All people in the U.S., regardless of immigration status, have rights under the U.S. Constitution and other laws You can’t always control whether you will come in contact with immigration or law enforcement. Understanding what your fundamental rights are and how to use them will help you advocate for yourself and respond appropriately if you encounter the police or immigration enforcement.
Know Your Rights with ICE
ICE stands for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, an agency within the Department of Homeland Security. ICE was created in 2003, as a part of the government’s reorganization after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. The idea behind the creation of ICE was to better protect the United States from terrorist and security threats.
ICE is one of three agencies that absorbed and assumed the functions of the former Immigration and Naturalization Service (which was previously housed under the Justice Department) and the United States Customs Service (which was part of the Treasury Department). The other two Homeland Security agencies that took some of those responsibilities are Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Citizenship Services.
Is ICE separating families at the border?
No. That’s Customs and Border Protection, the parent agency for the Border Patrol, which is responsible for patrolling, monitoring and securing the United States’ borders with Mexico and Canada. Under the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy, which calls for prosecuting all who illegally enter the United States, Border Patrol agents at the southwestern border have been arresting and jailing adults, separating them from their children
What does ICE do?
ICE is made up of three major offices, one of which has overshadowed the others. Enforcement and Removal Operations, the best-known division of ICE, arrests, detains and deports unauthorized immigrants already inside the United States. Under President Barack Obama, the division prioritized removing undocumented immigrants who had committed serious crimes in the United States. Mr. Trump, after taking office, took a more hard-line stance and directed his administration to target anyone in the country illegally.
Beyond Enforcement and Removal Operations is the lesser-known Homeland Security Investigations, which pursues criminals and terrorists involved in drug trafficking, weapons smuggling, human trafficking, cybercrime, financial crimes and identity fraud. It is also the lead government agency for counterproliferation investigations, and targets individuals who illegally try to smuggle military and other high-tech equipment out of the United States.
The Office of the Principal Legal Adviser is the smallest division of ICE. Within this division, workers provide legal support to other employees and represent the government in immigration courts.
Red cards are like helpful business cards that you can hand to an officer if he/she approaches you in public or slide under your front door if he/she knocks and begins to ask questions. Red cards are printed with your rights under the Constitution, and a statement that you are exercising your right to remain silent.
Red Card Steps:
- Print out your red card
- Place your red card in your wallet or purse
- If approached by an officer in public and questioned, ask if you can remove the card to show to the officer
- If an officer approaches your home, slide the red card to the officer under the front door or hold it up against a window for them to read
Multi-lingual Guide (English, Spanish, Tagalog, and Tongan) to using a Red Card
- NY Immigration Coalition Know Your Rights Toolkit
- NYC Mayors Office of Immigrant Affairs
- iAmerica Downloadable Resource Sheets
- NYU School of Law Teach-In and Know Your Rights Presentations: A deeply informative series of presentations ensuring that you know your rights in the event of a raid, detention and deportation proceedings, or police encounter. It also includes ways to prepare for the new presidential administration if you have a criminal record, have DACA, are undocumented, and more.
This hotline is available to anyone impacted by ICE raids. Call Monday through Friday 9am to 8pm. Calls are anonymous and calls remain confidential. Calls are answered in different languages. Not affiliated with US Citizen and immigration service. No legal advice is offered.
NYS only: 1-800-566-7636
Outside of NYS: 1-212-419-3737