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When it comes to dealing with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers, it’s better to be prepared and know your rights. On this page, we will share with you important information so that you’re better prepared for a potential encounter with ICE.
What Is ICE?
Before we jump into the meat, what is ICE? The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is a federal agency in the United States that belongs to the Department of Homeland Security. ICE’s mission is to protect the United States from the cross-border crime and illegal immigration that threaten national security and public safety.
When Does the U.S. Government Detain Immigrants?
The U.S. government typically detains immigrants when they believe that he or she is a “flight risk”, meaning, they may move to another location within the U.S. Another reason is that ICE believes an immigrant poses a public safety threat. ICE uses detention to secure an immigrant’s appearance before an immigration court.
Some additional reasons an immigrant may be detained include:
- They committed a crime or have come in contact with law enforcement, the most common of which is for driving without a license
- They arrived at the border without a visa prior to formally applying for asylum
- They have an outstanding deportation order on record
- They missed a prior immigration hearing date
5 Things You Should Do When Dealing with ICE
Let’s discuss 5 things you should do when dealing with ICE.
1. Get Prepared Now
Before you are stopped, questioned, or detained by ICE, you should prepare. Here are some things you can do to prepare:
- Gather evidence of how long you’ve lived in the U.S.
- Make copies of your birth certificate, passport, marriage license, and documents for your children as well
- Gather evidence that you are a good person with good moral character. This can be very important if you speak to a judge to let you out of detention on bond. One way you can do this is to get letters of recommendation from employers, friends, neighbors, etc.
- Get certified copies of any criminal records you may have from every county you’ve lived in inside the United States
- Gather other evidence of your unique situation, such as proof of a medical condition or evidence that you are the only source of income for your family
- Gather documents that you have received from immigration officials or courts
Make sure to make extra copies of all these documents and put them in a safe place. You should also set a friend or family member that you will call immediately if you are detained by ICE. This person should either have a copy of your paperwork or know where it is, and be ready to help you when they receive your call.
2. Have an Emergency Plan for Family Members
If you are the only guardian of a child or children or the caretaker of an elderly loved one, you should make plans for their care in case you are detained. It is best to speak to a family lawyer concerning the specifics of this plan.
3. Know Your Rights
If you are stopped or detained, you need to know your rights. Even if you’re not a U.S. citizen:
- You have the right to remain silent. You should let the officer know that you are using your right to remain silent until your lawyer arrives.
- You have the right to say no if an office asks to search your body, unless they have your consent or probable cause.
- You have the right to not open your home door unless the office has a valid search warrant signed by a judge to enter. A deportation order is not the same thing as a warrant. Make sure you ask the officer to show you the warrant in a window or ask him or her to pass it under the door so that you can view it before opening your door.
4. Ask your ICE Officer for Your Alien or “A” Number if You Have Been Detained
If you’ve been detained, ask the officer for your unique nine-digit Alien number. This information is necessary for your loved one to speak with you and for an immigration lawyer to locate you in the Detainee Locator and thereafter represent you.
5. Do Not Sign Anything Before Letting Your Lawyer View It
Finally, do not sign any documents before letting your immigration attorney view them. This is especially important if the document is in a language you cannot understand and or if they have asked you to sign to accept a voluntary return to your home country. Even if you do decide you would prefer to return to your country rather than remaining detained and fighting your case in immigration court, it is important for an immigration attorney to ensure you are signing a document that will help you achieve the goals you have. Remember that ICE agents are not your “friends,” and it is common for them to attempt to convince you to sign documents that are not in your best legal interest.
What To Do if You Learn Your Loved One Has Been Detained By ICE
So what should you do if you find out your loved one has been detained by ICE? First things first, you can locate them by using ICE’s detainee locator website here. You can find them easiest if you already know their Alien (A #) number, but you can also try to find them with their date of birth. It may take some time for their information to appear if they were recently detained, and keep in mind that minors will not appear at all in this search.
Once you’ve located the immigrant, your next step is to call the detention center where they are being held. Ask the receptionist for help understanding how to add funds to their account so that the detainee can call you and their lawyer. If you are in the area and have valid immigration status, you can also ask about visitation hours for your loved one. (Please do not attempt to visit them if you do not have valid, non-expired immigration status, unless you want to join your loved one at the detention facility!) Most of the time, the officer will want the detainee’s alien number, but sometimes they are able to give you this number if you provide their date of birth and explain a close family relationship to them. Lastly, ask the receptionist who the Deportation Officer is for your loved one and their contact information. Your loved one’s attorney will need this information to help get them released if they qualify for bond or parole. Do not reveal anything else to the officer, such as the detainee’s immigration status or country of origin so that information can’t be used against them in immigration court.
Next, you need to call an experienced immigration attorney to get involved in their representation. It’s important to act as quickly as you can, as being detained by immigration can be a very traumatic experience for your loved one. Some individuals do not qualify for bond or release on parole, but it’s important to learn if your loved one does, and what are the chances for them to be released. After they are released from detention, you can form a plan for their immigration defense with much more time for a payment plan. On the other hand, if your loved one does not qualify for bond or release on parole, they will need to defend their entire immigration case while detained, and it’s more important than ever to make sure you help the lawyer form the best defense possible for your loved one to prevent their deportation and possibly even gain a green card instead.
Detained by ICE? Hire a Top Immigration Lawyer in Miami, Florida
Is your loved one detained by ICE? If you need help in your immigration case, you’ve come to the right place! Lawyers at Immigration Lawyers USA are top immigration lawyers in Miami, Florida and are able to help you navigate the complexities of being detained by ICE and your best options going forward. Give Immigration Lawyers USA a call at 305-501-0783 or contact us here to schedule your consultation.