Immigrant Defense Project Releases “Know Your Rights With ICE”

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New York, N.Y. The Immigrant Defense Project (IDP) has been monitoring Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrests in our communities. If you wish to report a raid within New York City, call IDP at 212-725-6422 If you want to report a raid outside of N.Y.C., contact United We Dream (UWD) at 1-844-363-1423.


Who is at risk of being arrested by ICE?

The law allows the federal government to deport certain immigrants, including:

  • Anyone without lawful immigration status; and
  • People with status (e.g., lawful permanent residents, refugees and visa holders) who have certain criminal convictions.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Officers arrested 271 criminal aliens last week in an enforcement action targeting individuals who pose a threat to public safety and immigration violations. ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) officers made the arrests across the state of Florida, Puerto Rico and the U. S. Virgin Islands.

The people the Trump Administration announced ICE will initially focus on deporting include:

  • People with pending criminal cases and/or prior criminal convictions;
  • People with final orders of removal;
  • People who have committed fraud or misrepresentation in applications to the government; and
  • People they believe pose a threat to public safety or national security.


People with legal status and prior convictions

Be aware: You may be a target even if:

  • Your conviction is from years ago;
  • You didn’t serve time in jail;
  • Your case was minor or a misdemeanor;
  • You’ve been an LPR for a long time; and/or
  • All the other members of your family are U.S. citizens.


What are some of the ways ICE may know about me?

If you have been arrested and the police took your fingerprints; sent an application to immigration or been arrested by immigration in the past; have a pending criminal case or if you are on probation or parole.


Are ICE agents approaching anyone they think they can deport?

ICE agents usually identify the person they want to arrest ahead of time. Then, they go to homes, courthouses, shelters and even workplaces to look for that person. Increasingly, they are waiting on the street to make the arrest.

If I know I’m at risk, what can I do?

  • Make a plan with your loved ones in case you are picked up by ICE!
  • Talk to a lawyer before you apply to change your immigration status, renew your green card, or travel outside of the United States!


What should I do if ICE agents approach me on the street or in public?

When ICE agents arrest someone in public, it typically happens quickly. They may call your name out loud and ask you to confirm your name and then detain you.

  • Before you say your name or anything else, ask, “AM I FREE TO GO?”
  • If they say YES: Say, “I don’t want to answer your questions” or “I’d rather not speak with you right now.” Walk away.
  • If they say NO: Use your right to remain silent! Say, “I want to use my right not to answer questions” and then “I want to speak to a lawyer.”
  • If ICE starts to search inside your pockets or belongings, say, “I do not consent to a search.”
  • DON’T LIE or show false documents. Don’t flee or resist arrest.
  • Don’t answer questions about your immigration status or where you were born. They will use any information you provide against you. Do not hand over any foreign documents such as a passport, consular IDs, or expired visas.
  • If you are in Criminal Court for a court date, ask to speak to your defender before they take you away.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director John Morton will announce the results of a major operation to identify and rescue sexually exploited children. Maryland State Police Superintendent Colonel Marcus Brown will highlight the relationship ICE's Homeland Security Investigation's (HSI) has with state and local law enforcement under Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) task forces around the country. National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) CEO John Ryan will discuss its partnership with HSI and ICACs to identify and rescue victims of child sexual exploitation around the world.

If officers come to my home, will I know they are from ICE?

Not always! Beware: ICE agents often pretend to be police and say they want to talk to you about identity theft or an ongoing investigation.

Can ICE agents enter my home to arrest me?

If ICE agents do not have a warrant signed by a judge, they cannot enter the home without permission from an adult. Opening the door when they knock does not give them permission to enter your home.


So, what do I do if officers are at my door?

  • Find out if they are from DHS or ICE;
  • Try to stay calm. Be polite. Don’t lie. Say “I don’t want to talk to you right now;”
  • Politely ask to see a warrant signed by a judge and to slip it under the door. If they don’t have one, decline to let them in; and
  • If they are looking for someone else, ask them to leave contact information. You don’t have to tell them where to find the person and you should not lie.

What can I do if ICE is inside my home to make an arrest?

  • Tell them if there are children or other vulnerable residents at home;
  • Ask them to step outside unless they have a warrant signed by a judge;
  • If they came inside without your permission, tell them “I do not consent to you being in my home. Please leave;”
  • If they start to search rooms or items in your home, tell them “I do not consent to your search;” and
  • If ICE is arresting you, tell them if you have medical issues or need to arrange for childcare.

What are my rights if I am being arrested by ICE?

  • You have the right to remain silent. You have the right to speak to a lawyer;
  • DO NOT LIE. It can only hurt you in the future;
  • You do NOT have to share any information about where you were born, what your immigration status is, or your criminal record. Ask to speak to a lawyer instead of answering questions;
  • You do NOT have to give them your consular documents or passport unless they have a warrant from a judge; and
  • You do not have to sign anything.


Knowing which rights you have and exercising them is complicated.


For more information on ICE community arrests, please see IDP’s longer booklet at or contact

Note: Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is one of the federal government agencies responsible for deporting people. ICE is part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

These materials are provided for informational purposes and do not constitute legal advice. Images & Content © IDP 2018, Written by IDP with the legal support of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR). Updated in January 2018.

For more info on ICE tactics and your rights, please see IDP’s longer booklet at

The Immigrant Defense Project (IDP) was founded 20 years ago to combat an emerging human rights crisis: the criminalization of immigrants targeted for mass incarceration and exile. As the ICE deportation complex has exploded, we have continued to confront this crisis head on by developing deep expertise and interventions at the intersection of the criminal legal and immigration systems.

For more on IDP’s plans for the coming year and the need to donate at this crucial time, please read our letter here.

Your support is more critical than ever as we scale up to fight back against hate and racism. Rooted in the principle that no one is disposable, IDP is uniquely positioned to fortify the frontline struggle through community defense, policy reform, legal support and training, impact litigation, and communications and advocacy to challenge the vilification of immigrants with criminal convictions.

Consider becoming an IDP sustainer. Monthly donations, whether $25 or $200, provide us with a consistent and reliable source of funding to help us protect our victories and fight back against the demonization of immigrants.

To donate, click here. To contribute by check, please make it payable to “Fund for the City of NY – IDP” and mail to:

Immigrant Defense Project
40 West 39th St., Fifth Floor
New York NY 10018

IDP is fiscally sponsored by the Fund for the City of New York, a 501(c)(3). Your gift is tax deductible. If you are part of a matching program, our Federal Tax ID# is: 13-2612524.

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The Stewardship Report on Connecting Goodness is the communications platform of The James Jay Dudley Luce Foundation ( There are now more than 100 contributors around the world to this publication.

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