An immigration raid is an enforcement action conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). ICE officers in immigration raids are immigration law enforcement officers. They conduct these raids to either enforce an employer’s compliance with immigration laws, arrest an individual who is believed to be at the site, or conduct a search of the premise.
Below are guidelines on how employers and employees can prepare for an immigration raid at workplace. Though it contains legal issues, it is not a substitute for legal advice. Anyone seeking specific legal advice or assistance should retain an attorney.
Before the Raid
Since employer can be subjected to fines and criminal charges resulting from an immigration raid, employer should have a policy on how employees are to handle the situation where ICE officers walk into the business and seek to enter the premise. There should be a designated person, such as the owner or the general manager, to handle the matter. Your business is a private property, and ICE officers can only enter with a valid warrant OR your employee’s consent. Therefore, it is important that your employees do not allow or give consent to ICE officers to enter your business until it has been ascertained that the agents have a valid warrant.
A warrant is a document that gives law enforcement officers the permission to enter your property to conduct a search or make an arrest. A warrant must be signed by a judge, and it must contain the judge’s name, your name and address, the date and place to be searched, a description of the items being searched for or the person to be arrested, and the name of the agency that is conducting the search or arrest. A search warrant allows law enforcement officers to look for and take items identified in the warrant. It DOES NOT allow officers to arrest anyone. But if you run, the officers can arrest you if they can find justification for an arrest. An arrest warrant allows the officers to arrest the individual named in the warrant. It DOES NOT allow the officers to search the property. But then again, if you run, the officer may also arrest you. Not all warrants can be used to enter a property. Administrative warrants, such as a warrant of deportation, does not grant ICE officers with the authority to enter a premise.
If you find that the warrant is defective, i.e. it is not accurate or complete, you should tell the officers and also tell them that you do not consent to the search. If the officers decide to conduct the search nonetheless, should you not stop them or interfere with the search. You should tell them clearly that you do not consent to the search. You should call your lawyer as soon as possible. You should also record their names, badge numbers, and their agency. You should also take notes of the place they searched and what they took with them. If there are others around, ask them to stay and observe as witnesses.
It is important to tell all employees to stay calm and not to run. No employees should allow the officers to enter the property. The employee whom an ICE officer first talked to should ask the officers to step outside of the business. That employee should tell the officers that he/she does not have the authority to handle the situation and call the designated person immediately. The employee should keep the officers on the other side of the door until the designated person arrives. The employee should also not answer any questions, except to state his or her name. If the officer asks for other information, the employee should say again that he/she does not have the authority to handle the situation. Once the designated person arrives, the employee should excuse himself/herself and walk away.
During the Raid
All employees should stay calm and not to run. Regardless of your immigration status, you should not talk to or answer questions asked by the officers, except to state your name. Having a warrant does not mean you have to answer questions. Anything an employee says can be used against such person and others. It is a crime to lie to an officer, but it is not a crime to remain silent until you consult with a lawyer.
Remember that you have the right to remain silent. Some laws require you to state your name when asked, so state your name when asked. But otherwise, you do not have to answer questions about your citizenship, immigration status, or anything else. The law requires non-citizens who are 18 years old or older to carry immigration documents, such as permanent resident card (Green Card), I-94, or Employment Authorization Document (EAD Card) with them at all times. If the officers ask for your immigration document and you have it, you can show it to them. But if you tell the officer that you are not a U.S. citizen and you do not have the immigration documents to show, you could be arrested. You can tell the officer that you wish to speak to your lawyer. Do not show your passport or any document issued by foreign government. Do not falsely claim U.S. citizenship. Do not show fake documents or documents that do not belong to you. Do not answer any questions that you do not want to answer. If you have already answered some questions, you can still refuse to answer other questions. You can still tell the officers you wish to speak to your lawyer. Do not sign anything. You can tell the officers you wish to speak to your lawyer before signing the document.
If you run, the officers will assume that you are illegally present and they will most likely arrest you. You should either continue with your work or politely ask if you may leave. If the officer says you can leave, calmly walk away.
Remember that ICE agents will not tell you what your rights are. You have to assert them. Remember that anything that you say can be used against you to arrest you, detain you, and even deport you. If you do not know what to say, do not say anything or just tell the officer you want to speak to a lawyer.
After the Raid
Take notes of all the activities during the raid, including the places that were searched, the items officers took. Also record the name, badge numbers, and agency of the officers. If ICE officers take any items with them, ask for a receipt.
Write down all questions that ICE officers ask you, and if you chose to answer the questions, write down the answers you provided. Do this immediately so that your memory will be fresh.
If ICE arrest you, you should assert your rights by not answer any questions. Tell the officer you want to speak with your lawyer. Do not sign anything before speaking to a lawyer.
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