QUESTION: I’m so afraid to open my door now. I’ve heard ICE agents are doing round-ups and just deporting people left and rights. What can I do?
Answer: All people living in the United States, including undocumented immigrants, have certain U.S. Constitutional rights. If you are undocumented and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents knock on your door, know that you have the following rights:
• You do not have to open the door. You do not have to open the door or let the officers into your home unless they have a valid search warrant signed by a judge.
• An ICE deportation warrant is not the same as a search warrant. If this is the only document they have, they cannot legally come inside unless you verbally agree to let them in.
• If the officers say they have a search warrant signed by a judge, ask them to slide it under the door or hold it up to a window so you can see it.
• If the warrant does not have your correct name and address on it and is not signed by a judge you do not have to open the door or let them inside.
• If at any point you decide to speak with the officers, you do not need to open the door to do so. You can speak to them through the door or step outside and close the door.
• You have the right to remain silent. You do not need to speak to the immigration officers or answer any questions.
• If you are asked where you were born or how you entered the United States, you may refuse to answer or remain silent.
• If you choose to remain silent, say so out loud.
• You may show a know-your-rights card to the officer that explains that you will remain silent and wish to speak to a lawyer.
• You may refuse to show identity documents that say what country you are from.
• Do not show any false documents and do not lie.
• You have the right to speak to a lawyer. If you are detained or taken into custody, you have the right to immediately contact a lawyer.
• Even if you do not have a lawyer, you may tell the immigration officers that you want to speak to one.
• If you have a lawyer, you have the right to talk to them. If you have a signed Form G-28, which shows you have a lawyer, give it to an officer.
• If you do not have a lawyer, ask an immigration officer for a list of pro bono lawyers.
• You also have the right to contact your consulate. The consulate may be able to assist you in locating a lawyer.
• You can refuse to sign any/all paperwork until you have had the opportunity to speak to a lawyer.
• If you choose to sign something without speaking to a lawyer, be sure you understand exactly what the document says and means before you sign it.
In fact, your immigration attorney should give you a ‘know your rights card’ which you can show the officer.
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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.