What To Do If ICE Visits Your Home Or Work
With the Trump administration planning to deport millions of people, it is good to get prepared for an encounter with ICE officers. Many people wonder how ICE officers decide who to visit and who to check. The specific information ICE officers are using when planning their raids, generally speaking, ICE would rely on “tips” and reports they receive from public or law enforcement. Apart from criminal and family courts, there are three main places one can meet ICE officers.
If ICE Visits Your Home
Often, immigrants are people of modest means and it forces them to share their living space, sometimes with people they really do not know well. Sometimes, ICE people knock at the door looking for a specific person with a criminal background. Because ICE has a warrant for that one person, they may enter the house. Then, they start asking everyone they meet in the house about their Immigration status. Now, this is the time to use your rights and remain silent. You will have to provide your name, and perhaps date of birth, but no more than that, if you do not want to communicate with ICE without an attorney. You have to tell the ICE officers that you would like to remain silent and you would like to have an attorney. If you already have an attorney’s name and phone number, you should provide this information to ICE. Otherwise, ICE will provide you with the information about the free attorneys. Also, do not be shy to ask ICE if you are free to go, and if you are, you can go and leave the place. Do not, under any circumstances, provide false information. This will be used to aggravate your situation later, if you do.
Do you have to open the door if ICE knocks at the door? The answer is yes, but only if they have a valid warrant. It can be a stressful situation when the law enforcement is at your door steps and are ordering you to open the door, but you have a right to ask for the warrant and you should exercise it. The warrants can be for arrest or a person and/or for search of the premises. Now, if the warrant is for a search of a living space of a particular roommate, the law enforcement cannot enter or search (without a consent) a room of a person who is not specified in the warrant. This is important to know: if the officers (the police or ICE) are asking you if they can enter, search, take a look, etc.etc. you can say NO. They may return back with a warrant, but without a warrant and your consent, they cannot search the premises and containers. (There are some exceptions to this general rule). Most importantly, do not sign anything you do not understand what you are offered to sign, and do not sign papers you do not agree with before you consult with an attorney. (The papers may be an order of voluntary departure, a waiver of your rights, etc.)
If ICE Visits Your Work
A place of work can be raided because of a tip, a complaint, applications that were filed with USCIS… When ICE officers will come, they are likely to tell that all the workers must stay at their places, and have to provide them with their names, dates of birth, and identification documents and work authorizations. ICE must have a valid search warrant or the consent of your employer to enter non-public areas. You have a right to remain silent and have to let them know that you would like to remain silent. Do not try to run away. Chances are, you will be caught right away. Just like in the first example, you should state that you would like to be represented by an attorney. Also, you may choose to contact your consulate, and a person form the consulate will come to visit you and help you. However, consulate’s help is usually limited and mostly, they will offer you to come back to your home country or they may help finding a local attorney. Just like in the first point, do not sign papers if you do not understand them.
Finally, ICE officers may approach you in the streets. There were reports that ICE officer would come to people at the subway train stations, would ask them to identify someone on the picture they had, and then ask if a person they stopped had legal papers in the United States. In the United States, law enforcement cannot just stop you and start searching you without a warrant, your consent, or probable cause that a criminal activity is in progress. (There are some exceptions to the general rules, but the point is that the police or ICE cannot just simply starts checking everyone papers in the streets). The law enforcement may “pat you down” but only if they suspect you have a weapon. Not for any other reason. Do not be shy in turning down their offer of searching your belongings.
As you see, these tips are simple. Exercise your rights and be prepared in advance. Do not panic. If you are “picked up” you should try to contact your family members and/or lawyer as soon as you can. If you do not have an A number, you should ask for it and communicate that number to your family members/your lawyer. (It will make it easier for them to find you in case you are moved around). If would be a good idea to find an attorney you would like to work with in advance, and have a G28 form signed, because without this signed form, ICE officers often refuse to talk to lawyers, stating that they can speak only with an attorney who has a valid G 28. It means that a lawyer will first have to visit you in detention, and only then will be able to get a copy of your file and discuss your situation with the ICE officers.