Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is a part of the United States Department of Homeland Security. ICE runs a nationwide enforcement initiative to identify, arrest, and remove undocumented immigrants with a prior order of removal, deportation, or exclusion. During these raids, ICE teams often encounter people without prior deportation orders and without criminal records. Yet. ICE has a right to arrest and deport these people, even though they have no deportation or removal order.
Under the U.S. Constitution all people are protected from unreasonable searches and seizures (Fourth Amendment) and self-incrimination (Fifth Amendment). This includes immigrants, regardless of whether they are legally present in the U.S. In their typical raid, through tactics of intimidation and threats, ICE agents frequently violate many immigrants’ constitutional rights, mentioned above. ICE, just like every other agency, does not have a right to enter a home or worksite unless they have a warrant. There are two different types of warrant: an arrest warrant and a search warrant. While ICE has the power to issue the former it may not issue the latter. Only a court can issue a search warrant. Another way ICE can enter your home or worksite is by consent. Hence, if an immigrant gives an officer permission to enter his home or workplace he cannot later complain of the entry. This consent cannot be forced by the officer; it must be given freely by the individual.
A search under a warrant is limited to certain areas of the house however, a search under consent is not limited, ICE officers can search where ever they want. For that reason exactly ICE will always prefer to get consent.
ICE will often try to get consent over a search warrant as with consent the officer has permission to search places that a judge will not allow in a warrant.
In order to avoid an ICE arrest in your home or workplace never let an immigration officer in before they can show you a search warrant. Have the officer slide the criminal warrant under your door. Carefully inspect the warrant. Was it signed by a judge? What does it allow the officer to do – arrest, inspect, or question people? Does it contain the right information on it (name address and signature)? If you believe they warrant is valid you must let the officers in; however, you should make sure they follow the warrant and do only what it permits them to do. If, however, the warrant is invalid (wrong information, no signature, etc.) the individual may return it to the officer and deny entry. If the warrant is an administrative warrant ICE would need your consent to enter the premises. In a case like this it is advisable to not give them permission and to not open the door. In a case where the officer indicates he has no warrant you must not open the door.
The primary difference between a criminal warrant issued by a federal court and an administrative removal warrant issued by an ICE official is that the latter does not authorize ICE to enter into a home or workplace to execute the warrant. The administrative warrant authorizes ICE to arrest an individual but not to enter his home or workplace unless the officer is given consent to do so.
When ICE knocks with an arrest warrant issued by ICE you have no other choice but to talk to the officer. It may be smart to walk outside and not allow entry so to protect anyone else who is inside.
Although you do not have the right to get a public defender like criminal detainees, you may still tell ICE you want to speak to an attorney and hire one.
Often ICE officers will try to take advantage of an individual’s lack of knowledge regarding immigration procedure and law and will give out some paperwork to sign. Do not sign anything without full knowledge of what you are signing. You might unknowingly agree to accept voluntary departure and can be deported immediately.