It’s a confusing time for refugee immigration right now, in the United States. The laws and policies are changing often, sometimes daily, and even more changes seem to be on the horizon. Due to the dynamic and unsteady climate for immigrants and asylum seekers, there is a lot of fear and misinformation circulating. Regardless of your immigration status, it’s imperative to know your rights, especially when dealing with law enforcement, including Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). This information is particularly important to individuals seeking asylum in the USA. If you, or someone you know is confronted by ICE, keep a level head and avoid these common mistakes.
Lying to ICEIt’s important, regardless of the situation, to be honest. Don’t give false information to ICE (or any law enforcement official). Anything you say can be used against you and dishonest information will help an agent establish a case on you and your character. Under this same category, do not present ICE with forged or false documents. However, if you feel like delivering an honest answer will incriminate you, decline to respond at all.
Forgetting to Ask ICE for WarrantTo enter your home, an ICE agent must present a warrant signed by a judge, and the warrant must include your name or the name of someone who resides in your house. If ICE knocks on your door and insists on entering, ask to see the warrant. You don’t need to open the door, instead ask the agent to show you the warrant through the window or slide it under the door. When you’re inspecting the warrant, ensure there is a signature at the top from a judge. Warrants that are not signed by a judge are not enough to allow an agent to enter your home. See examples of what the different warrants look like. If the agent does not or will not present an official warrant signed by a judge, then you may refuse to open the door and state, “I do not consent to your entry.” If agents force their way into your residence, do not resist. Instead, ask for a lawyer, remain silent and do not answer any questions or sign any documents until a lawyer is present.
Responding to ICE Without Understanding The QuestionIt can be very frightening to be detained or confronted by ICE agents, and that is especially true if you’re unsure what is being asked. If you don’t understand the questions or charges, ask for an interpreter, a lawyer or for further clarification. Until you completely understand what is happening, refrain from responding to questions, and do not sign any documentation or consent to searches of any kind.
Being Unprepared for ICELearning the laws, understanding your rights and making a solid plan with your family is the best way to prepare for a potential situation with ICE. Remember, it’ll be easier to stay calm if you have a plan in place before being confronted by ICE. If you think that you may become the target of ICE, there are a few planning essentials that will help.
- Keep all your immigration documentation and other important paperwork in an easy to find location. Also, ensure your family also knows where to find these documents.
- Memorize important phone numbers, including your lawyer and your family members so you can make a call quickly, no matter where you are.