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If you are an immigrant, it is important that you are prepared and know how to act if ICE agents show up at your door to avoid making mistakes. This is because the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement Service (ICE) is an agency of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in charge of enforcing the country’s immigration laws.

As the investigative arm of DHS, ICE is responsible for carrying out security, border control, immigration and customs activities. Therefore, an untimely encounter with ICE agents can become overwhelming. The latter usually has more impact when the immigrant does not have legal immigration status.

Knowing how to act and ensuring that you know your rights or those of your family is the purpose of this blog. Our immigration lawyers at Lluis Law in Los Angeles have successfully defended hundreds of aliens for more than 40 years. 


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How To Act If ICE Agents Show Up At Your Door

The United States Constitution provides certain rights to undocumented immigrants. Therefore, such rights must be respected, regardless of the circumstances.

Because of this, ICE immigration officers cannot enter your home unless they have a court order. It should be noted that there are two types of warrants: The arrest warrant (issued by ICE) and the search warrant (issued by a court).

Now, here is how to act against ICE agents show up at your door:

ice agents taking action
Photo courtesy by ICE
  1. When an officer knocks on your door, you are not required to open it. First, ask them to identify themselves while you hold the door closed. You can ask if they are coming alone or accompanied and which agency they belong to.
  2. The officers could respond that they come from ICE, the “Department of Homeland Security,” or be from the local police. Regardless of which agency they mention, don’t open the door. Keep the door closed and ask them if they have a court order. If they answer Yes, do not open the door either. Ask them to show you the order by sliding it under the door.
  3. Examine the order very carefully and look for your name, address and signature of the sender. This way you will know if the order is legal or not. The order is written in English so if you cannot understand it, please seek help or translate it yourself with the translator on your phone.
  4. If you have any doubts about the validity of the order, return it under the door and say that you think it is incorrect.
  5. If the order seems correct to you, look closely at who issues it, whether ICE or a court.

Tips To Remember When Dealing With ICE

  1. Ask those present if they are immigration agents and what the purpose of their visit is.
  2. Ask the officers for their badge or identification through the window or peephole.
  3. Ask about possession of a court order signed by a judge; If so, ask them to slide it under the door.
  4. Avoid lying or submitting false documents, and do not sign any document without first consulting an attorney.
  5. In the absence of a court order mentioning an individual in your residence and/or areas to be searched, keep the door closed and declare: “I do not consent to your entry.”
  6. In case of forced entry, avoid resisting and state: “I do not consent to your entry or search in this premises. I exercise my right to remain silent. I want to speak to a lawyer as soon as possible.”
  7. Please note that if you are under a search condition, the police may enter your home.
Los Angeles immigration court

In immigration proceedings, the U. S. does not provide a public defender as it does in criminal proceedings. For this reason, you will have to hire one and bear the costs of representation in the Immigration Court in Los Angeles . 

Do I Have To Open The Door To ICE?

If you are undocumented and ICE agents knock on your door, you do not have to open it immediately, nor do you have to talk to them. In fact, with the door closed, you can ask the ICE agents what they want or ask them for identification.

We remind you that if they do not have a judge’s order, they will not be able to enter your home.

It is also important to know that:

  • If the warrant was issued by an authorizing court, you must let the officer enter. Instead, the arrest warrant issued by ICE only gives the officer the right to arrest you.
  • Immigration agents cannot break into your home; you will have to decide whether to go out to meet them. They also cannot search your home, as they would need a search warrant.
  • By allowing the officers to enter your home, they will be able to question any other individuals inside your home. This is important to know, especially when there are other foreigners in the house with immigration problems. 
  • Once outside your home, the officer also has no right to enter, so close the door again. Also, you should not sign any documents and ask the officer you wish to call his attorney before you testify. 

If you do not want to, do not show any identification document that specifies your country of origin. Of course, you must make sure not to carry false documentation.

Some foreigners after being arrested may need immigration bail bonds. In some cases immigration attorneys recommend a resource called removal withholding.

How Do I Know When I Have To Open The Door To Immigration?

You should only let ICE agents in when they have a warrant signed by a judge. If ICE does not have one, you have the right to refuse to open the door. 

If they claim to have it, you can ask them to slide it under the door before making any decisions.

In the event that immigration agents enter your home because of the order, you can say out loud: “I advocate the Fifth Amendment and choose to remain silent.”

ice immigration police
Photo courtesy by ICE

How Do I Protect Myself If ICE agents show up at My door

The most important thing here is that you remain calm and keep the door to your house closed. Although opening the door does not mean that you are giving the immigration agents permission to enter, it is safest to communicate with them through it.

Additionally, generally the best way to protect yourself against immigration is to remember all your rights. These are:

  • You have the right to remain silent, even if the officer has a court order. 
  • It is not mandatory to allow police or immigration agents to enter your home unless they have the specific order. 
  • In the case of an arrest warrant, the police are authorized to enter the home as long as they believe the suspect is inside. 
  • However, a removal order (Form I-205) does not give agents the right to enter a home without the resident’s consent.

On some occasions, an officer may try to force entry into your home. This may be considered illegal. Make sure someone you trust always knows where you are, and can contact you in case of an emergency. 

Don’t forget to have the name and telephone number of a good immigration lawyer saved either. As a result, the faster the attorney acts, the fewer complications your case will have. Do not hesitate to call us if you have experienced a similar situation.

Can ICE Enter Private Property?

As said above, the house, office or any other private property is inviolable. Therefore, without the court order, ICE has no right to enter private property.

Can ICE Ask For Papers?

They can ask for them, but the individual is not required to show them. Basic constitutional rights can be exercised by legal and undocumented immigrants anywhere. 

Can An ICE Immigration Agent Show Up At My House?

Yes, an immigration agent can show up at your home, but they will not have the right to access it without your consent or a judge’s order.

What happens when ICE has a hold on you?

If you think ICE has you under control, don’t be alarmed, what happens is that they will hold you for a while (usually 48 hours). This allows ICE to take your custody, transfer you to an immigration facility, and evaluate your chances of being deported. Notably: 

  • An ICE hold does not necessarily mean that you will be immediately deported or detained. It is simply a measure by ICE to evaluate whether or not they will initiate deportation proceedings.
  • This retention is only a request from the immigration authorities to detain you, in case you are suspected of violating immigration laws. 
  • If you are deemed deportable, you will be held for another 48 hours. During this time, deportation proceedings will be initiated against you. 
cancellation of removal

If you are facing a removal order, do not despair, you may qualify for immigration relief. For example, cancellation of removal.

How To Act Against ICE If I Am A Naturalized Immigrant?

If you are a naturalized U.S. citizen, in theory, no immigration agent can detain you. However, it is advisable to prove your citizenship, but if you lack a document to do so, it is preferable to remain silent. Failure to present valid documents may result in arrest.

What To Do If I Am A U. S. Citizen By Birth?

If you are a U. S. citizen and an authority asks you to prove your citizenship, you have the right not to answer. There are many ways in which the Department of Homeland Security can verify your status.

To avoid confusion and violations of your rights, it is advisable to always have at least one identification document with you.

How To Act Against ICE If I Am A Lawful Permanent Resident?

Our immigration lawyers always recommend carrying the Green Card. This will make things easier when an ICE agent, police officer, or any other authority stops you. 

If you are a nonimmigrant, it is advisable to have Form I-94, entry/exit document, on hand. If you do not have one, you can also show an employment authorization (EAD) or state driver’s license.  

Now you know how to act against ICE, but for more information on the subject, do not hesitate to call our offices. Our immigration lawyers are specialists in deportations and know how to act before ICE in case their agents show up at your door and try to arrest you.


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