Dealing with ICE: Rights under US immigration law

Any encounter — even one that seems to go well — with Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents can be extremely distressing for immigrants in Louisiana. Some ICE agents may try and act as if they have the authority to engage in a wide range of behaviors, even those that are not necessarily in line with U.S. immigration law. It is important for people to understand their rights when dealing with these government representatives.

Without a search warrant, agents may not enter a person’s home. Agents also cannot arrest a person without a warrant unless there is evidence that he or she has committed a crime. Some people might confuse administration warrants — which are signed by immigration judges — with search warrants. An administration warrant does not give an agent the ability to arrest a person or enter his or her home without permission, so an individual who is facing ICE agents should be sure to clarify what type of warrant is being used.

Although more recent ICE activities are focused on removing undocumented immigrants from the country, documented immigrants and even citizens are dealing with problems from this agency. In 2018, ICE interviewed and screened 27,540 naturalized or native-born citizens. In 2018, ICE detained a Marine veteran for three days because, despite being born in the U.S., agents did not believe that he belonged in the country.

Current ICE actions are supposed to target only immigrants who already have orders for removal, which might make documented immigrants in Louisiana feel safer. Unfortunately, documented immigrants and even naturalized and native-born citizens can easily be confronted by ICE. Understanding a person’s rights according to U.S. immigration law can be helpful for securing the most positive outcome possible from these encounters.