Ordered Deported: Are Immigration Raids Legal?

By Ephrat Livni, Esq. on January 07, 2016 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Undocumented immigrants in New York are panicking over reports of raids by authorities, according to the New York Times. But an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) official confirmed that no unusual enforcement actions are happening in that state.

That said, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) did arrest 121 people in the US over the weekend, targeting Central American migrants who arrived in 2014. All reportedly already had orders of deportation issued after their asylum claims were denied or they failed to appear in court. Authorities can legally remove people whose legal process is complete. But the government does make mistakes.

Getting Raids Right

Although the government can legally remove those already ordered deported by the courts, immigration officials do not always get raids right. An overly-zealous 2007 New York enforcement action cost ICE $1 million.

In 2013, the agency settled a lawsuit with 22 people who accused armed officers of unlawfully entering their homes without warrants. Immigration agents now have to get consent to enter a private residence, and if that consent is refused, they cannot use force to enter. They also need a Spanish-speaking officer present if the person sought is Latino.

The Weekend Deportees

Many of those targeted in the immigration arrests this past weekend were asylum applicants who said they fled violence at home. Those being removed reportedly already had orders of deportation issued against them, either because they lost their asylum claims or never showed up for court and were ordered removed in absentia.

Immigration agents do have the authority to arrest people court-ordered deported. But they are also agents of the law and duty bound to uphold it. They need a warrant for arrest ... unless behavior triggers a reasonable suspicion.

Do Not Run

At a "Know Your Rights" meeting for concerned immigrants in New York, one lawyer advised attendees to be careful because an immigration officer legitimately looking for one person can make "collateral arrests." He warned that running if immigration officers appear in a public place, like a park, will trigger suspicion and give cause for an arrest.

Thomas Angelillo, a lawyer with El Centro, told the audience that if immigration agents show up at home, "Do not open the door. Remain silent and do not speak. Or say that you want to speak to a lawyer." He added, "Ask to see an arrest warrant."

Consult With Counsel

If you are an immigrant concerned with your status in this country, do not delay. Speak to an immigration attorney today. Many lawyers are multilingual and consult for free or no fee. Get help.

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