What Should I Do If ICE Shows Up at My House?
What should I do if ICE shows up at my house? Tadeo & Silva Law can explain what the law says you should do in such instances. Call us today for more information.
Author: Massiel Silva Tadeo, Founder, Tadeo & Silva
Attorney Massiel Silva Tadeo is a partner and owner at The Tadeo & Silva Law Firm. She specializes in removal (deportation) defense, family immigration, and hardship waivers. Published on: November 30, 2023.
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Steps to Take if ICE Comes to Your Home
Once you are in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody, it can be a slippery and fast road to deportation. If you are currently undocumented or have a complicated immigration status, it is a great idea to be prepared in case ICE agents ever show up at your door. It is also a good idea to consult an immigration lawyer to help you with your immigration process.
If ICE officers show up at your home, the appropriate response to them depends on what they have come for and the credentials they come with. The most important thing to note is that you have rights, and you should not be afraid to use them. Keep your door closed, and do not invite the officers in unless they have a warrant signed by a judge. It could also be wise to call your immigration attorney at that point.
Keep reading to find out in detail how to appropriately respond to ICE officers showing up at your home.
ICE Agents Are at Your Door – What Next?
Below are some steps you can take if immigration officers show up at your home unannounced:
Do Not Open the Door
Ask them to identify themselves. This includes asking them for the agency they are with and the names of the officers. Regardless of the agency they mention, keep the door closed. Instead, ask them if they have a warrant.
If they have no warrant, you can refuse to open the door and disengage from the encounter. However, you should contact your lawyer as soon as possible because the officers may soon come back with a warrant.
Examine the Warrant
If they say they have a warrant, ask them to slide it under the door or pass it through some other means without opening your door. Examine it to make sure it is genuine and valid. Check for your name and address on it. Also, check to confirm that it is signed by a judge.
If it is an administrative warrant issued by the ICE themselves, you may refuse to acknowledge it and keep your door locked. If the license is a genuine court-issued warrant, you need to check whether it is an arrest warrant or a search warrant. This determines the appropriate next step to take.
If they present an arrest warrant:
You can step out of your home to meet the immigration agents but deny them consent to enter your home. This is important if you have other people in your home who have immigration issues as well. The officers can only arrest the person listed on the warrant.
When you step out, do not answer any questions you are asked. This is in order to avoid incriminating yourself. Rather, you can simply say that you wish to invoke your Fifth Amendment right to remain silent. You have the right to remain silent regardless of the arrest warrant.
Do not sign any papers or provide any ID that may show your country of origin. Also, make sure you do not step out with any false documents on you. Tell the officers that you would like to speak with your attorney before you say anything.
If they present a search warrant:
You would have to let them in if they have a judicial warrant to search your address. Make sure you review the warrant to find out what areas they are allowed to search in your house and what items they are allowed to search for. They are only allowed to search within the limits of the warrant.
Document details of anyone or anything taken after the search and contact your attorney as soon as possible.
Other Safety Steps
Make sure someone trustworthy knows where you are if you are being detained. Also, make sure you and your family members or friends have the contact of a skilled immigration attorney who can help you as soon as possible.
Consider keeping copies of your important documents with a trusted person in case you need them while in detention.
Can an Immigration Officer Forcefully Enter Your Home?
Both judicial search and arrest warrants allow immigration authorities to enter your home. In the case of a search warrant, they can enter your home to conduct the search as detailed on the warrant, whereas in the case of an arrest warrant, they can enter your home if they have reason to believe the person listed on the warrant is in the house.
However, in the case of an arrest warrant, the person listed on the warrant can step outside to meet the agents, in which case, they would not have a reason for entering the house. If they forcibly enter the house after arresting you or whoever else is listed on the warrant, your lawyer may be able to bring this up in front of an immigration judge as an overstep of authority.
Also, immigration officers may not enter your home by force if they only have an administrative warrant. If they have no warrant, they need your consent to enter your home. They are not allowed to force you to consent by threatening you.
What Happens if You Are Arrested by ICE?
If you are an undocumented immigrant and the ICE gets hold of you, they will place you in an immigration detention center. Then, you will face removal proceedings at an immigration court. If the judge enters a deportation order, you will be removed from U.S. soil.
While you have a right to an attorney, U.S. immigration laws do not mandate the U.S. government to provide one for you. Therefore, if you do not hire an experienced immigration attorney quickly, you may be deported without any chance to defend your immigration status in the U.S.
Tadeo & Silva Law Can Help You
At our law firm, we help clients handle issues relating to all branches of U.S. immigration law. If you are struggling with getting your immigration papers or are facing the risk of deportation, we are here for you. One of our partners, Massiel Silva Tadeo, specifically focuses her practice on deportation defense. We have experience successfully representing several clients in immigration court.
Our team of highly skilled, knowledgeable, and capable lawyers is ready to come to your defense. Contact us as soon as possible so we can provide you with the assistance you need to legally remain in the United States.
Book a consultation with us to answer all of your questions!