Getting Stopped or Picked Up by ICE: Know Your Rights

As noted above, President Trump’s EO “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States” effectively ended the priority system put in place by President Obama, which classified targets for removal based upon the seriousness of their crimes. Under the old system, by using prosecutorial discretion, foreign nationals who had not been convicted of any crimes while in the United States were reasonable safe from removal – even if they were detained at the scene of an ICE raid. Not anymore.

The abolishment of the PEP under the Executive Order has had two immediate effects. First, those in removal proceedings can no longer depend on prosecutorial discretion to administratively close their immigration court case simply because they have no criminal convictions and strong ties to the community. Second, ICE has been targeting individuals without criminal convictions but who, instead, have old final orders of removal. Under this system, it has become increasingly important for foreign nationals who are unlawfully present to understand their rights.

If agents come to your home, first and foremost, do not open the door. Ask to see a warrant.  If the agents have a warrant, make them slip it under the door or through a cracked opening of a chained door. ICE agents cannot enter without your permission if they do not have a judicial warrant. Note that an administrative ICE warrant is not sufficient; it must be signed by a judge. Next, once you have a copy of the warrant, check to make sure all of the information is accurate: it should have the correctly spelled name of someone in the home, it should have the exact address, be valid for the current date, etc. If any of these items are incorrect, you can refuse to open the door and request that ICE leave and only return with an accurate warrant. Should ICE have a judicial warrant with accurate information, you must let them in to search the areas listed on the warrant. At this point, cooperation is always key. If you are in a residence or business that has become the target of an ICE raid, fleeing or resisting could result in harm to you or your property.

Remember, anything you say to an ICE officer, whether during a raid or in detention, can and will be used against you. The best thing you can do in such an event is to say nothing at all, which is your right under the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. If you feel compelled to speak, limit it to you name and, if applicable, legal status (such as DACA, TPS, green card holder, etc.). Under no circumstances should you ever give false or misleading information to an ICE officer. ICE is known for trying to force foreign nationals to sign their own removal. Be cordial but do not offer any more information than is necessary, and absolutely do not sign anything. Ask to speak with your attorney or make a phone call to family.
 
ICE has been increasingly eager to place people in expedited removal if they are able. This is particularly dangerous for those who live in metropolitan areas close to the border. It is not uncommon for people who have valid claims to remain in the United States to be removed without getting an opportunity to be heard. To avoid expedited removal, we encourage those who are vulnerable to keep with them proof that they have been in the United States for more than 14 days, or, once the new DHS guidance is released, for more than the stated amount of time, presumably two years.

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