Our office is frequently asked about what to do if Immigration and Customs Enforcement comes knocking on your door? This video explains your rights and how only you can assert your rights.
Learn what to do when that knock occurs and how to handle yourself when dealing with ICE.
Knock, knock. It’s ICE, Immigration Customs Enforcement, knocking at your door. What do you do? Hi, I’m Jim Hacking, Immigration and Deportation Attorney here in St. Louis, Missouri. Frequently, people who are in the United States get contacted by ICE with a knock at the door, and a lot of times, people have questions about what rights they have and what they should do, so we thought we’d make this video to sort of outline it for you.
The first thing you should do to make sure that they’re legitimate law enforcement, is to ask them to show you their identification. Hopefully, you have a peep-hole or a window on the side that you can look through it, because you don’t open the door right away. You want them to identify themselves. If they have a business card, ask them to pass it through the mail slot or to slide it under the door, because you want to make sure that you’re dealing with legitimate law enforcement and not somebody acting like they’re with the Department of Homeland Security or Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
The next thing you want to do after you verified who they are, and if you have a question, you should call that agency and check their credentials, but if they do have proper ID, ask them if they have a warrant. Now, a warrant is a document that directs you to comply with an order, either from an administrative agency or from a court, and there’s two kinds of warrants. Ones are from courts, and the others are from ICE. So, if you get a warrant, and you want to take a good careful look at it and make sure to read it all the way through and make sure that it’s valid, and I know that might be hard for some unsophisticated people who aren’t lawyers, but you can still make sure that it shows the right address or the right person. If there’s something fundamentally wrong with the warrant, make sure to point that out to the officers through the door.
The warrants may be for a premises or they may be for a person. If the warrant is for a person, you should not let them into the house, and you should not let them into the house unless they have a warrant that specifically says they’re allowed access to the premises, the apartment or the house at issue. If they don’t have that, you don’t want to give your consent for them to answer, or to enter your apartment or house. You want to come outside and meet with them [00:02:00] face to face and close the door behind you.
The reason for this is that if you have things in the house you don’t want them to see, or if there’s people in your house that they don’t necessarily know about or that are here outside of legal status, then you’re going to want to come outside on the front porch and talk to them. So, don’t ever give them your consent to come inside, and they might try to talk you into letting them look around, but unless they have a warrant to search your premises, don’t let them in.
Make sure that you don’t provide any false documents to ICE. That’s a big problem, or to any kind of law enforcement, and you don’t really want to answer any questions beyond what your name is. If they ask you your immigration status, don’t tell them. If they ask for ID, you have to provide … If you have the US identification, you should give that to them. Otherwise, don’t give them your passport and don’t give them any birth certificates or any other identifying documents. Your job there is to be respectful. If they’re taking you into custody, do so quietly. Ask that you have a loved one call an immigration attorney or other family member so that you can figure out what to do next.
Most importantly, you don’t want to sign anything. So, don’t sign anything giving away your rights. Don’t sign away anything allowing them to search your premises. Don’t sign anything saying that you’re willing to go back to your home country until you speak to an experienced immigration attorney. So, these are the kinds of things you need to keep in mind. I know it’s a very stressful time with people knocking at your door. I know that you’re probably scared, and that you should be because it’s an important and serious thing, but you do have rights and at that point in time, you’re the only person who can assert those rights.
So, make sure that you stand up for yourself to the extent that you can. Make sure that you are respectful, but be firm and don’t give too much information. Don’t tell them more than you need too. Just answer their questions and if you have any questions about interacting with ICE, or if you or a loved one has been taken into custody, feel free to give us a call at 314-961-8200. You can also shoot me an email, firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks a lot.