How Traffic Stops Can Affect Immigration Issues in Chicago

Immigration LawFor any motorist, a traffic stop can be an unsettling experience because it involves an interaction with a law enforcement officer. For an undocumented immigrant, however, a traffic stop can be downright terrifying because it raises fears of deportation. If you are an undocumented immigrant living in Chicago, it is important to know how a traffic stop can affect common immigration issues. If you are unsure about your rights, you can call the experienced Chicago traffic stop lawyers at Sexner and Associates LLC today at 800-996-4824.

The Police Must Have a Valid Reason for Stopping You

The law does not allow a police officer to conduct a traffic stop without having “reasonable suspicion” that a law has been violated. While that means that a law enforcement officer cannot conduct random stops, it is still a fairly low standard that is easily satisfied. An officer must only have “specific and articulable facts” that warrant the stop. Moreover, something as simple as failing to use a turn signal, the appearance of a child not properly restrained, or a non-functioning license plate light can be used to justify a traffic stop.

What Happens If I’m Stopped?

If a local law enforcement officer stops you, the officer has the right to request your vehicle registration, proof of insurance, and identification. If you are not a U.S. citizen, and are not here lawfully, being asked for your identification can produce considerable fear and anxiety. It is important to understand though, that the law enforcement officers who conduct routine traffic stops are not federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents. As such, their primary concern is not your status in the United States. This is particularly true in Chicago because of Chicago’s status as a sanctuary city.

What Happens If I’m Arrested?

Immigration LawA traffic stop can result in the issuance of a citation (traffic ticket) or it could result in an arrest. A ticket simply indicates the infraction you committed and directs you to pay a corresponding fine. If the officer believes there is a reason to actually arrest you, however, you will be taken into custody. For an undocumented immigrant, landing in jail can lead to immigration problems. This is often all the more terrifying because of the belief that ICE will be called and deportation proceedings will begin. In Chicago, that is not always the case because of its status as a “sanctuary city.” As a sanctuary city, Chicago keeps its communications and cooperation with federal immigration authorities to a minimum. For this reason, even being arrested for a minor offense will not necessarily lead to a detainer being placed on you by ICE in Chicago and, even if one is, often times the jail will not likely honor it.

What Happens If I’m Convicted of a Criminal Offense?

If that original traffic stop leads to a conviction for a criminal offense, that conviction could be used against you as an undocumented immigrant. You could find yourself with a detainer hold that will be honored by the Illinois Department of Corrections. That conviction could also be used to deny you re-entry at the border if you leave the country and attempt to re-enter at any point in the future. You should have a dedicated Chicago immigration attorney on your side to help during the entire legal process as well.

Contact a Chicago Traffic Stop Lawyer Today

If you are an undocumented immigrant who has recently been issued a citation or charged with a crime as a result of a traffic stop, it is in your best interest to consult with an experienced attorney right away. Contact an experienced Illinois traffic stop lawyer at Mitchell S. Sexner & Associates LLC today by calling (312) 644-0444 or by filling out our online contact form.

This blog is available for informational purposes only and is not considered legal advice on any subject matter. The blog should not be used as a substitute for legal advice from a licensed professional attorney, and readers are urged to consult their own legal counsel on specific legal questions.

Written by Mitchell S. Sexner Last Updated : October 21, 2019