In wake of immigration raids, advocates tell migrants 'do not open the door to strangers'

A man is detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), agents early on October 14, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

A man is detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), agents early on October 14, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)  (2015 Getty Images)

As immigration agents carry out an Obama administration plan to round up Central American immigrants who have not complied with final deportation orders, consulates, activists and attorneys are scrambling to advise those targeted of their rights.

The Salvadoran Embassy in Washington D.C. set up a hotline for those affected by the raids.

Both Guatemalan and Salvadoran government officials are advising their nationals not to open their doors to authorities, and to consult a lawyer for information about what to do if they are at risk of being tracked down by immigration officials.

And around the nation, immigrant advocacy and service groups have been holding information sessions in which they talk to immigrants about the raids and their options.

“Everyone is worried, even if they’re not targeted,” said New York-based immigration attorney Bryan Johnson, whose law office received more than 200 calls about the raids from worried immigrants on Monday alone. 

“They asked whether they should be concerned. Even people with green cards are worried," he said to Fox News Latino.

Johnson’s law office has handled hundreds of cases of Central Americans seeking either political asylum or a special juvenile visa available for youths who arrive unaccompanied by an adult. 

The raids, in which agents typically arrived at the homes of people with deportation orders in pre-dawn hours, began over the weekend in states such as Texas, Georgia and North Carolina.

They mark the beginning of what is expected to be a national crackdown on Central Americans who came by the tens of thousands, often in family units.

Many of the some 100,000 immigrants who came in 2014, and who included thousands of unaccompanied minors, told of fleeing because of rampant gang violence and poverty in Central America. Many youths said they had fled after being pressured to, as they put it, “join or die” gangs. Most of the families have fled from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala.

But there were also immigrants from Central America who told interviewers from various non-profit organizations assisting them that they believed that anyone who managed to get into the United States would be allowed to stay.

On Monday, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson defended the raids, which led to the arrests of 121 people, saying they are necessary to deter even more migrants from illegally crossing the border.

Matthew Bourke, a spokesman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, was quoted in The Guardian as saying that the raids aimed to “further deter individuals from undertaking the journey."

“We aim to ensure that there are safe, lawful and orderly options available,” Bourke said, referring to Central Americans who are fleeing violence in their homelands and seeking a safe haven.

According to the Los Angeles Times, final deportation orders authorize federal agents to arrest and detain immigrants, but not to enter their homes without a court document. But immigration agents are showing up at the homes of targeted people without warrants and demand entrance, the Times said.

"Do not open the door to strangers who say they are looking for someone else," the Guatemalan Foreign Ministry recommended in a statement posted online in Spanish, "Immigration agents have to show an order signed by a judge to enter your house. If they don't have it, you are not required to open the door. You have rights that have to be respected."

Elizabeth Llorente is Senior Reporter for FoxNews.com, and can be reached at Elizabeth.Llorente@Foxnews.com. Follow her on Twitter @Liz_Llorente.