When you emigrated from another country to New York, you likely felt glad when you began making new friends. Especially if you didn’t already have many family members in the United States, you were no doubt relieved and comforted by the fact that some of your new neighbors or people you met in the workplace were reaching out to you to help you adapt to your new lifestyle.
There are many issues that can cause immigration law problems regarding your legal status, employment or other matters. It’s also possible that a criminal law issue might intersect with U.S. immigration law, landing you in a heap of legal trouble that you aren’t sure how to resolve. For instance, if New York police officers knock at your door, do you have to let them inside your home?
Know your rights
If someone arrives at your doorstep that you haven’t invited to your home, you don’t necessarily have to allow them to enter. You might want to step outside and close your door behind you until you have learned the reason for the visit. If the person or people on your doorstep are police officers, the same rules apply. Unless police have a signed search warrant, you do not have to allow them entry to your home, although there are extenuating issues that would eliminate their need for a warrant.
Issues that may prompt entry without a warrant
If someone fires shots from inside your home, police may enter without a warrant. Also, if they claim to have witnessed someone they were chasing enter your residence, they can go inside to see if he or she is there. Police don’t need a signed search warrant to enter a house if they believe public safety is at risk.
What if they start asking questions?
Maybe you were enjoying a nice, quiet evening at home with your family or were sound asleep when you suddenly heard a loud rapping at your door. In your haste to restore peace and quiet, you may have opened the door, surprised to see New York police officers or Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers on the other side.
If officers start demanding answers to questions that are making you nervous, it’s critical that you know your rights and how to protect them. In the United States, the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects your right to remain silent without the presence of legal representation if police or ICE officers are interrogating you.
If cooperation leads to an arrest
Perhaps you allowed police or ICE to enter your home because you figured that cooperating would be better than appearing resistant to the officers’ request. If the authorities in question suspect you of a crime or that you entered the United States without proper paperwork in order, you might wind up in handcuffs.
While such situations are extremely stressful, it’s best to try to remain calm and remember that you have rights. You are also guaranteed an opportunity to refute criminal charges in court.