Immigration enforcement raids dominated the news in July and August. While new ICE raids in 10 cities in July did not materialize, a raid in Mississippi on August 7 resulted in the detention of some 680 undocumented immigrants in what a federal prosecutor described as a record-setting operation, “the largest single-state immigration enforcement operation in our nation’s history.” The U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Mississippi confirmed that arrests took place at seven sites in six different cities in Mississippi.
In this environment, it is important to know your rights and how to exercise them. Unfortunately, ICE is notorious for detaining or attempting to detain people without the proper authority to do so. Instead of going through the required steps to obtain that authority, ICE relies on intimidation and a lack of understanding of the law. The following is a summary of your rights in certain situations.
What do I do if ICE comes to my house?
1. Do not open the door!
2. Ask to see a warrant. Have the officer slip it under the door or hold it up to a window. If ICE produces a document, check to make sure it is a judicial warrant. A warrant of removal (Form I-205) does NOT entitle ICE to enter your home, as it is not a real warrant. A judicial warrant will: include the name of the court at the top of the page; be signed by a judge; indicate the person for whom they are searching; and list the address and date.
3. If ICE produces a document that seems to meet these requirements, check to make sure the information on the warrant is exactly correct — the date is today’s date, the name is spelled correctly, the address is your home.
4. If there is a judicial warrant and it contains correct information, have the person or persons listed on the warrant step outside and shut the door behind them. Do not run or fight. Have a family member contact an attorney immediately.
5. You have the right to remain silent even if ICE has a proper warrant.
What do I do if I am stopped by police or ICE?
1. You have the right to remain silent and should state that you are exercising your right to do so.
2. Unless you are at an international border or airport or are required by your visa (such as a B1/B2), you do not have to answer questions relating to where you were born, whether or not you are a citizen, or how you entered the country.
3. You do not have to consent to a search of your personal belongings.
4. You have the right to contact an attorney. If you are in ICE custody, note that an attorney will not be provided for you; however, you can retain one at your own expense.
What can I do in preparation?
1. Make sure you have a copy of your important documents in a safe place that another family member knows about. This includes things like your passport, green card, birth certificate, etc.
2. Retain proof of how long you have been here, including documents such as taxes, pay stubs, photos, etc. There are certain forms of relief that require you to prove how long you have been in the United States.
3. Memorize the phone number of someone who understands your situation so that you can contact them if needed.
4. If you are given an Alien Registration Number (A Number) memorize it and share this with a family member. This will make it much easier for them to locate you should you be detained.
5. Make a plan for what will happen with your children should you be detained. Who will take care of them? Have you authorized someone else to pick them up from school? If your children are U.S. citizens, have you obtained their passport??
6. Contact an attorney to understand your options and to see if there is anything you can do now to obtain status or prevent removal.