Both documented and undocumented immigrants in New York are facing an enormous amount of uncertainty at the moment. The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency seems to be stepping up efforts to locate and arrest immigrants who it believes qualify for removal. However, many ICE agents are apparently overstepping their bounds and misrepresenting the law, either intentionally or otherwise. For these reasons, immigrants and citizens alike should understand their rights under the law.
According to reports, ICE is currently looking for approximately 2,000 immigrants who have orders for deportation. However, from Jan. 2016 to Sept. 2018, around 85% of the immigrants that ICE deported either had not been convicted for serious or violent crimes, or had no criminal convictions whatsoever. Additionally, 27,540 legal residents and citizens were interviewed, screened and sometimes even detained in 2018. In 2016, only 5,490 legal residents or citizens went through this process.
ICE agents may use intimidation and administrative warrants in these types of situations. After learning that agents have an administrative warrant, an individual may be more likely to feel like he or she must comply with all requests, such as entry into a home or vehicle. However, administrative warrants do not give agents the legal right to access a person's home or make an arrest. ICE agents must have a search warrant that has been signed by a judge to take any such actions. Agents can, however, arrest a person without a warrant if they have evidence that a person is either undocumented or has committed a crime.
If ICE agents claim to have a warrant, an individual should be sure to ask whether it is an administrative or a search warrant. If faced with administrative warrant, he or she does not have to answer questions, may remain silent and does not have to allow entrance into a place of residence. Dealing with ICE agents is an extremely distressing experience, so immigrants and even citizens who are worried they are at risk for being mistakenly targeted should be sure that they fully understand their rights. Since New York and federal immigration laws are extremely complex, seeking guidance from a knowledgeable attorney can be helpful.