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Bardavid Law

ICE At the Door?

For many immigrants, regardless of status, an interaction with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers can be a harrowing and frightening experience. Fortunately, there are a number of rights that all people within American borders are entitled to regardless of status. First and foremost, the most important thing one can do is be aware of these rights to prevent intimidation and manipulation.

If an officer is at the door of your home claiming to be from either Immigration and Customs Enforcement or a local police department the first thing one should do is keep the door closed and request identification.

All law enforcement officers are required to carry identification and present it on request. Immigrants and similarly vulnerable communities are susceptible to intimidation by anyone claiming to be a member or representative of the government or law, so it is important to confirm who in fact is trying to make contact. Do not open the door and do not let them inside. Officers are prohibited from entering a residence without a warrant signed by a judge or your consent but may attempt to pressure you into letting them in: do not do it.  You are allowed to record by video or audio any interactions with the officers, which can be used in your defense later if they enter without permission.

Upon being presented with identification or proof of affiliation, request to see a warrant. Any legal officer, whether local, state or immigration police, is unable to enter your home without an invitation or warrant. Request to see a copy of the warrant for a search of your home. If the officers do not have a warrant, inform them that they do not have the right to enter. If they do, request that they slide it underneath the door for your examination. Look closely at the warrant to see if it contains the correct name, address, and an official signature to determine its validity. If the document does not correspond to your person or address, you are not subject to it and you should return it to the officers and note this failure

If the warrant accurately defines your identity and address, examine it to determine whether it is an Immigration and Customs Enforcement warrant or one issued by an actual court. Only a court issued warrant is valid to permit officers to enter your home. If the warrant is issued by ICE you have a right to refuse the officers entry.   The below samples show the difference between the two types of warrants.

This is what an ICE warrant looks like.  If the warrant you are shown looks like this, the officers have no right to enter your home.

Only with a warrant that looks like this would officers have a right to enter your home.

If the warrant is for your arrest, do not make any statements to the officer or sign any documents.  You have the right to remain silent regardless of immigration status.  “I want a lawyer” is the only statement you should make.  If they are coming to arrest you, and have a warrant for your arrest, you will not be able to talk your way out of it.  Do not answer any questions or volunteer any additional information. You or someone in your home should have the contact information of an immigration attorney

If you find yourself under arrest or being otherwise detained the most important thing to do is reach out to a qualified attorney who can protect your rights. Do not be intimidated, remain calm, volunteer nothing, and contact your attorney.

The greatest tool you can wield is knowledge of your rights and the restrictions on law enforcement.