The Muslim American Society (MAS), a self-proclaimed Muslim rights organization based in northern Virginia near Washington, DC, is offering some questionable advice about immigration law. In an article posted Aug. 4, MAS Freedom Foundation Executive Director Mahdi Bray provides his spin on a case related to a Palestinian man arrested recently by ICE in North Carolina.
Within the MAS immigration interpretation is what appears to be some legal advice provided by Bray. According to his own biography posted on the MAS Web site, Bray claims no standing as an attorney, but has been a "consultant" and "political adviser." (Here's a profile Bray would rather you not see) Yet this is what he advised foreign nationals (aliens) who might be encountered confronted in their homes by ICE Agents:
"Sadly, what many in the immigrant community are not aware of, is that they DO have rights," stated MAS Freedom Executive Director, Mahdi Bray.
Bray added, "If you are not guilty of a criminal offense, an important thing to remember is that ICE officials, in conducting their 'raids' and 'sweeps' are generally carrying 'administrative warrants' – not 'criminal warrants' – which means that you are not obligated by law to open the door or allow any ICE representative to enter your home."
However, that is not to say that ICE officials do not consider themselves 'above the law.'
Bray might want to reconsider that advice. He may be suggesting that people commit a felony. Under some circumstances, Bray is technically correct. ICE Agents seeking to arrest aliens strictly for removal violations are not making criminal arrests. Therefore they would not have the same authority to make a forcible entry into a dwelling as they would if they had a criminal arrest warrant and had reason to believe the suspect was inside.
That said, the facts change somewhat if that administrative removal arrest is based on a final removal order. Many (really most) of those arrests in these "raids" and "sweeps" as Bray refers to them are by ICE Fugitive Operations Teams seeking those aliens who are under final removal orders. From the available media reports and the limited ICE information, it even appears the North Carolina Palestinian case MAS details falls into that category.
Final removal orders are still administrative arrest warrants and do not authorize forced entry into a dwelling as a criminal arrest warrant would. However, there are provisions within the Immigration and Nationality Act that specifically make it a criminal offense to prevent or interfere with the execution of a final removal order or to do anything that impedes the lawful execution of such a final removal order. Actions such as barricading oneself inside one's home and refusing to surrender to ICE authorities or other failures to surrender under duly issued judicial administrative removal orders, would very much be a violation of this statute. ICE Agents could (and have...I've done it myself in years past) obtain a criminal search warrant and criminal arrest warrant based on this statute to make a forced entry into a dwelling to effect an arrest after securing the premises on the outside. This statute very much applies. It gives the force of criminal law to administrative final orders of removal.
Aliens under final removal orders who hide behind closed doors and follow Bray's advice do so at notable peril. They risk committing a felony and the potential of being so charged. Instead of simply being detained and deported, they risk becoming convicted felons, detained and deported. In some Federal Districts, the US Attorney's Offices are prosecuting significantly more immigration crimes. Bray, by offering this generalized "you are not obligated by law to open the door or allow any ICE representative to enter your home" advice is potentially recommending that many people commit felonies. He may consider ICE officials "above the law" but his advice clearly demonstrates who the lawless (or at least very ignorant) really is.
For those interested, here is the relevant section of the law:
Section 1253. Penalties related to removal
(a) Penalty for failure to depart
(1) In general
Any alien against whom a final order of removal is outstanding
by reason of being a member of any of the classes described in
section 1227(a) of this title, who -
(A) willfully fails or refuses to depart from the United
States within a period of 90 days from the date of the final
order of removal under administrative processes, or if judicial
review is had, then from the date of the final order of the
(B) willfully fails or refuses to make timely application in
good faith for travel or other documents necessary to the
© connives or conspires, or takes any other action,
designed to prevent or hamper or with the purpose of preventing
or hampering the alien's departure pursuant to such, or
(D) willfully fails or refuses to present himself or herself
for removal at the time and place required by the Attorney
General pursuant to such order,
shall be fined under title 18, or imprisoned not more than four
years (or 10 years if the alien is a member of any of the classes
described in paragraph (1)(E), (2), (3), or (4) of section 1227(a) of this title), or both.