Written by attorney Stephen Andrew Mosca

Immigration: How to Handle Encounters with Immigration Officials

If immigration officials show up at your house or make an arrest elsewhere, there are few things you should know, and a few things you can take care of in advance to assist if an arrest occurs.

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Request an Interpreter and a Lawyer immediately. If you require assistance reading anything given to you or understanding what is being told to you, request an interpreter right away. Even if you feel you do understand, you may be better served with an interpreter, as many words in the legal field are "terms of art," having special meanings, that need to be carefully and accurately heard and understood. Try to make pre-arrangements with someone to bond you out if you think an arrest is possible in your situation. The same applies if there are children who may be left alone if an adult or caregiver is arrested: make advance arrangements. If possible, have an immigration agency or attorney available to respond to any arrest as quickly as possible. You may even consider hiring an attorney on retainer if you suspect you may come under scrutiny or arrest in the future due to your immigration status. Try to alert ICE immediately of any medical issues you may have, the need for an interpreter, and your desire to see and be represented by a lawyer. If you want your cell phone contents to remain private, stick to using a numeric code to unlock. Fingerprints, Iris, and Face recognition may not be protected by the 5th amendment whereas telling anyone your code can be considered testimonial and therefore protected. In many cases, disposition will be "fast tracked." This means that if you admit to violations of immigration law, or any law implicating your immigration status, you can be deported back to your country of origin in a few short weeks. Plan accordingly.

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