Due to the current climate in the United States, things have taken an uncertain turn for immigrants living in the United States. Lawyers, advocacy groups and the like are all being inundated with calls and emails from frantic immigrants and those who care about them, looking for ways to navigate this fraught period in US history.
Because of the confusion and fear that looms in the balance, we’ve put together a guide to what to do if you do get a visit from ICE.
You Don’t Have to Open the Door
If officers do show up at your home, you may opt to leave the door shut. You are allowed to ask through the door if they are immigration officers. Ask officers the reason for their visit.
You can open the door if you’d like, but many people feel safer when communicating with ICE through the barrier of the closed door. If you do decide to open the door, know that ICE agents do not have permission to enter.
Officers may only enter your home if they are in possession of a warrant that has been signed by a judge. If they cannot produce this documentation, they are legally not allowed to enter. If officers mention that they do, in fact, have a warrant, you may ask them to slide the document under the doorframe.
While looking at the warrant, look at the top of the document, and at the signature line on the bottom to ensure this document has in fact, been signed by a court-appointed judge. If the document has only been signed by someone from ICE, then the warrant is not sufficient to grant permission for agents to enter your home.
For your reference, here’s a look at a court-ordered document, and one signed only by ICE officials. Additionally, the order must specifically name someone in your household, or who is suspected to be found at your residence.
If You Don’t Speak the Language
If you speak a different language than the agents who have come to the door, you have the right to request an interpreter to help you navigate the process. Print off a know your rights card, for further explanation as to what your rights entail.
You Do Have the Right to Remain Silent
While law enforcement officers do have the right to ask any question they please, should you open the door, you are not under any obligation to answer. Do attempt to resist entry should ICE have a warrant to enter, or have forced their way in. Let agents know you are exercising your right to remain silent.
Don’t Show False Documentation
While you don’t have to reveal your immigration status or answer any questions ICE agents ask without a lawyer present, you may also not lie to officers or show them false documentation. If you get caught with false papers, that alone may be grounds for arrest and subsequent deportation.
Do Not Sign Anything
If immigration officers do enter your home or speak to you face to face they may try to get you to sign something. It is well within your rights to politely refuse to do so until a lawyer is present. Signing any document could result in unknowingly agreeing to self-deport, which renders any case you present down the road null and void.
Stand Strong, Fight Your Case
After the raid, report the raid. Organizations like United We Dream have a hotline you can call to report the ICE visit. It’s a good idea to take down as much information as possible, badge numbers, pictures, videos, anything that can help relay the full scope of what happened.
If ICE has come to your home or business, or even if you have reason to suspect there’s a visit coming soon, we recommend getting an attorney you can trust and from there, exploring all the options at your disposal. Firms like Hacking Law Practice can help those coping with the threat of ICE with the next steps in the process.
At the end of the day, you’ll want to have as much information at your disposal as possible. Immigrants without papers, who have a criminal conviction, no matter how small, or an outstanding order of deportation on file are all at risk of deportation. To find out if there’s an order out for you or a loved one, check out the information on Families for Freedom. It’s a good idea to get a sense of your situation before taking legal action.
Kiera Hamilton has experience working as a case manager within the immigration department. In these turbulent times she wants to help people understand what is happening and what they need to do.