I am writing this to inform you of the reality that is taking place in the United States. I am not writing this article in hopes to scare anyone or invoke fear. ICE and this current administration are the only ones invoking fear. I am writing this article because I wholeheartedly believe that Florida is not a safe place for immigrants right now and there is no way to put it lightly.
The Southern Poverty Law center issued a warning saying:
“Immigrants across the state feel more threatened than ever before, from national to local anti-immigrant policies and corporations that refuse to protect their customers. We’re raising the alarm by issuing an emergency travel advisory so visitors know the realities that we are experiencing on a daily basis in Florida.” 1
If ICE law enforcement thinks you look like or resemble an immigrant that may be illegal, they have grounds to make you show your identification to prove that you are an American. If you are an illegal immigrant, then they can detain you in a immigration holding cell.
How does ICE judge who looks like an illegal immigrant? Do they have to be brown or wearing something on their head? Because that is exactly who ICE is targeting.Now no person of color or someone who “looks” like a immigrant will feel safe. Immigrants will be scared to work, go to the hospital to get treatment, or even go to school, etc.
Even if you were born in the United States, you may still be harassed for identification if you “resemble” an illegal immigrant. Though I was born in America, I am equally at risk. Though in reality I am a mix of European and Indigenous ancestry, I am still a hijabi Muslim who lives in a high risk county in Florida, that has announced their collaboration with ICE. To some people I look like a “terrorist” or an illegal immigrant who migrated here from the Middle East. So maybe to some ICE law enforcement I may look just immigrant enough for them to have reason for suspicion, for me to show proof of my citizenship.
In Florida in particular, it is not a law for a citizen to carry around any identification to prove their citizenship UNLESS the officer has probable cause or reasonable suspense that you may be committing a crime, like doing drugs, carrying an unregistered gun, or even being an illegal immigrant, etc. it is known as Florida’s stop and frisk law.
Unfortunately this is not in violation of your civil rights. Stop and frisk laws are an exception to the fourth amendment. In 1968, in the case of Terry v. Ohio, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that an officer may detain and search a person if that officer has probable cause or reasonable suspicion that that person did a crime. 2 If you are here as an illegal immigrant, that is a crime and that gives ICE law enforcement additional freedom to stop and ask you for identification. Also note that, a police officer could be working as an ICE officer as well.
If you are a citizen or not, and you refuse to provide ID or answer an officer’s questions, after being stopped, you could be arrested. However, if you are stopped and frisked illegally any evidence that they may have had will not and cannot be used against you. 3
So why are many counties in Florida and this current administration doing this? The reason is hate and fear. Fear causes these type of hateful acts to occur and hate makes this type of behavior stay. This also paves ways for other Americans to think it is okay to have prejudice against immigrants. Though many people forget that the United States is a country of immigrants and always has been, unless you are indigenous to America.
In conclusion, there is no way to put what I stated in this article lightly. I am writing this to inform you of the reality that is taking place in the United States.