Can and should immigrants join in political protest?
Hi, I’m Jim Hacking, immigration lawyer practicing law throughout the United States out of our office here in St. Louis, Missouri.
A little while back, my sons and I joined in a march here in St. Louis complaining about police practices, the death of African Americans at the hands of police officers. Specifically, the death of George Floyd, a man who was murdered by a police officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Since that time there’ve been protests across the country, and we’re glad to see that. It was a very eyeopening experience for me to be in a protest. I haven’t been in a protest in a while. I’ve been to plenty of protest in my life.
It occurred to me, and then later on people were asking me, can immigrants participate in political protest? So we thought we’d shoot this video to lay things out for you.
Now, when it comes to the First Amendment, the First Amendment does not just apply to citizens. Everyone in the United States has a First Amendment right.
Now, how you exercise that right, you probably need to be a little bit more careful if you’re not a US citizen.
What do I mean by that? Well, you want to make sure you don’t get arrested. You never want to get arrested when you’re an immigrant.
If you’re out of status, you need to be especially careful, because being out of status and being arrested can lead to the police department interacting with USCIS and maybe alerting them to the fact that you have a criminal case pending.
When you participate in a protest, you want to do so lawfully. You want to make sure that if there are any curfews or if there are any rules about the protests that you follow all the rules, that you’re peaceful.
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t use your rights, but I just want you to be careful with it. As we often say on our videos, and when you’re not a US citizen you’re not like everybody else. Be sure to be careful and to be smart when you’re out there.
The First Amendment does protect your speech. If you are joining organizations, you might want to just think about the fact that at some point you’re going to have to list those organizations with US Citizenship and Immigration Services.
You want to be careful to make sure that any organizations you join are lawful, but I’m sure that won’t be a problem for most people. The long and the short of it is, the First Amendment does apply. You can go out and protest, but you just want to be smart and be careful and try to do what you can to avoid being arrested.
We hope you found this video helpful, if you did give us a call 314-961-8200. You can email us at [email protected]
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