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Know Your Rights During an ICE Raid (At Home or In Public)

Customs and border protection officer participates in a training at the airport.

The news has recently been filled with threats of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids. While this news is disturbing to many, it is downright terrifying to undocumented immigrants. Living under the threat of a raid, detention, and possible deportation is incredibly difficult. It is important to know your rights during an ICE raid. In this blog post, we will help you understand what to do if ICE comes to your home or stops you on the street. In a future post, we will discuss what to do if ICE comes to your workplace or you are stopped while driving a car.

If ICE Comes to Your Home

ICE cannot enter your home without a valid warrant or your permission. If they do not have a valid warrant, they may try to intimidate or trick you into giving your permission for them to enter your home (or into going outside yourself). Being aware of your rights in advance will prepare you to deal with these tactics.

Opening your door can be considered permission for ICE agents or police officers to enter! It may be a habit to open the door when you hear a knock, but you must change this habit. Instead, through the door or window, without opening, ask officers to show you their identification. Next, ask if they have a warrant. If they do not, you can ask them to leave.

If officers say that they do have a search warrant, ask to see it; you have the legal right to do this. Ask them to slide the warrant under the door so that you can read it. In order to be valid, a search warrant must:

  • Be signed by a magistrate, justice of the peace, or judge.
  • State the address that is to be searched.
  • Describe in detail the area to be searched.

If the warrant contains all of this information, look for other signs that it might not be valid. An otherwise valid search warrant that is out of date is not valid.

If the officers claim to have an arrest warrant, you have the right to see that as well. A valid arrest warrant contains the following information:

  • Signature of magistrate, justice of the peace, or judge.
  • Name of the person to be arrested.
  • Description of the person to be arrested.

As with a search warrant, ask that an arrest warrant be slid under the door, and check to make sure that it is not out of date.

If a search warrant is valid, you must admit the officers to your house. You should say, “I do not consent to this search.” Repeat this, especially if the officers attempt to search an area not named in the warrant. If an officer takes any of your property, you have the right to a receipt.

If an arrest warrant is valid, what to do next depends on whether the person named in the warrant is in the home. If they are, they should go outside to meet the officers; close the door behind them as they go out. You do not want to appear to be giving permission for officers to enter the home! If the person named in the warrant is not in the home, you can tell the officers that and ask them to leave.

An officer may also appear at your house with something called a warrant of removal or deportation, also known as an immigration warrant. You DO NOT have to let an officer with such a warrant into your home, even if the warrant is valid. Tell the officer, “You do not have the right to enter with this warrant. Please leave.”

If ICE Stops You in Public

You may have the impulse to flee if you see ICE agents or police officers approaching you, but resist the urge to do so. If you are stopped by an officer, the first words out of your mouth should be, “Am I free to go?” If the answer is “yes,” walk away slowly. If the answer is “no,” stay where you are, but remember that you have the right to remain silent. Do not give any information about where you were born, when or how you came to the United States, or your immigration status.

Do not show or give the officer any documents from your home country, especially not false documents. In fact, if you have such documents, you should not carry them with you. If you have valid immigration status documents, you can show them. If questioned, tell the officer, “I want to use my right to remain silent.” You can also present a copy of the Rights Card.

The officer may try to search, arrest, or detain you. If this happens, try to stay calm and quiet. Above all, do not physically resist or fight the officer. During a search, you can say loudly and clearly, “I do not consent to this search.”

In certain places, like airports or near the border of the United States, you may be questioned or detained even if officers do not have a warrant. You may also be arrested if an officer has evidence that you do not have a legal immigration status or that you have committed a crime. In either of these situations, you still have the right to remain silent.

If you are taken into custody, do not sign anything before your attorney has a chance to review it. Once you sign something you will not be able to later claim that you did not understand it or that it was not explained to you.

We understand that even reading about what to do during an ICE raid can be upsetting. It may help to speak to an experienced Maryland immigration attorney. We invite you to contact our law office. We can help you put a plan in place so that you and your family are prepared for any contact with ICE or law enforcement.

Categories: Immigration Law