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Know Your Rights: When may Immigration enter my home?

Since the innauguration of our new President, the number of raids performed by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, has increased considerably. Many of our immigration clients have contacted us recently to know what are their rights if ICE knocks on their door.

The “National Immigration Law Center” has a very nice guide on how to act if that happens, since 2008. Take a look at the original article here.

We took the liberty to copy and make available to our clients and immigrants on our area this very useful information below:

When may Immigration enter my home?

Immigration officers may not enter your home unless they have a “warrant.” A warrant is a document issued by a court or government agency. There are two types of warrant — one for when they are coming to arrest you, and another for when they have permission from a judge tosearch your home. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) can issue arrest warrants, but only a court can issue a search warrant.

  • If an officer knocks on your door, do not open it. Ask the officer through the closed door to identify himself. You can say, “Who are you with?” or “What agency are you with?”
    The officer might say that he is with “Department of Homeland Security” or “U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.” The officer might name another agency. No matter what, keep the door closed. Through the closed door, ask the officer if he has a warrant.
  • If he says “yes,” still do not open the door. Ask him to show you the warrant by slipping it under the door.
  • When examining the warrant, look for your name, your address, and a signature. This can help you decide whether or not the warrant is valid (true). The warrant will be in English. If you have trouble reading it or understanding it, get someone else in your house to help you read it or translate it, if possible.
  • If the warrant does not look valid, you should return it under the door and say it is incorrect.
  • If the warrant the officer shows you looks valid, look to see if it was issued by a court or by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
  • If the valid warrant was issued by a court and authorizes a search of your house, you should let the officer in the house.
  • If the valid warrant looks like it was issued by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) but not a court, you have the right not to let the officer enter your house. If the warrant authorizes your arrest but not a search of your house, you may want to go outside to meet the officers but not let them in the house. This is especially important if you live with other people who might have immigration problems, because once you allow the officer into your house, he can ask questions of anyone else who is there, too.
  • If you do talk to the officer (again, outside your house — do not let him in), do not answer any questions. Do not sign any papers. Tell the officer you want to talk to a lawyer before you say anything. Do not provide any kind of identification documents that say what country you are from. Make sure not to carry any false documents with you at any time.
  • Another way an immigration officer can enter your home legally (besides if he has a valid warrant) is if you give the officer permission to enter. This is called giving the officer your“consent” to enter your home.
  • If you open your door, or if the officer asks if he can come in and you say “yes,” you are probably consenting to his entering your home.
  • The best thing to do is to keep the door closed and ask the officer to identify himself. Then ask to see a warrant. Do not open the door if he cannot show you a warrant.
  • An officer is not allowed to force you to consent to his entering your home. For example, if your house is surrounded by Border Patrol or Immigration cars with their lights flashing, and the officer is holding his gun as he asks for permission (your consent) to enter your home, and you say “yes” because you’re afraid, a court would probably not consider this to be valid consent.
  • Next month we will have more on this. In the meantime, feel free to follow the link on this page to learn more about your rights.

    Again, if you have any further questions, don’t hesitate to contact us. We will gladly help you out.

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Thomas & Thomas

Tri-State Area Immigration, Criminal Defense, Family and Injury Law Firm. Accessible, Responsive Legal Help at Your Service. We provide our clients with protection: legal, immigration and financial. If you need a criminal defense, personal injury, work injury, family or immigration attorney in the Tri-State area, we would like to speak with you. Any of these legal issues can threaten your freedoms and your livelihood. You need proactive, dedicated legal counsel to secure the best possible resolution to the problems you face. We speak Spanish, Portuguese and French.

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