What to Do if Stopped by Immigration and Customs Enforcement

At our California law office, Greco Neyland handles a number of immigration issues and cases. Our clients have questions about student visas and naturalization, but one of the more important issues we deal with every day is detention by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, also referred to as ICE.

Investigation and detention by ICE have substantial consequences, even when detention of an individual occurs on accident or by mistake. It can take months to unravel the documentation and legal repercussions of immigration detention, which makes it incredibly important to handle any interaction with ICE appropriately and effectively. Here are five pieces of advice if an officer or agent from ICE ever stops you.

#1: Remain Calm and Don’t Rush a Reaction

Whether you are in the United States legally or illegally, an encounter with an ICE agent is nerve-wracking and stressful. Amongst the rush of emotions that can accompany initial questions or a search by an ICE agent, the initial reaction can be to run, move quickly, or act rashly.

While these responses are all valid, it is crucial to remain calm and not rush a reaction to being approached by an ICE officer. When you stay calm, your reaction is far more likely to be measured, thoughtful, and in your best interest.

#2: Know Your Rights During a Stop

Everyone is guaranteed specific rights under the United States Constitution. These rights do not just apply to United States citizens or permanent residents but are universal to all people in the country. These rights apply to your encounters with ICE agents and other law enforcement. Knowing your rights is essential.

While there are several rights to know and understand, our team at Greco Neyland wants to draw attention to two of them. First, you have the right to remain silent. You do not have to answer any questions posed by an ICE agent. Second, if you are arrested for an immigration crime, you have the right to a lawyer. You can request a lawyer immediately.

#3: You Do Not Have to Reveal Your Immigration Status

Understanding your rights during an encounter with immigration officials can impact the outcome of a conversation or stop by ICE agents. As we stated, knowing your right to remain silent during any encounter with ICE is critical. You do not have to answer any questions asked by an ICE officer, which includes questions about your immigration status in the United States.

You do not need to state your immigration status, answering questions about where you were born or where your family lives, or questions about where and how you entered the United States. As an alternative, you can ask to speak with your immigration lawyer at Greco Neyland.

#4: Do Not Resist Arrest by an ICE Agent

Regardless of the circumstances of an arrest by an ICE agent, resisting the arrest will not help. Even if you think the circumstances or process of the arrest is unfair, you shouldn’t resist. You shouldn’t argue, verbally or physically with an ICE officer, as this will complicate the circumstances of your arrest and could negatively impact later arguments against the procedure and appropriateness of the arrest. As well, resisting arrest could lead to criminal charges in the United States, which is a separate offense outside any original immigration charges.

#5: Call Your Immigration Lawyer

No matter the outcome of your encounter with an ICE agent, you should speak with an immigration lawyer after a stop, search, or conversation with an immigration official. You may need to take separate action to protect your immigration status and ensure future encounters don’t end in arrest. In particular, if your encounter with an ICE agent could lead to an investigation of your immigration status or arrest, you will need an immigration lawyer in the near future.

You can talk with an immigration lawyer today at Greco Neyland in Los Angeles. Our team of immigration lawyers are committed to swift and responsive immigration law services, including our dedicated team of deportation lawyers. Call us at (213) 295-3500.


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