Recently under the Trump Administration, more and more undocumented people have become detained if not deported, sending fears across the country. You may be one of many undocumented individuals who has not encountered immigration officers but may be worried about your safety, even in your own home. Although you may not be able to predict when an immigration officer might show up at your home, it is important to be aware of your rights early on so that you know what to do in such an event:
- Make sure the immigration officer has a warrant -- Speaking with immigration officers can be an intimidating experience, especially when they show up unannounced at your own home. No matter how scary it may be, know that you do not have to let officers into your home if they do not have a document that warrants them to come inside. Talk to them through your door, but do not open the door. Ask them to identify themselves, and ask if they have a warrant. If you do, ask them to slide it under the door for you to see.
- Check to see who issued the warrant -- If they slide the warrant under the door, review it to make sure it comes from the U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE). You should also check to see if the orders on the warrant are issued by a court. Only the court can order a search warrant that will give the officer permission to enter your house. If the warrant does not issue a search of your house but states that you are under arrest, you still do not have to let the officer in. You can instead step outside to speak with him or her. Remember not to let the officer into your house without a search warrant as it could give him or her the opportunity to question any other undocumented individuals in your home.
- Do not be quick to provide information -- If you are under arrest and have stepped outside your house to speak with the officer, make sure that you do not answer any questions immediately. Do not be quick to sign papers or hand over any of your identification documents. Let the officer know that you would like to speak to a lawyer first before you can confirm anything he or she asks you. An immigration attorney can help you plan your next steps strategically.
While no one wants ICE to come knocking at their door, it is important to be prepared ahead of time. To help protect yourself, make sure that you let a trusted friend or neighbor know about your status so that he or she may be able to help you if you ever get arrested unexpectedly. Make sure that everyone in your home also has the contact information of your trusted friend so that they can contact him or her if you become detained. Consider reaching out to an immigration attorney to learn about how you can protect your rights as much as possible ahead of time.