Person standing on busy street | Immigration attorney

Can ICE Stop You on the Street?

It is very important to know your rights ahead of time so that if ICE detains you in the street, you’ll know what to do.  It can be scary when U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) stops you unexpectedly, but with the correct information at your fingertips, these encounters can be minimized and handled effectively.

You may be wondering about the law and asking yourself: Can ICE stop you on the street?  The answer is yes, but only under limited circumstances and for limited reasons.  ICE does not have blanket authority to stop everyone all the time.  If you have been detained and need legal assistance, contact immigration lawyers at Carman Fullerton law firm at (859) 687-6539.  We would be glad to help.  Our attorneys speak Spanish as well as English.

Following is a list of actions recommended by the Immigrant Defense Project if ICE stops you in the street or in public:

  • Typically, arrests in public happen quickly.
  • If ICE calls your name out loud and asks you to confirm it, remain silent.
  • Next ask, “Am I free to go?”
  • If ICE says “yes,” then say, “I prefer not to answer your questions right now” and walk away.
  • If ICE says “no,” tell them “I want to use my right to remain silent.” Then say, “I want to speak to a lawyer.”
  • If ICE begins to search your purse, pockets or belongings, say, “I do not consent to a search.”
  • Do not lie or show false documents.
  • Don’t flee or resist arrest.
  • Do not answer questions about immigration status or place of birth.
  • Do not hand over any foreign documents such as passport, consular IDs, or expired visas.
  • If you have arrived in criminal court for a court date, ask to speak to your lawyer immediately.

There are many community agencies and human rights organizations that can help immigrants understand their rights and find support in their towns, counties and states.  Organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) offer extensive details about immigrants’ rights.  These groups – most of which provide information in many languages — also offer immigrants’ rights training so that you and others are prepared and know exactly what to do if ICE stops you on the street or knocks on your door at home.

What If ICE Stops You in the Street?  Know Your Rights

  1. You have the right to remain silent. You are not required to speak to immigration officials or answer any of ICE’s questions.
  2. You have the right to refuse a search. If you are stopped for questioning but not arrested, you have the right to refuse a search of your person or belongings, but ICE officers may “pat down” your clothes if they believe you have a weapon.
  3. You have the right to speak to a lawyer. If you are detained or arrested, request to speak to an attorney immediately.  If you do not have one, ask the officer for a list of pro bono lawyers.
  4. You have the right to contact your consulate. Consulate officials may be able to help you.
  5. You have the right to refuse to sign any/all paperwork until after you’ve spoken to a lawyer. If you do decide to sign something, make sure you know what it says and what the consequences will be.

Just because you may not be a citizen of the United States, that does not mean that you don’t have any rights.  YOU DO INDEED HAVE LEGAL RIGHTS.  It is important to know these and be prepared to use them.  The attorneys at Carman Fullerton can help.  Call us at (859) 687-6539.

Who Is at Risk of Being Detained by ICE in the Street?

Legally, the law allows the federal government to arrest and deport certain immigrants including:

  • Anyone without lawful immigration status
  • People with legal status who have certain criminal convictions
  • People with pending criminal cases
  • People with final orders of removal
  • People who have committed fraud or misrepresentation in government applications
  • People ICE believes pose a threat to public safety.

Where criminal convictions are concerned, a person can still be at risk even if the conviction was many years ago, the case was only minor or a misdemeanor, you did not spend any time in jail, and if the rest of your family are U.S. citizens.

Can My Family Be Detained by ICE Along with Me?

If they are not U.S. citizens then, yes, generally ICE can detain any of your family members or stop them on the street under the same conditions listed above.  Family members have the same rights you do and should follow the same recommended actions that you do.  Family members also have the right to remain silent, refuse to consent to being searched, and request a lawyer.  Each family member should invoke their rights on their own behalf.  You may be tempted to jump in and defend your family members or physically confront ICE officers if they try to pat down or arrest your family.  Practice restraint, and do not resist arrest.  Say as little as possible and request an attorney immediately.

Who Can Help Me If ICE Stops Me on the Street?

There are many organizations that can help you if you are stopped by ICE on the street, and this includes the bilingual lawyers at Carman Fullerton.  Our immigration attorneys have decades of experience helping families just like yours.  We understand the obstacles you face, and we also know that it can be very frightening if you are abruptly stopped by ICE on the street.  Things happen very fast, and you may be in trouble before you know it.  Try not to let worry or fear overwhelm you.  Instead contact an immigration lawyer you can trust.  The attorneys at Carman Fullerton are here to help.  For a consultation about your rights, call us at (859) 687-6539.  We will answer your questions, discuss your options, and represent you in court.  Don’t delay, call today.

Attorney Kirby J. Fullerton

Mr. Fullerton’s practice is focused on immigration law. He speaks Spanish, and represents clients in cases before the immigration courts and the Board of Immigration Appeals. He began his career practicing criminal defense, and understands how matters in criminal courts can affect a client’s immigration status. [Attorney Bio]