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The United States Constitution affords rights to all citizens of this country, but did you know that undocumented immigrants also have rights under the Constitution? In the current climate of uncertainty with the onslaught of newly elected officials, many immigrants are concerned about what may happen to them. Will there be stronger enforcement tactics against the undocumented as has been publicly announced by the President-elect? Will there be an end to DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) affecting thousands of young people that were granted work permits? No one knows yet what possible changes might take place in the future.

Here is what you need to know when dealing with ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) or other law enforcement officers.

(Source: National Immigration Law Center)

1. You have the right to remain silent.

You do not have to speak to an immigration officer, as a matter of fact, you should not even answer any questions about how you came to the U.S. or where you were born. Just say that you are exercising your right to refuse to answer any questions until you have talked with a lawyer.

2. Do not open your door.

If ICE arrives at your door, in order for them to detain you or question you, they must have a warrant. This warrant must be signed by a judge and must have your correct name and address on it. You can ask them to slip the warrant under the door or hold it up against a window for you to view it, if possible. ICE have been known in the past to lie to people just to get them to open their doors.

3. You have the right to talk to a lawyer.

If ICE or other law enforcement wants to question you then you can say that you want to talk to your lawyer. Do not sign any document without first discussing this with an immigration lawyer because ICE may try to get you sign a document that gives up your right to see a lawyer or judge.

4. If you have a Green Card or valid Work Permit, always carry it with you.

Make a photocopy of your green card or work permit to leave at home or in a safe place. Consider storing a scanned copy online in a cloud-based App like Dropbox or OneDrive. In case you lose the original it will be easier to replace if you have a copy. If you are stopped by ICE or law enforcement, you don’t want to be mistakenly considered an undocumented immigrant due to racial and immigrant profiling.

5. Do not carry your foreign passport or papers from another country.

If you are stopped or detained by ICE or law enforcement, having your foreign passport on you can be used against you in the deportation process. Again, just say that you are exercising your right to remain silent until you speak to a lawyer and do not admit where you are from.

6. If you have U.S. citizen children, let ICE know.

This is one thing you can tell ICE or law enforcement if you are concerned that you may be arrested. If you are the parent of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident child under age 18, you should tell them because ICE does have the ability to exercise discretion in such a case and let you go.

7. Give your Alien number to family and trusted friends.

Should you be detained and taken into custody by ICE, your family can find you much easier if they know your Alien number (if you have one). This is a 9-digit or 8-digit number (if 8 digits, then place a zero in front) which can be entered into some online systems or given to the local ICE office to find out where you have been taken. (See Resources below).

8. Take photos and videos if it is safe to do so.

It’s now pretty easy to quickly snap some photos, or even better, take some video to capture voice recordings with your cell phone. Practice in advance so you know how to use the features of your phone. Should you be involved in, or be a witness to an immigration raid or arrest, try to capture what is taking place, as long as it’s safe. Write down notes if you can.


United We Dream hotline to report a raid: 844-363-1423, or send text message to 877877

ICE Online Detainee Locatorhttps://locator.ice.gov/odls/homePage.do

EOIR (Executive Office for Immigration Review) hotline for court case status: 800-898-7180


Nadine Heitz

Nadine Heitz is an immigration attorney in Lake Worth, Florida where she helps her clients obtain legal status in the United States. Book your consultation with her to find out how to solve your immigration issues and achieve your desired goals.