Unfortunately, since last month’s blog post, when we talked about what to do if ICE officers try to speak to you at home or in public, there have been more ICE raids, including at several Mississippi food processing plants. Do you know what to do in an ICE raid at your workplace, or if someone tries to stop and question you while you are driving?
Going to work and traveling by car are necessary daily activities. If you are an undocumented immigrant, you must know your rights in the event that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) tries to question you while you are working or stopped in a car.
If you are stopped by law enforcement while driving a car, the rules are different than those that apply if you were just walking down the street. If a police officer indicates that you should pull over, do just that. Stop the car at the first place that you safely can. Turn the engine off, but turn the interior ceiling light of the car on so that the officer can see you clearly. Put your hands on the steering wheel where they are visible to the officer at all times.
Being stopped can be very stressful, but try to remain as calm as you can. When the police officer approaches, roll down your window. Listen to the officer’s request. He or she will probably ask you for your driver's license, the vehicle’s registration, and proof of car insurance. If you don’t have any of these documents, do not lie about it or provide false documents. If you do have them, you may want to tell the officer what you are doing before you do it, such as, “My car registration and proof of insurance are in the glove box. I am going to reach over and get them now.”
The officer may ask to search your car. Under most circumstances, you do not have to allow this. If you say or indicate that the officer can search your car, that is giving consent, or permission, for the officer to go through your vehicle. Whether the officer begins searching or not, you should say, “I do not consent to this search.” Say it multiple times if necessary.
Sometimes you will have to allow a search, such as if you are at a border checkpoint, or if the officer has a warrant. You can still state that you do not consent to the search, but you may need to allow it.
Even if the officer searches your car, you have the right to remain silent. Do not volunteer any information. Do not give the officer information about where you were born, how and when you came to the United States, or your current immigration status. Do not offer any documents from your home country. Clearly state that you want to remain silent. You can also show the officer a Know Your Rights card. You should keep a copy of this card on you at all times.
In order to come into the place where you work, ICE officers or the police must either have the permission of your employer or a valid warrant. You may be tempted to hide or run away, but this will only make things worse for you. Running could get you detained or arrested. However, you are not required to answer questions, even if the officers do have a warrant. Tell the officers clearly that you want to remain silent or show them your Know Your Rights card.
Chances are that you are not the only person in your workplace who is undocumented. If this is the case, you may be able to plan together what you will do in the event that ICE comes to your workplace. For example, you can all agree that none of you will run away, and that you will all use your right to remain silent.
If you belong to a labor union, you should discuss with your union representative what you and your co-workers can do to protect yourselves from an ICE raid at work. Your union representative may help you reach an agreement with your employer. That agreement might say that the employer will not let ICE come into the business without a valid warrant, that the employer will let the union know if they have been contacted by ICE, and that the employer will not give out the personal or immigration information of any employee to ICE or law enforcement unless they are required to by law.
Hopefully, your workplace will not be raided. If it is, your employer should be the person to speak with officers. If your employer is not present, or has given the officers permission to come in, you and your co-workers should choose in advance which of you will speak with any officers and review any warrant that is presented.
The possibility of an ICE raid may feel like a dark cloud hanging over your head. You may feel better if you discuss your options with an experienced Maryland immigration attorney. Please contact our office to schedule an appointment to discuss your concerns.