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ICE agent calls you by name on the street: Should you respond?

After arriving in Texas from another country of origin, you may have faced many challenges as you adapted to your new lifestyle. If you brought family to the U.S. with you, your challenges may have included helping them make friends and also how to cope with a language barrier, as well as learning to navigate roadways and finding your way around town.  

Not every immigrant's transition to life in the United States is easy. If you're one of many who have faced significant obstacles along the way, you should know you're not alone in your struggle. Many difficult situations have a lot to do with legal status. Perhaps your paperwork wasn't in order when you crossed the border; that can definitely intensify your stress. Many people in similar situations say they fear that ICE agents will target them in public and take them away to detainment centers.  

What to do if an ICE officer approaches you  

Since Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents have the power to take you into custody, you'd likely want to try to remain as calm as possible and cooperate with immigration officials who approach you in a public place. Then again, you don't want to say or do anything that may lead to deportation. The following list includes useful ideas that may help you avoid legal trouble:  

  • Know your rights and how to protect them. There are support teams who can come to your assistance if an ICE officer starts asking you questions.
  • You do not have to say anything that confirms your identity if an immigration official calls you by name in public. 
  • If an ICE officer walks up to you and asks you to confirm your identity, you may simply ask if you are free to leave the scene. 
  • If the office says you are not free to go, you may invoke your right to remain silent under the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. 
  • You may also request legal representation. 
  • One thing you should never do is try to flee the scene. That will likely only make matters much worse in the long-run. 
  • Know that, if you have a pending criminal case in the U.S., you are at greater risk for removal than someone with no criminal history. 
  • ICE officials usually know who they are looking for ahead of time. They identify someone they wish to question, then search for him or her. 
  • You do not have to consent to a search. If ICE officers try to search your person or vehicle, you can say that you are not consenting to the search.  

ICE agents must have a valid search warrant to enter your home. They must also have a search warrant to reach in your pockets or otherwise search you on the street. If you believe immigration officials have violated your rights, you can take legal steps to bring the matter to the court's attention.

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