Attorney to Immigrants and Citizens Encountering ICE: ‘Know Your Rights’

Tags: Currents Brooklyn, NY, Faith, Family, Queens, NY, World News

By Emily Drooby

As the managing attorney for Catholic Migration Services’s immigration program, Alex Gonçalves-Peña has been very busy this past week.

She has received calls from undocumented immigrants throughout Brooklyn and Queens who are nervous for their future and their families future.

The Trump administration’s latest move, referred to as the ‘3rd Country’ rule, will deny asylum to migrants who don’t first apply for protection in a third country before requesting asylum at the United States southern border.

“It’s going to prevent many individuals who have strong asylum claims from coming to the U.S. and seeking the relief they are requesting,” Alex said.

This new rule comes as President Trump is cracking down on illegal immigration.

As of July 16, Alex started to hear about some credible raids in the New York City area, specifically right here in the Diocese of Brooklyn, Sunset Park.

She said it’s important those facing raids know their rights.

“If we don’t know about our rights, and this applies to everybody, we don’t know how to enforce them, and the federal government and others can just do with us and our community members what they want, and we just can’t in this point in time allow that to happen.”

Catholic Migration Services is available to help teach people these rights. First and foremost, the most important: the right to remain silent.

Among them are also the right to not open doors, the right to not sign anything, and the right as a witness to record and report the raid.

But not everyone thinks that undocumented immigrants should even have these so-called privileges.

President Trump has said that a lot people “came into our country illegally,” and a large majority of Americans agree with his statement.

While some people who think these undocumented immigrants don’t have rights because they’re here illegally,“the Constitution says otherwise,” Alex explained.

“In fact these rights to apply to everyone, and like I said previously, everyone has the right to enforce them.”

The Trump administration claims the raids are primarily focusing on deporting criminals, especially those with a violent background. However the president acknowledged that they will target anyone who entered the country illegally.

To organize a Know Your Rights Information Session at your parish contact Rebecca Rrybaltowski, the outreach coordinator for Catholic Migration Services. You can reach her by phone at (347) 472-3500 ext. 1008 or by email at