What should I do if ICE agents approach me on the street or in public?
When ICE agents arrest someone in public, it typically happens quickly. They may call your name out loud and ask you to confirm your name and then detain you.
•Before you say your name or anything else, ask, “AM I FREE TO GO?”
• If they say YES: Say, “I don’t want to answer your questions” or “I’d rather not speak with you right now.” Walk away.
• If they say NO: Use your right to remain silent! Say, “I want to use my right not to answer questions” and then “I want to speak to a lawyer.”
• If ICE starts to search inside your pockets or belongings, say, “I do not consent to a search.”
•DON’T LIE or show false documents. Don’t flee or resist arrest.
•Don’t answer questions about your immigration status or where you were born. They will use any information you provide against you. Do not hand over any foreign documents such as a passport, consular IDs, or expired visas.
• If you are in Criminal Court for a court date, ask to speak to your defender before they take you away.If officers come to my home, will I know they are from ICE? Not always! Beware: ICE agents often pretend to be police and say they want to talk to you about identity theft or an ongoing investigation.
Can ICE agents enter my home to arrest me?
If ICE agents do not have a warrant signed by a judge, they cannot enter the home without permission from an adult. Opening the door when they knock does not give them permission to enter your home.
So, what do I do if officers are at my door?
• Find out if they are from DHS or ICE.
•Try to stay calm. Be polite. Don’t lie. Say “I don’t want to talk to you right now.”
• Politely ask to see a warrant signed by a judge and to slip it under the door. If they don’t have one, decline to let them in.
• If they are looking for someone else, ask them to leave contact information. You don’t have to tell them
where to find the person and you should not lie.
What can I do if ICE is inside my home to make an arrest?
•Tell them if there are children or other vulnerable residents at home.
•Ask them to step outside unless they have a warrant signed by a judge.
• If they came inside without your permission, tell them “I do not consent to you being in my home. Please leave.”
• If they start to search rooms or items in your home, tell them “I do not consent to your search.”
• If ICE is arresting you, tell them if you have medical issues or need to arrange for childcare.
What are my rights if I am being arrested by ICE?
•You have the right to remain silent. You have the right to speak to a lawyer.
•DO NOT LIE. It can only hurt you in the future.
•You do NOT have to share any information about where you were born, what your immigration status is, or your criminal record. Ask to speak to a lawyer instead of answering questions.
•You do NOT have to give them your consular documents or passport unless they have a warrant from a
•You do not have to sign anything.
IF YOU HAVE A POLICE ENCOUNTER, YOU CAN PROTECT YOURSELF.
1. What you say to the police is always important. Everything you say can be used against you.
2. You have the right not to speak. To exercise this right, you should tell the police, “I would like to remain silent.”
3. You never have to consent to a search of yourself, your belongings, your car, or your house. In New York City, police are required by law to let you know when they’re asking for your consent to a search and to let you know that you have the right to say no. If you do consent to a search, it can affect your rights later in court. If the police say they have a search warrant, ask to see it. If they don’t, say “I do not consent to this search.” Police cannot arrest or ticket you simply for refusing to consent to a search. This may not stop the search from happening, but it will protect your rights if you have to go to court.
4. Do not interfere with or obstruct the police, you can be arrested for doing so.
IF YOU ARE STOPPED, QUESTIONED, AND/OR FRISKED:
1. Police may stop and briefly detain you only if there is reasonable suspicion that you committed, are committing, or are about to commit a crime.
2. You should ask if you are under arrest or free to leave.
3. In New York, you are not required to carry ID, and you don’t have to show ID to a police officer. If you are issued a summons or arrested, however, and you refuse to produce ID or tell officers who you are, the police may detain you until you can be positively identified.
4. In New York City, if officers are investigating criminal activity, they’re required to identify themselves and let you know the reason for the interaction. If they don’t arrest or ticket you, officers are required to give you a business card at the end of the encounter. Regardless of the circumstances, unless an officer is responding to an emergency situation, local law requires any officer to provide their identification and a business card upon request.
5. Don’t bad-mouth a police officer or run away, even if you believe what is happening is unreasonable. That could lead to your arrest.
IF YOU ARE STOPPED IN YOUR CAR:
1. Upon request, show the police your driver’s license, registration, and proof of insurance. In certain cases, your car can be searched without a warrant. To protect yourself later, you should state that you do not consent to a search.
2. If you’re suspected of drunk driving, you will be asked to take a breath-alcohol and coordination test. If you fail the tests, or if you refuse to take them, you will be arrested, your driver’s license may be suspended, and your car may be taken away.
3. If you are arrested, your car will be subject to a search.
IF POLICE COME TO YOUR HOME:
1. The police can enter your home without your permission if they have a warrant or if it is an emergency. If the police say they have a warrant, ask to see it. Check to make sure the warrant has the correct address.
2. If you are arrested in your home or office, the police can search you and the area immediately surrounding you or where evidence of criminal activity is in plain view.
IF YOU ARE ARRESTED OR TAKEN TO A POLICE STATION:
1. You have the right to remain silent and the right to talk to a lawyer before you talk to the police. Don’t tell the police anything except your name and address. Don’t give any explanations, excuses, or stories. You can make your defense later, in court, based on what you and your lawyer decide is best.
2. If you have a lawyer, ask to see your lawyer immediately. If you can’t afford a lawyer, you have the right to a free one once your case goes to court. You can ask the police how to contact a lawyer. Don’t say anything to police without speaking to a lawyer first.
3. Within a reasonable time after your arrest or booking, you should ask the police to contact a family member or friend. If you are permitted to make a phone call, anything you say at the precinct may be recorded or listened to. Never talk about the facts of your case over the telephone.
4. Do not make any decisions in your case or sign any statements until you have talked with a lawyer.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU’RE STOPPED BY THE POLICE
• Stay calm and in control of your words, body language, and emotions.
• Don’t get into an argument with the police.
• Never bad-mouth a police officer.
• Remember that anything you say or do can be used against you.
• Keep your hands where the police can see them.
• Don’t run.
• Don’t touch any police officer.
• Don’t resist, even if you believe you are innocent.
• If you complain at the scene or tell the police they’re wrong, do so in a non-confrontational way that will not escalate the situation.
• Do not make any statements regarding the incident.
• If you are arrested, ask for a lawyer immediately.
• Remember officers’ badge numbers, patrol car numbers, and physical descriptions.
• Write down everything you remember as soon as possible.
• Try to find witnesses and their names and phone numbers.
• If you are injured, take photos of the injuries as soon as possible, but make sure you get medical attention first. Ask for copies of your medical treatment files.
*Anthony Beckford is the President of the Brooklyn Chapter of Copwatch Patrol Unit, as well as the City Council Candidate for the 45th District.