What should you and your family do if ICE officers (immigration agents) raid your home? It is best to think through ahead of time how you and your family will behave and what you will do.

If someone is banging on your door saying they are police, do not immediately open the door.  ICE officers often arrive very early in the morning, to catch people when they are still asleep and have not yet gotten up or gone to work. Look at the time. If it is very early in the morning, say 5:00 or 5:30 a.m., this is a factor in showing that the search was unreasonable.  The first questions you will ask are, who are they and do they have a warrant? Ask if they have a warrant. Ask them to show you the warrant, and you should read it to find out what or whom they are looking for. If they do not have a warrant, do not open the door.

If you do open the door, do not let them in immediately. ICE officers often pretend to be local police. That is one of their strategies to get immigrants to let them into their homes. Ask for identification, a badge or a business card. Find out which agency they are from and their names.

Always be very polite and respectful, even while asserting your rights. Do not yell, scream or curse. You must calmly and politely assert your rights. You can say, “I’m sorry, but because you do not have a warrant I am not opening the door” in a calm and firm manner. Or, “I have an attorney, and I am not going to answer your questions without my attorney present”. These may be said in an even tone without screaming or using insults.

If you open the door simply to verify the officers ID and to see a warrant, but the group of officers barges past you into your home, you should say “I do not consent to your entering my apartment. I do not consent to your search of my apartment”, for example. You should repeat that you do not consent should they search your computers and other electronic devices. You should make clear your lack of consent, and that you are asserting your 4th Amendment right against unreasonable searches and seizures.

Can you film what is happening? Plan ahead, where is your cell phone during the night so you can grab it and start recording should ICE show up at your door step early in the morning. Footage from cell phone videos has been very important recently in showing police abuse of African-Americans and other minorities.

You have the right to remain silent and not answer their questions. You should tell the officers you are refusing to answer their questions. However, if you do decide to answer their questions, make sure that everything you say is 100 per cent truthful. Lying to a federal agent may have very severe consequences. Remember, everything you say may later be used against you. If you admit you were born in another country, that is an admission of alienage, and can be used to sustain deportability. The other option is, if after you have answered some initial biographic questions, the officers continue questioning you, you may then state that you will not answer any more of their questions and you want to talk to a lawyer. So, you can assert your right to remain silent even after you have answered some questions, to stop the questioning.

While you have a right to keep quiet and refuse to answer questions, you must obediently follow physical commands, such as “Put your hands up”, “Drop what you are holding” or “Lie down on the floor”. Move your body slowly, so as not to appear threatening. The exception to this is, do not let them in your house if they do not have a warrant. But once ICE officers are inside, you must follow their physical commands. However, as stated above, you can still refuse to answer questions and ask for an attorney.

Finally, keep breathing. Focus on slowing down your breath and breathing deeply. This will calm you and help you to concentrate. Try to remember as much of the event as possible and memorialize it in writing soon afterwards. You should retain an attorney soon afterwards.