Deportation is a constant threat in this current climate, hanging over not just individuals but their family, friends and other loved ones. An arrest by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is not just disruptive. It is emotionally challenging, requiring time, energy and perseverance to get through.
Considering these realities, it is important to be prepared in the event ICE agents arrest you, a family member, a close friend or trusted colleague.
Establish a plan now
An arrest followed by threat of deportation can feel chaotic. There won’t be much time to consider the options and form a plan, which is why it is important to establish one beforehand.
If you are at risk, talk to your family and loved ones. Let them know what to do should immigration enforcement agents arrest you – that includes who to call, which attorney to reach out to, where important documents are located and even how to access vital electronic accounts.
If you are a friend or loved one worried about someone being arrested, ask them if they have a plan and how you may be able to help.
Remain silent, do not consent
Law enforcement agents cannot legally search your property or belongings without either probable cause or a warrant. If law enforcement comes to your home, speak to them through a closed door. Ask whoever is there to identify themselves, and if they request to come inside, say you do not consent. If they claim to have a warrant, ask them to put it under the door or through the mail slot so you can see it.
Never lie or provide fake documents. If law enforcement asks if someone is home, simply tell them to leave contact information.
If you’re arrested, tell the officer you want to exercise your right to remain silent and ask to speak to an attorney immediately. While in custody you may only get one call. Follow the plan you established, and call your lawyer or a trusted loved one. Tell them where you’re being held, your case number and the name the officer recorded.
Locating someone who has been arrested
If an adult you know has been arrested by ICE, it is possible to look them up on the agency’s website. You can search by A-Number and country of birth, or by inputting their first and last name as well as country of birth. To locate children under the age of 18, you must call ICE.
From there, you may be able to arrange a visit at the detention facility.
Defense against deportation
There are ways to fight deportation. An attorney may be able to help challenge the charges, work toward a cancellation of the removal, or use another tool – such as a U visa, asylum, or a status change. In addition, someone who is arrested should not sign anything offered by immigration officials without consulting a lawyer to help ensure the consequences are clear.
Ideally this is a situation you never have to deal with. But if it does happen there are ways to fight back. Knowing what to expect beforehand, and how to respond, can help make the process less daunting.