These days, if you are not a citizen of this country, your ability to remain in this country could be in jeopardy. Even if you have a green card, you could potentially face deportation under certain circumstances.
The sad fact is that anyone who is not a U.S. citizen isn't safe at this point. This means that agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement could come knocking on your door, which can be unnerving. It may help to understand your legal rights.
ICE agents may come knocking, but they can't come in
Even though you are not a citizen of the United States, you still have rights. Federal, state or local law enforcement officials do not have the right to simply enter your home without your permission or without court authorization. If ICE agents come to your home, you may want to keep the following in mind:
- You are not obligated to open the door just because they knocked or rang the bell. In fact, you probably should not open the door until you have more information.
- If you do let them in voluntarily, you waive your right to a search warrant.
- If the agents claim to have a warrant, you have a right to see it before opening the door. You may ask them to somehow slide it through the door or hold it up to a window so you can read it.
- If the warrant is only an ICE deportation warrant, you do not have to let them in your home. Agents need a valid search warrant signed by a judge in order to legally enter.
- Make sure that the warrant correctly identifies you by name and bears the signature of a judge. If it does not, politely ask them to leave and only come back with a valid search warrant.
If you do speak with ICE agents, you may do so by stepping outside the door and closing it behind you or through the door. You do not have to let them inside.
If ICE agents have a valid search warrant
If you determine that the search warrant is valid, it may be in your best interests to exercise the following rights to which you are entitled:
- You do not have to divulge your country of origin, your criminal record or your immigration status.
- If agents don't have a warrant for them, you are not required to turn over your passport or consular documents.
- You may refrain from signing any documentation given to you by ICE.
- You have the right to remain silent, and you should more than likely use it.
- You have the right to an attorney.
If you do say anything to ICE agents, tell the truth. Lying only makes matters worse.