QUESTION: I have a friend that was ‘visited’ by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents. They told him that he had no rights and that he was going to detention for 20 years unless he signed the voluntary deportation papers. Is this true?
Answer: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (or ICE) is a U.S. federal government law enforcement agency under the jurisdiction of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). ICE has two primary components: Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO). However, how they have been conducting their deportation enforcement falls short of falling under the law.
In sum, under regulations prescribed by the Attorney General, an officer or employee of the Service may carry a firearm and may execute and serve any order, warrant, subpoena, summons, or other process issued under the authority of the United States. The authority to make arrests under paragraph (5)(B) shall only be effective on and after the date on which the Attorney General publishes final regulations which (i) prescribe the categories of officers and employees of the Service who may use force (including deadly force) and the circumstances under which such force may be used, (ii) establish standards with respect to enforcement activities of the Service, (iii) require that any officer or employee of the Service is not authorized to make arrests under paragraph (5)(B) unless the officer or employee has received certification as having completed a training program which covers such arrests and standards described in clause (ii), and (iv) establish an expedited, internal review process for violations of such standards, which process is consistent with standard agency procedure regarding confidentiality of matters related to internal investigations.
Now, given their authority, that is what they can do. However, they CANNOT force you to sign a voluntary deportation paper. They CANNOT force you to give up your right to fight your case in front of a deportation immigration judge. They CANNOT force you to sign anything.
Question: The ICE official came to the door of my friend and pretended to be a police officer and said “Hello. Please open up – We are the police and doing an investigation.” Is that legal?
Answer: The use of this type of tactic is particularly egregious in heavily immigrant cities such as Los Angeles and San Francisco, where police and elected officials have tried for decades to distinguish their cops from federal immigration agents, in an effort to convince immigrants living illegally in their cities that they can interact with local police without fear of deportation. The president’s announcement of his intent to dramatically increase the number of people ICE apprehends for deportation has increased concerns from immigrant advocates that the tactic will grow even more prevalent.
There is something fundamentally unfair about ICE exploiting local and state policies that are trying to improve public safety by promoting immigrants trust in law enforcement. Thus, the bottom line is that there are many ways of fighting your case. Do not let ICE officials intimidate you and force you into a corner. Stick your ground, don’t sign anything, and request your hearing in front of an immigration judge.
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Atty. Brian D. Lerner has been an Immigration Attorney for nearly a quarter of a century. He is married to a Filipina and has helped thousands of Filipino families all over the country. In addition to his offices in Southern California in Long Beach and Carson, he has an office in Quezon City. He is a certified specialist in Immigration and Nationality Law by the Legal Board of Specialization, California State Bar. The initial consultation is free. Call (562) 495-0554 and/or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.