ICE and Your Rights – What You Need to Know
Since the release of President Trump’s executive order last month, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) has dramatically increased detainment and arrests of undocumented immigrants throughout the country. Central Texas in particular has seen an increase; the Mexican Consulate in Austin confirmed that 30 Mexican immigrants were detained by ICE on February 10th and 14 were detained the day prior, when typically only a few are detained each day.
While lawsuits regarding the constitutionality of the executive order continue, and lawmakers debate how to move forward, it is critically important that all immigrants know your rights and understand what to do if confronted by ICE agents. Here are some important steps immigrants can take to protect yourself and your loved ones:
- If ICE agents come to your residence, do not immediately open the door. Ask them why they are there, and if they do not speak your language, request that they return with an interpreter so you can fully understand the conversation.
- Ask the agents if they have a warrant. If no, you are within your rights to refuse to open the door. Tell them “I do not consent to your entry.” If yes, ask them to slip the warrant under the door. Look at the top and at the signature line to see if it was issued by a court and signed by a judge. Only a court/judge warrant is enough for entry into your premises – an administrative warrant from immigration authorities is not.
- If the warrant names a person at your residence/address, do open the door but do not answer their questions. Tell them you wish to exercise your right to remain silent and that you want to speak with a lawyer as soon as possible. Do not lie, show false documents, or sign any paperwork. Remain silent and wait to speak with a lawyer. Document as much as you can about the incident and share the details with your lawyer.
Knowing your rights and standing up for them – in a peaceful and respectful manner – is the best course of action both now, and always. My offices are here to assist you in any way we can; please reach us at (512) 476-9950 in Austin and (956) 723-6121 in Laredo.