Know your rights: Interacting with ICE
Everyone has rights when dealing with immigration officers. The most important thing is to remember that you do not have to answer any questions, and you are allowed to talk to a lawyer. Review these other tips so you can be prepared in an emergency.
You may refuse to speak to immigration officers. You do not have to answer questions or volunteer information. You must tell them that you want to remain silent.
Contact a lawyer
Do not speak to officers or sign any documents until you have a lawyer. Tell the officers that you want to talk to your lawyer. Because public defenders are not assigned to immigration cases, you will have to find a free attorney or hire one yourself.
Ask for an interpreter
Any documents you are asked to sign must be in a language you understand.
Carry any valid immigration documents with you
Have your work permit, green card, state ID with you, in case you need to show it.
Do not open your door
If ICE comes to your home, you do not need to let them in. It is safer to speak to them through the door. But, opening your door does not give them permission to enter your home. Immigration lawyer Sophie Alcorn recommends installing a bar lock on your door, so you can open it slightly to speak, without letting them inside.
What to do instead
Ask if they are from ICE and why they are here. If they do not speak your language, ask for an interpreter.
Ask if they have a warrant signed by a judge (they usually do not). If they do, ask them to slip the warrant under your door, or show it to you through a window if possible.
A valid warrant will be from the court, signed by a judge. Look for a signature with the title “Judge” underneath. This is a legal warrant, and the officers have the authority to enter and search your home or arrest the person whose name is on the warrant.
A document that says “Warrant of Removal/Deportation” does not permit officers to enter on its own.
If agents come in anyway, do not resist. Instead, you and anyone in your home can say:
- I do not consent to this search.
- I want to remain silent.
- I want to talk to a lawyer.
Do not lie to officers or show them false documents. Do not volunteer any information either. You do not have to answer any of their questions. Instead, wait until you can talk to a lawyer.
If you have children, tell them. ICE officers are permitted to use discretion when detaining a parent or caregiver.
You can find legal help or read more about immigration law in the Avvo immigration resource center.