Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) — the federal law enforcement agency in charge of arresting, detaining, and deporting undocumented immigrants or documented immigrants with criminal convictions — is reportedly begiun nationwide raids, potentially impacting thousands of immigrant families.
Dealing with law enforcement can be stressful, so it’s important to know your rights before you’re face-to-face with ICE agents. While there’s never any guarantee that law enforcement officers will follow the law, here’s what they can and can’t legally do to you and what you can legally demand.
Don’t Open the Door:
Like police, ICE can’t enter your home without a warrant signed by a judge. You can ask ICE to slide their document under the door, if they have one, to determine whether or not it's a judicial warrant.
Ask to Speak to a Lawyer:
A good immigration lawyer can help guide clients through the complicated and often confusing system of immigration law, so find one in your area and discuss your status with them, not with law enforcement. If you're at risk, try to speak with an attorney as soon as possible.
The American Immigration Lawyers Association’s Immigration Lawyer Search lets you specify what kind of immigration law you need help with, i.e., “Deportation - Removal,” and search your local area if you enter a city name or zip code; you can even search by last name if you’re familiar with a lawyer in your area by name but not sure how to find them.
Remain Silent or Tell ICE You Wish to Do So:
You have the right to remain silent in any interaction with an ICE agent, and you can tell them so. What you say can be used against you in immigration court or deportation proceedings, so always be cautious of what you say to ICE or law enforcement and ask to speak to a lawyer before any communication takes place.
Don’t Sign Anything:
Unless you’ve already spoken to a lawyer who advises it you shouldn’t sign any documents ICE asks you to. According to the Miami Herald, signing a document provided by ICE may mean you’re signing your own deportation order.
Don’t Lie or Provide False Documents:
Lying to ICE agents can be dangerous. Providing false documents can be used against you in court proceedings.
Don’t Flee or Resist Arrest:
If you run from ICE, the results can be deadly not just legally dangerous. People who help an immigrant escape ICE can be charged with things like obstruction of justice by the Department of Justice, as was the case with a judge who let an immigrant escape after a court hearing. People who attempt to physically stop an arrest can also be charged with resisting a public officer.
You Don’t Have to Tell Them Where Someone Else Is:
You’re under no obligation to tell ICE where someone they’re looking for is, but you shouldn’t lie. Instead, ask the agents to leave contact information.
You’re Allowed to Ask for an Interpreter:
If an immigrant placed under arrest is not an English-speaker, they can ask for an interpreter during their detention process with ICE.
You Should Make a Plan With Family or Loved Ones:
In the event you are detained, it’s wise to have an action plan in place to handle any immediate concerns like child and pet care, and long-term issues like home maintenance and collecting mail. Attorneys also advise that loved ones have on hand the name and contact information for an attorney so they can make contact in the event of an arrest.
Keep Learning and Building Networks:
No one resource can prepare you for every possible ICE raid. But massive compilations of resources that cover workplace considerations, community preparedness, and more are available online from the information service Informed Immigrant and as collaboration projects between immigration groups.
Stay Safe homeis!