What to Do if You Are Confronted by ICE
Nov. 1, 2023
ICE—the abbreviation for a powerful federal government agency known as Immigration and Customs Enforcement—is the arm of the law that seeks out undocumented immigrants for possible removal (deportation) proceedings. Though ICE is powerful, it is not above the law. If you are in the country without a visa, or you’ve outstayed the visa you have, you may fear that ICE may come to take you away.
That nightmare scenario doesn’t really occur in daily life. ICE must follow the laws of the land as embedded in the Constitution and federal statutes, and their agents have no power to deport you on their own. You must be allowed a hearing before an immigration judge before any removal order can be issued, and there are steps you can take in between to protect yourself and your rights.
If you are an immigrant in or around Woburn, Massachusetts, who is here without a visa (“undocumented”), or who has overstayed your visa—or if ICE has actually begun removal proceedings against you—you have to remember that you have options. Contact us at Cobaci Law, P.C. to review these options. We are experienced and compassionate immigration attorneys who will help you with any concern you have or issue you face. We proudly serve clients throughout Woburn, Boston, Framingham, Marlborough, and the rest of the state.
Understanding ICE Procedures
Let’s set the record straight: ICE must obtain a warrant from a judge to enter your home. Sometimes, ICE agents will pretend to be police to try to get you to let them in without a warrant, or they may even “fake” a warrant, one that is signed by an ICE official. Such a warrant is not legal.
The first few things to remember, then, include the following: do no open the door when someone knocks on it. Ask them to announce themselves. If they say ICE, ask them to show you their warrant. Have them slip it under the door or through a mail slot. Check it carefully to see if it has been signed by a judge.
If they announce themselves as police, ask from which department they came. If you have a viewer on your door, have them show their badges. Or ask them to move over to a window through which you can view their uniforms and badges.
If they do have a legitimate warrant, or if they force their way in, don’t resist—but don’t answer any questions. You have rights under the U.S. Constitution to remain silent. Also, do not lie by trying to say you are a U.S. citizen. That will just compound the problems you will face going forward.
Try to record everything that’s happening, either by writing it down as per your recollection when you get a chance or recording it on your cellphone. If possible, take pictures or videos of what’s going on, especially in the case of a forced entry. Remember, throughout what’s going on—from the first knock on the door—you can request to have an interpreter present.
Remember, also, that once you leave your home and you’re out in public, the ICE can arrest you without a warrant. It’s important to contact an immigration attorney immediately upon a visit by ICE.
If You Are Arrested by ICE
If ICE agents do arrest you, remember that you do not have to answer questions and you can have an attorney present during any interrogations. This is guaranteed by the 5th, 6th, and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. You should be granted one “free” phone call. Use this to call a trusted friend or family member who can seek legal help for you.
Do not sign any papers. What you sign might be an agreement to be deported without a hearing. Your best course of action is to have an immigration attorney representing you and at your side when questioning occurs and document signing requested. There are defenses to deportation, and an attorney can help you exercise your rights and pursue legal opportunities to remain in the United States with your family and loved ones.
Strong and Reliable Legal Representation
At Corbaci Law, P.C. immigration is our sole focus, and we strive to help you in every situation you face, including an ICE arrest or removal hearing. Over the years, we have helped countless others like you exercise their rights and fight to stay here in the U.S. We can help you, too. If you are in Boston, Framingham, Marlborough, Woburn, or anywhere in Massachusetts, reach out to us today.