If you’re an undocumented immigrant in the U.S., you’ve probably been on edge since Trump took office—announcing targeted action to deport anyone without the requisite permissions to live here. You may have an immigration lawyer on standby. Perhaps you and your family have made a plan of action, in case you’re ever approached by federal authorities. What you may not have prepared for, however, is for immigration officials to text you.
There have been a growing number of reports of undocumented immigrants receiving unusual texts from people claiming to represent the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The texts are often urgently worded, and they may encourage the recipient to meet them at a specific, informal location. There have also been reports of such texts directing recipients to non-government-affiliated websites.
At first glance, you may assume such texts are bogus. However, many immigration lawyers have verified the legitimacy of such texts for their clients. While ICE never used to use texting to communicate with immigrants, this policy is apparently changing. Therefore, don’t be too quick to assume a text message that seems suspicious is a scam.
What you can do
Many immigration attorneys fear that this latest tactic by ICE is an effort to scare uninformed immigrants into turning themselves in—and relinquishing their rights in the process. If you receive any text—or communication of any kind—from someone claiming to be an ICE official, contact your immigration lawyer right away. Do not discuss your immigration status with anyone besides your lawyer.