01 Mar What should I do if ICE comes to my home?
With the election of Donald Trump as president, and his pledge to fulfill his campaign promise of enforcing immigration laws (with news reports of immigration raids throughout the country), many people are anxious and\or terrified about their future in the US.
Many of my clients have been calling asking whether they have to open the door if ICE comes knocking at their house, what kind of documents should they show, or how they should conduct themselves.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has put out flyers, pamphlets, and brochures about what to do if ICE comes knocking. Below is AGLU’s advice, along with mine:
- Do not open the door, unless the ICE agents show you a warrant, signed by a judge. Ask to see it through a window, or they should slip it under the door. Make sure you are named on that warrant, and it is signed by a judge. A warrant from ICE does not allow them to enter your home, without your consent. If they don’t have a warrant, ask them to leave the information outside.
- If ICE agents force their way into your home, or pressure you to give your “consent,” don’t resist. If you want to exercise your constitutional rights, you can state, “I do not consent to your entry or to your search of these premises. I am exercising my right to remain silent. I wish to speak with a lawyer as soon as possible.” Everyone else at the house may also exercise their right to remain silent.
- If you are arrested or taken into custody, remain silent, and do not sign anything until you speak with an immigration attorney. Do not lie to ICE, as anything you say can and will be used against you. (They don’t have to remind you of your right to remain silent, as is the case in criminal proceedings). Do not answer any questions, especially those that expose your status, such as where you were born, and whether you have “papers”.
- Take detailed notes (or even pictures), concerning their badge numbers, numbers of agents, time of the raid, type of car they were driving, and exactly what happened.
- Have a plan of action in case you are taken into custody. Who will take care of your children or elderly parents if you are picked up? You may want to consider having a Power of Attorney for a trusted family member or friend, so they can make decisions on your children’s behalf, if you are arrested or deported.
- Make sure all your important documents are kept in a safe and secure location. This would include passports, birth certificates, marriage certificates, medical records, and other immigration papers. Memorize the phone numbers of two trusted people, because when you are in custody, you would not have access to your phone or “speed dial”.
- You may already want to consult with an immigration attorney concerning your rights, benefits, and relief that may be available to you just in case you are ever picked up. You want to be able to immediately call your attorney to help you, if you are suddenly picked up or taken into custody.
- Ordinarily, ICE cannot just take you to the airport and put you on a plane back to your home country. You have the right to appear in front of the judge, present your defenses or claims for relief, the right to appeal, etc. That may be another reason to already seek the advice of an attorney, who can already evaluate your case in advance, so you can “be prepared.”
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