New travel advisory

US IMMIGRATION NOTES - Atty Marco F.G. Tomakin - The Freeman

On Friday, May 17, 2024, The US Department of State issued a worldwide travel advisory due to the potential for terrorist attacks, demonstrations, or violent actions against US citizens and interests. It is aware of the increased potential for foreign terrorist organization-inspired violence against LGBTQI+ persons and events and advises US citizens overseas to exercise increased caution. US citizens should stay alert in locations frequented by tourists, including Pride celebrations and venues frequented by LGBTQI+ persons; enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive information and alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency overseas and follow the Department of State on Facebook and Twitter.

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We all know that immigrants are a vulnerable community. Often, they are targeted by preying criminals because of their lack of financial resources, reluctance to call law enforcement, language barriers, lack of family and community support, among other factors.

The New York Department of State has announced that it is rolling out a program called Address Confidentiality Program (ACP) that seeks to provide peace of mind with a secure address. This is open to the public, not just for immigrants. It is a private, secure, safe, and free program that lets you shield your home address to help maintain your safety.

Mainly, this caters to those who are victims of or in dangerous situations such as domestic violence, stalking, sexual offenses, human trafficking, kidnapping, reproductive healthcare services (as a provider, patient, volunteer, or employee). If you qualify, you’ll get a secure post office box as your official mailing address. The ACP forwards all first class and certified mail from your private PO Box to your home address. One can avail of this program by going to the New York Department of State website.

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In the past few weeks, the US has seen widespread protests more specifically centering around the Israel-Hamas conflict. Students of universities and colleges across the country are taking a stand for or against this issue and how the US is handling this delicate balance of assisting Israel while ensuring Palestinians are spared from more harm and destruction. If you are here in the US as a foreign student, you must be careful in participating in these protests. More often than not, these demonstrations easily descend into chaos and violence that trigger law enforcement action such as arrests and charges in court. Avoid getting involved with activities that may be interpreted as participating or abetting in acts of violence. Finding yourself in trouble with the law places your immigrant status at such a high risk. Remember, there are other ways to make your voices heard such as open and peaceful dialogue and positive efforts to learn more about the issue and better understanding of the perspectives of others whose opinions we may not share.

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