More information on handling law enforcement interactions

On Behalf of | Jun 27, 2022 | Immigration

Readers of this blog are interested in immigration related topics. And, once such often overlooked immigration topic is handling interactions with law enforcement. In a prior blog post, we spoke about what immigrants should do if they get pulled over by the police. In this blog post, we will go over interactions with immigration law enforcement.


When you know that you are going to have an interaction with immigration law enforcement, including at airports and ports of entry, be prepared. Let your family know of your travels, and if you have an attorney, let them know as well. Memorize your lawyer’s and family’s numbers, and make sure that, if you have children, there are plans for their care, should you be arrested. Make sure your family knows your “A” immigration number, in case they need to find you in the system, and make sure they know where your immigration documents are located.

Interactions with ICE

Remember, when interacting with ICE, you do not have to consent to a search. This includes of yourself and all of your belongings. This does not mean they will not do it anyway, but make sure you make it known that you are not consenting. You also do not have to answer questions about where you were born. You do not have to answer questions about your citizenship status. And, you do not have to answer questions about how you entered the United States, unless you are traveling internationally.

ICE detention

If ICE detains you, ask for a lawyer. Unlike the police, ICE does not have to provide you with a lawyer, so you will need to call your attorney. You can still remain silent otherwise, though. Do not make excuses. Do not give explanations. Anything you say will be used against you, so do not speak except to say you want your lawyer. You can also ask to speak with your consulate. That is your right.

Border Patrol detention

Like all other law enforcement interactions, stay calm, do not flee, do not lie and remain silent. Let the agent know that you will only answer questions with your attorney present. You do not have to answer questions about immigration status, though, there are some exceptions for those who are in the United States for a specific reason, like a nonimmigrant visa, etc. At immigration checkpoints, you will be searched, and they can stop you for any reason and ask questions. They will ask you immigration related information, and you will need to answer those questions. In future posts, we will explore additional rules of thumb for interactions with various law enforcement and immigration agencies.