Immigrants Must Beware
Since 2016, the US government has prioritized eradicating illegal immigration. As a result, ICE removed more than 267,000 people in 2019. ICE has raided schools, places of work, homes, public transportation vehicles and more to execute its orders to deport illegal immigrants.
However, many people, regardless of their immigration status, have legal rights protected by the US Constitution. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) outlines advice about handling an encounter with ICE and any law enforcement agency, and our attorneys believe you should get familiar with this.
When you interact with law enforcement agencies (police or ICE):
- Stay calm and compose yourself peacefully and civilly, as any threatening words or gestures could hurt you. Keep your hands in plain view.
- Don’t lie about anything, including your immigration status. You aren’t required to answer questions about your immigration status or place of birth, so you can remain silent rather than lying.
- Prepare yourself and your family for worst-case scenarios by memorizing their phone numbers and retaining a lawyer immediately. If you have kids or medical needs, plan accordingly and quickly.
You have legal rights
- You have the right to remain silent and don’t have to discuss anything related to your immigration or citizenship status with the police. Remember, anything you say can and will be used against you in an immigration court.
- If you are not a U.S. citizen and have your immigration papers on you, you are required to show them to an immigration officer if they request them.
- Immigration agents need probable cause to search you. So, if an agent randomly approaches you and asks to search you, you have the right to say “no.”
- Anyone over 18 must have their immigration papers with them at all times. If an immigration officer asks to see them and you don’t have them with you, you can tell the officer that you want to exercise your right to remain silent and/or speak to a lawyer before answering questions.
- If you get pulled over, an officer is allowed to see your license, registration, and proof of insurance, but you aren’t required to answer immigration-related questions.
- Lawful permanent residents (LPR) only have to answer questions about their identity and permanent residency when engaging with customs officers. Failure to answer other questions could result in prohibited access to the US.
- Non-citizen visa holders may be prohibited from entering the U.S. if they refuse to answer officers’ questions.
Questions? Our Immigration Lawyers Have Your Back.
It’s never a settling experience dealing with any law enforcement official, especially ICE. That’s why we encourage you to be as prepared as possible for any encounter you and your family may experience. However, no one can truly know what to expect when talking to ICE agents, as these situations can be frightening and unpredictable.
Above all, one thing you must remember is that you have the right to remain silent and ask for an attorney before answering any questions. Thus, we urge you to contact (805) 467-6060 as soon as you can to best avoid devastating consequences.