Regardless of your immigration status, you have guaranteed rights under the Constitution. Learn more here about your rights as an immigrant, and how to express them.


What Happens if Immigration Officers Come to My Home?

Do not open the door for immigration officers (ICE agents)

  • Immigration officers generally must have a warrant signed by a federal judge or magistrate in order to enter your home.
  • Ask the officer to slip the warrant under the door or show it to you through a window.
  • The warrant must name a person in your residence and/or areas to be searched at your address, and it should be signed by a judge, not a government employee. If these requirements are not met, the warrant is not valid, and you are not required to open the door.
  • A warrant for removal/deportation (Form I-205) does not allow officers to enter a home without consent.
  • If Immigration officers enter without a valid warrant, say that you do not consent to the search and assert your right to remain silent.
  • Ask for an interpreter if you need one.

If ICE has a valid warrant:

  • If you live with other undocumented folks who are not named in the warrant, it is best to quickly exit the premises and close the door behind you. This may help protect other members of your household from being questioned or detained by ICE.

What Happens if Immigration Officers Come to My Workplace?

  • Immigration officers must have permission from the owner or manager to conduct a raid on a workplace (factory, store, farm, orchard, etc.)
  • If the officers do not have permission, they must have a warrant signed by a federal judge or magistrate

What Happens if I’m Stopped by Immigration Officials?

  • Generally, you should not show any immigration-related paperwork and you should assert your right to remain silent.
    • ICE generally has no way to establish that a person is deportable except by being presented with a document showing unlawful presence or by a person’s own statements.
    • Unless you have valid, unexpired lawful status, DO NOT show immigration-related paperwork or answer questions about where you were born, your country of origin or how you entered the United States. Provide your name and address, if asked, and then assert your right to remain silent.
    • Failure to carry and provide immigration paperwork is a misdemeanor offense, associated with a fine and potential prison time. However, it is historically rarely charged.
  • If you are stopped near the border or at the United States airport: You may have to answer certain questions depending on your citizenship status. More information is available here.
  • Otherwise, you should follow our advice about police stops generally, which is available here.

What Happens if I’m Undocumented and Arrested? – Arrested for an Immigration Violation

  • Always ask for an interpreter if you need one.
  • You have the right to an attorney, but the government does not need to provide one for you. If you are detained by ICE, you can and should ask for a list of free or low-cost attorneys. If you have an upcoming proceeding before a court, ask the court to postpone the hearing to give you more time to find a lawyer.
  • If you are held in a detention facility after being arrested: ask for a bond hearing before an immigration judge.
  • If arrested and challenging a deportation order: you have the right to a hearing to challenge a deportation order, unless you waived this right (by signing a “Stipulated Removal Order” or accepting a “voluntary departure”).
  • If you fear persecution or torture in your home country: tell an officer and contact a lawyer immediately. You have additional rights if you have this fear.

What Happens if I’m Undocumented and Arrested? Arrested for a crime unrelated to immigration violations

  • If detained and set for arraignment: D.C. Pretrial Services Agency or Court Social Services will interview you. The interview is voluntary but not confidential. It’s OK to participate, but don’t talk about the incident and arrest, or any unlawful activity. If you are not a citizen, you should consider whether to refuse to answer questions about your immigration status or country of origin or refuse the interview altogether until you can speak with a lawyer. However, understand that if you refuse to participate entirely, the judge may hold you in custody longer.
  • If you are undocumented or deportable, it is possible that you will be transferred into ICE custody and held in a detention facility after you are released by the judge or even if your case is no papered.

Challenging Misconduct by Immigration Officers

  • To protect your safety and avoid unnecessary arrests, it is important that you do not fight or resist even if your rights are being violated.
  • You should still calmly assert your rights (that you do not consent to the search, wish to remain silent, and wish to speak to an attorney), but do not put yourself in a dangerous position.
  • After the incident, you can file a complaint with the Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (email CRCLCompliance@HQ.DHS.GOV) or visit
  • You also can contact the ACLU-DC or another legal organization.

Useful Resources

Locate an individual detained by ICE at

More information on immigrants’ rights is available at the ACLU’s immigrants’ rights page, available here.