Interacting With ICE: Know Your Rights

Interactions with ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) may cause a lot of apprehension for non-citizens in the United States. Therefore, it is essential that these parties are aware of what their rights are and how to go about these interactions. Listed below are the recommended steps for individuals who are approached by ICE.

This is not legal advice. If you are in a crisis, please contact a lawyer. For more general information, visit the ACLU website.

Step 1: Do not open the door

  • ICE officers are required to have a warrant to enter your home. Opening the door does not mean they are permitted to enter, but it is safer to interact through the door if possible.

Step 2: Ask for identification

  • ICE officers may not be wearing clothing that has identifying factors suggesting who they are, as they are not obligated to. Opening the door to your home does not grant them permission to enter, so it would be wise to stand in front of/block the doorway until they provide a warrant.

Step 3: Ask if they have a warrant and ask to see it

  • Ask the ICE officers to slide the warrant under the door or hold it up to a window. A proper warrant should have your name and a judge’s signature on the document. There are three types of warrants:

  • 1) Search warrant: ICE officers can come into your residence and search through your belongings for something specific; the document should specify what the officers are looking for

  • 2) Arrest warrant: allows ICE officers to detain and arrest you

  • 3) Administrative warrant: does not allow for ICE officers to arrest or detain you nor enter your home; the document is not signed by a judge

  • Phrases to know:

  • “I do not consent to you entering my home.”

  • “I do not consent to your search.”

  • “I do not wish to answer your questions.”

Step 4: If they enter your home, inform them who is inside

  • ICE officers should be made aware of all residents inside the home, especially children, elders, and people with medical conditions; they may possibly be more empathetic in the process. For example, “My mother lives here and has a heart condition, can we please be discrete about this.” If detained, any health concerns should be properly relayed to the officers, such as needed medication. It is generally advised that you avoid answering their questions but if you choose to answer, always speak the truth.

If you believe that you could be at risk for removal, establishing a safety plan is essential.

  • Make sure other people are aware of your situation

  • Distribute your phone number to family and friends

  • Designate an alternate caregiver

  • Create contact forms and safeguard important information and documents

  • Keep photo ID on you (can be photocopies instead of originals)

  • Memorize important phone numbers

For more information on interactions with ICE or questions specific to your case, please contact Journey’s End Refugee Services at 716-882-4963.

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