What Should I Do if ICE Comes to My Home or Workplace?
Contributor: Van T. Doan
If you are an undocumented immigrant living in the United States, you may be very anxious about the possibility that you will be detained and deported. In the current political climate, there exists a greater chance than in the recent past that you might be detained by U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers. If this happens, you will probably not receive a lot of notice, so you should prepare in advance for how you will react. Here is some advice for what you should and shouldn't do if you are approached by ICE at home, work, or out in public.
What to Do if ICE Comes to Your Home
Even though you are an undocumented immigrant, you still have rights. If ICE comes to your home, you are not required to open your door to them, unless they have a valid search warrant for your home that has been signed by a judge.
Ask them if they do, and be specific: they may have a warrant, but an ICE deportation warrant is not the same thing as a valid search warrant. If all they have is a deportation warrant, they cannot enter your home unless you verbally give them permission to.
If they say they have a valid search warrant, don't take their word for it. Ask them to hold it up to a window, or better, slide it under the door so you can look carefully at it. In order to be valid, the warrant should have your correct name and address. It must also be signed by a judge. If the warrant is not valid, you are not required to admit the officers to your home. You can choose to speak to them through the door or to step outside and talk to them. If you do this, close the door behind you so they cannot see into your home.
You are not required to speak to ICE officers; you do have the right to remain silent. If you plan to do this, tell the officers that you are exercising your right to remain silent. This right includes the right not to answer questions, such as where you were born, what your status is, and how you entered the country. It also includes the right not to show them any identifying documents. Whatever you do, do not lie, and do not produce any fake documents.
If you are taken into custody, you have the right to talk to a lawyer. If you have an attorney, and have a signed Form G-28, give it to an immigration officer and let him know you want to talk to your lawyer. If you don't have a lawyer, an immigration officer should give you a list of pro bono (free) lawyers upon request. You may also ask to contact your consulate; they may be able to help you find a lawyer.
While you are waiting for your attorney, you may be asked to sign some paperwork. You do not have to do this until your attorney arrives, even if you are being pressured. If you do choose to sign something without an attorney's advice, be certain you understand everything you are agreeing to before you sign the document. You will not be able to "take back" your signature later if it turns out you misunderstood.
What to Do if ICE Comes to Your Workplace
If ICE officers come to your workplace, you cannot prevent them from entering as you can at home. However, your other rights remain the same: you have the right to remain silent, and you should tell them if you plan to do this. You have the right to an attorney. If you have a "know your rights" card, you can hand it to the officers at this time.
The sight of ICE approaching you at work may be intimidating, but don't panic and don't run. If you don't want to talk to them at all, calmly approach the exit. If anyone tries to stop you, ask them if you are free to leave. If they say yes, thank them and go. If they say no, do not try to leave the premises. You can still invoke your right to remain silent and ask for an attorney. Again, if you choose to sign anything without an attorney, be absolutely sure you understand it first.
What to Do if ICE Approaches You in Public
Again, if you do not want to speak to the officer, ask if you are free to leave and do so if the answer is "yes." You can offer your "know your rights" card if you have one or simply tell the officer you are exercising your right to remain silent.
If you are stopped for questioning in public, you have the right to refuse a search of yourself or your belongings so long as you have not been arrested. However, if the officer suspects you have a weapon on you, they may "pat down" your clothing in an effort to find it.
Remember, whatever you do, and wherever you are approached, do not lie about yourself or your situation, and do not present any false documents. If you suspect that you are in danger of being approached by ICE officers at home, work, or in public, the best thing that you can do is have an experienced Maryland immigration attorney ready to help you. We invite you to contact our immigration law firm to put that help in place.
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Categories: Immigration Law