ICE Raids of US Work sites – Why? What can you do if ICE comes for you at work?
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has stepped up their activities against undocumented aliens. Recently, in the news, they have conducted raids in worksites in Ohio and Mississippi. In Mississippi, it was reported that they had made arrests of about 680 individuals, but they have also released about 300 of those individuals. Those released were fitted with GPS ankle monitors.
While ICE may have the power to conduct these raids, their enthusiasm for conducting raids often also results in the arrest of aliens who have a right to stay and work in the US. The purpose of the raids has been stated publicly by ICE officials, but some say that how ICE agents implement the raids often results in a violation of fundamental human rights.
What is an ICE raid?
An ICE “raid” is when ICE agents or groups of ICE agents come to a worksite or office of an employer without warning in order to investigate the employer or the employees working there. This is different from an ICE audit when ICE officers give the employer a Notice of Inspection and gives the employer three (3) days to produce the documents requested by ICE.
A raid is a sudden and unannounced physical inspection of the worksite, the premises and the documents and records kept in a worksite. A raid in aid of investigation is a fishing expedition for evidence to use against an employer or aliens employed by the employer. Fishing expeditions are not allowed.
When ICE agents come into your worksite without a warrant of arrest or a search warrant, employers and their employees (especially those in the frontline such as reception desk) can refuse the ICE agents entry into the premises.
The difficulty faced by employers and front-line employees is that ICE officers often wear vests that say “Police” or “federal agent” on them. Sometimes, police officers in the locality accompany the ICE agents in these raids. When this occur, employers are still within their rights to deny the police officers and the ICE officers entry into the workplace if they cannot produce a warrant of arrest or a search warrant.
The ICE raids in Ohio in July 2019 and in Mississippi in August 2019 were different. They were not conducted for the purposes of investigation. ICE officials and even President Donald Trump has stated that ICE raided worksites to search for a specific purpose.
ICE raids worksites to find and arrest overstaying and undocumented aliens
These are aliens who entered the US on tourist or student visas but they are working without authorization or their visas and work authorization have expired but they have not applied for an extension or a renewal of their visas or their work authorization. Undocumented aliens are those who crossed the US border without a visa, without having been inspected and without having been admitted into the US – they may have a passport but there is no stamp that they entered the US legally.
ICE raids worksites to find criminal aliens
Criminal aliens are those non-US citizens who may have valid US visas or are legal permanent residents but they have committed crimes for which they can be removed or deported from the US. These may be people against whom there are outstanding warrants of arrest or against whom there are ICE orders to appear for removal hearing.
ICE raids worksites to find aliens who have received deportation notices
ICE is looking for non-US citizens who have been released on immigration bond, but whose deportation or removal proceedings have been finally decided against them and a deportation or removal order has been issued against them.
ICE raids worksites to find aliens who fail to appear for their deportation hearing
Other non-US citizens who are facing deportation charges have filed an immigration bond are given their temporary liberty while deportation or removal proceedings are pending against them. However, they are in violation of their immigration bond because they failed to attend their deportation hearing.
In these instances, when ICE agents appear in the workplace to enforce a warrant of arrest, they must be able to show a warrant of arrest with the name of the persons they will arrest. They cannot simply arrest all other aliens or alien-looking persons in the workplace if their names do not appear on the warrants of arrest produced by the ICE agents.
The most publicized aspect of the ICE raids is how parents are taken into custody and are separated from their minor children who often are left in their homes without adult supervision, or these children are taken into custody but separated from their parents.
However, there are other instances when civil and political rights of aliens are violated:
ICE agents often use unnecessary force to place aliens under arrest. They often ask aliens questions regarding their citizenship status, forcing the aliens to give statements that are later used as evidence against them in court.
ICE agents do not always allow aliens to speak with their lawyers or their family after they request to do so. They do not always provide interpreters even when the aliens do not speak English well enough to understand the proceedings or their rights under those proceedings.
Some ICE agents enter aliens’ homes and conduct searches and seizures even without a proper warrant issued by a court. They gain access into aliens’ homes, armed only with an order signed by an ICE officer and they search and seize evidence that are later used against the aliens.
Despite aliens stating that they do not understand the proceedings, some ICE agents make arrested aliens sign statements, waivers or other documents that are later used as evidence against the aliens. Some ICE agents interrogate or ask aliens to answer questions regarding the citizenship or work eligibility of other aliens, promising their release from detention in exchange for their cooperation.
ICE agents cannot enter homes or residences and conduct searches or seizures of properties belonging to aliens if they have no search warrants or warrants of arrest issued by a judge of a court in the United States. This right is guaranteed to all persons in the US even if they are not citizens of the United States.
If ICE agents stop you on the street but you are not committing a crime at the time that they stop you on the street, you do not need to speak with them. While ICE agents may pat you down for weapons, they do not have a right to check the contents of your bag or purse without your consent.
If ICE agents come to your home or workplace with a proper warrant of arrest or search warrant, aliens have a right to remain silent. This means that they do not need to give ICE agents any information except their name.
Even aliens have a right to an attorney. You can call an immigration attorney to assist you. You can refuse to speak or to sign any documents until you have the assistance of an immigration attorney.