KNOW YOUR RIGHTS: WHAT TO DO IF IMMIGRATION AGENTS COME TO YOUR DOOR
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (known as “ICE”) officers are currently performing a high number of raids on a daily basis under Trump’s new executive order. The targets of these raids are people with final orders of deportation or any arrest record; however, many undocumented immigrants with no criminal record are also being detained in the process.
What can you do if immigration agents come to your door? Here are 9 steps for what to do in case of a raid:
- Get in touch with a community or advocacy group, or an immigration attorney, right now. The best defense against immigration enforcement practices that separate our families is to be organized and be prepared beforehand. Being in touch with a community organization or an immigration attorney can give you resources that you need to defend yourself and your family, information about your rights, and can offer you legal defense, if something should happen.
- Create an emergency plan for taking care of children, the elderly, or other people who depend on your care. Provide them with the contact information of a trusted person whom they can call if you get taken into custody. Have the paperwork prepared to grant a trusted person permission to pick up your children from school, the doctor, or perform other duties in your place while you are detained.
- Memorize the phone number of two trusted people and your attorney. When in custody, you will not have access to your phone so you’ll need to have contact numbers memorized. These trusted persons should know that they are your contacts in case of emergency (i.e. if you get taken into custody by ICE), know where your important documents are, and what is your emergency plan. You should also memorize the name and phone number of your attorney so you can contact him or her right away if you are detained.
- If ICE agents come to your home, do not open the door. Even if they tell you they are looking for someone else, or they show you the photograph of the person they are looking for and you do not know them, do NOT open the door. If the ICE agents say they have a warrant, ask them to slip it under the door or show you through a window. The document should be signed by a judge, and have the name of the person they are pursuing and address that they have permission to search. You still don’t have to open the door even if they have a warrant, but it means they likely will come in anyway. However, if they come in without your permission and without a warrant, it is a violation of civil rights.
- Remain silent. Anything you say can be used against you by ICE. Unlike in a criminal arrest, you will not be reminded by the agents of your right to remain silent, nor will they read you Miranda rights. Do not answer any questions, especially those that expose your status like where were you born, whether or not you have immigration paperwork, etc.
- VERY IMPORTANT: Do not sign any papers without your attorneyor agree to be fingerprinted. Immigration agents sometimes insist that people should sign confessions or their own deportation order, ironically called “voluntary departure”. They often coerce people by telling them that they will be detained for a long time unless they sign the paperwork. Do not sign anything without fully understanding it and having the advice of a trusted lawyer. ICE agents have also asked for people’s fingerprints. You do not have to allow them to take your fingerprints.
- Document the raid. Take pictures, the names of the agents (if possible), ask for their badge number, count how many agents were present and if they had guns. Write down whether they were given permission to enter the house, and get the names and birthdays of those taken into custody. If you don’t get a chance until afterward, write down what you remember as soon as you are able to and report it to a community organization.
- Know that you can fight your case. Get advice from a trusted attorney and look for resources in your community. Just because you have been detained or are ordered deported doesn’t mean that you are out of options. Many times, immigrants do not receive proper representation from their attorneys, and are ordered deported even though they have solid evidence that they should be allowed to stay in the country. Other times, attention from the community is able to get ICE to re-consider a person’s deportation.
- Report the raid: Make sure you report the raid. Contact the Mexican Consulate, Salvadoran Consulate, or other consulates from the individual’s country of origin against which the raid was targeted.
The Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC), the Immigrant Defense Project (IDP), and National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild (NIPNLG) are committed to providing important resources to immigrants. Additional resources for safety planning against ICE raids can be found in the following links:
- NIPNLG Know Your Rights – travel safety planning, demonstrations & more: https://www.nationalimmigrationproject.org/tools.html
- NIPNLG Practice Alert for Lawyers on Trump’s January 25, 2016 EOs: http://www.nationalimmigrationproject.org/PDFs/practitioners/practice_advisories/gen/2017_26Jan-trump-enforce.pdf
- IDP Know Your Rights: http://www.immdefense.org/ice-home-and-community-arrests/
- IDP Defending Against ICE Raids Toolkit: http://www.immdefense.org/raids-toolkit/
- ILRC Know Your Rights (English/Spanish/Chinese): https://www.ilrc.org/know-your-rights-and-what-immigrant-families-should-do-now
- ILRC Red Cards: https://www.ilrc.org/red-cards