With the current political climate, it’s become increasingly common for authorities to question one’s immigration status. It happens to more people than you realize, whether you’re a visitor to the country, a green card holder, or even a legal U.S. immigrant. While ICE, or Immigrations and Custom Enforcement, agents have every right to question your status, you also have rights of your own— if you happen to be questioned or detained by the U.S. government agency.
When it comes to interacting with ICE agents, the sad truth is that many people are not aware of their rights. Knowing them, however, could prevent the worst case scenario from occurring, such as being held in custody for a period of time. Being that immigration is one of our specialities, Bush Law Firm is here with 5 tips to take into consideration if ICE begins to question your immigration status.
Always remain calm and collected.
We understand that nothing is more earthshaking than having your U.S. citizenship questioned by government officials. However, a high-pressure situation, such as this, does not warrant rude or aggressive behavior. Try to keep calm and remain courteous to the ICE agents during your interaction. Above all else, do not attempt to run away or resist detainment —if the situation comes to this, of course.
Exercise your right to remain silent.
You’ve seen people in various movies and TV shows have their rights read to them during an arrest. One of them is the right to remain silent. Sometimes, it can hurt your case to succumb to law enforcement's poking and prodding. Instead, exercise your right to remain silent if questioned about your citizenship status. Believe it or not, you’re not legally obligated to answer ICE’s questions— just remain polite throughout the interaction, whether you choose to speak up or not.
Do not lie about your citizenship status.
Lying about your citizenship is potentially the worst misstep you could take when discussing your immigration status with ICE agents. While it’s never good to tell a lie in the first place, it can be very detrimental in this scenario, especially to a government official. If you’re asked for your immigration papers, it’s best to avoid any type of escalation by showing the documents requested if you have them on hand.
Speaking of documents, do not sign any.
Many times, ICE agents will try to coerce you into signing documents, such as a voluntary departure or stipulated removal paperwork. It may sound a bit harsh, but do not believe what the agents say to convince you to do this. You must refuse to sign any documentation without speaking to your lawyer or an experienced attorney first. By signing such documents, you could unknowingly put yourself in the position to be deported without a hearing.
Contact your consulate or lawyer.
If you’re unable to solve the issue on your own, you should contact your consulate or request that the ICE agents do so to notify them of your potential arrest. It’s your consulate’s job to protect you. You also have the right to have an attorney present. In fact, the legal professionals at Bush Law Firm recommend that you have an attorney with you before answering any questions whatsoever. Unlike criminal cases, you will not be provided with a public defender, so lining up your own legal counsel is the smartest decision you can make.
If you or someone you know has been confronted by ICE, it’s important to know your rights. While you can easily call the ICE hotline at (866) 347-2423, it helps to have a solid support system in your corner. If you feel like this is an issue that cannot be solved without the expertise of a seasoned attorney, don’t hesitate to contact Bush Law Firm. We’re well versed in immigration law, having successfully defended clients facing immigration issues throughout the course of our firm’s history.