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How New Immigration Guidelines Obliterate Probable Cause

A desk with a pair of glasses, a calculator and a piece of paper that reads "Immigration Law", representing how one can benefit from calling a Portland criminal defense lawyer.

In our last blog post, we pointed out how the newest immigration orders from the current administration could impact U.S. citizens as well as illegal immigrants. Now that these orders have been on the books for a few days, it’s becoming clear exactly how this can happen.

What Changed

Since taking office, President Donald Trump has followed through on his campaign promise to crackdown on illegal immigration. While his travel ban was quickly deemed unconstitutional because it targeted Muslims, his other orders and guidelines are going into effect.

One of these guidelines grants federal agents from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) the power to arrest people for violating immigration laws, even if they haven’t violated any other law. Regardless of what you think about illegal immigration, this expansion of ICE’s powers is scary, especially now that they’re utilizing that power.

Why This Change Matters: Probable Cause

Before police can arrest you for a crime, they need probable cause that you committed one.

For example, if a police officer wants to pull you over to see if you’re driving under the influence (DUI), first they need a reason to make the traffic stop. So they’ll wait until you make a mistake, like turning without signaling or touching the centerline with one of your wheels, before putting on their sirens and pulling you to the side of the road.

When it comes to a crime like DUI, there are signs that police use to determine whether they have probably cause to detain you and start their investigation.

Probable Cause and Illegal Immigration

Now think of the signs that police could use to determine if they have probable cause to arrest someone for the crime of illegal immigration. How can you tell that someone is not from the United States?

These law enforcement guidelines are instructing ICE officials to make arrests based on someone’s race, their ability to speak English, and their culture.

In short, if an ICE officer thinks that someone looks or sounds foreign, they can detain them and make an arrest. It effectively turns race into probable cause.

Maine Criminal Defense Attorney William T. Bly

The repercussions of this change in law enforcement strategy are not small. Anyone who doesn’t look “American” can find themselves being harassed by federal agents looking to use their new powers to detain, arrest, and deport as many people as possible. Without needing objective probable cause that you’re committing a crime, law enforcement can detain you and search you almost whenever they want to. This can lead to them finding evidence of a crime that they weren’t even thinking about when they first spotted you.

This empowers law enforcement to a radical and dangerous level. Without the requirement of probable cause protecting you from a random search by law enforcement, your greatest line of defense becomes a solid criminal defense attorney. Contact the law office of William T. Bly online or at (207) 571-8146 if you’ve been arrested for violating immigration laws, and are now facing state or federal criminal charges in the state of Maine.


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