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Expert advice: What to do if ICE comes to your door

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Kings County immigrants, regardless of their legal status, are protected by many of the same rights that safeguard U.S. citizens against harassment by law enforcement.

As President Trump directs Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents to conduct raids throughout the borough, locals should seek to arm themselves with knowledge of their own rights, and use the law to protect themselves against the federal operatives.

ICE agents are not entitled to enter your home, and must come equipped with a warrant signed by a federal judge in order to invade your property, according to a senior immigration expert, who said that anyone confronted by ICE at their door should demand a copy of the warrant and seek to confirm its validity — before opening their door.

“If ICE comes to the door in the middle of the night — usually at 4 am — you should ask them, ‘do you have a warrant,’ and if they don’t have a warrant you don’t have to let them in,” said Hasan Shafiqullah, Legal Aid Society’s chief immigration lawyer.

Trump’s G-men attempted to gain access to a property in Harlem, along with two properties in Sunset Park, and in at least one of the Brooklyn cases, the feds were thwarted when a local man refused to allow them entrance for lack of a warrant, according to a Pix 11 report.

And, while federal judges may issue warrants at their discretion, history has shown that — in the case of immigration enforcement — they do so only rarely, according Shafiqullah.

“It’s up to federal district court judges whether they will issue the order,” he said. “In my experience, it’s been very rare that [ICE agents] have a judicial warrant, but it’s unclear whether they will start doing that more in the future.”

However, Shafiqullah noted that locals should watch out for ICE agents attempting to mislead them by offering so-called “administra­tive warrants,” which are not signed by a judge and do not entitle them to enter your home. Judicial warrants typically feature the name of the federal court prominently on the document, while ICE’s administrative warrants do not.

Other tricks employed by ICE include telling people they have to open the door without a judicial warrant, or wearing police department jackets, the lawyer said.

“ICE uses all kinds of ruses to gain access and get people to cooperate with them,” he said.

He noted that people unsure about their immigration status should phone the United States Department of Justice’s toll-free number at (800) 898-7180 to see if they have a removal order against them, adding that there is no risk in calling.

He said that even if someone does have a removal order against them, they should reach out to an immigration attorney and that there are still options available to them.

“The fact that someone has a final removal order doesn’t mean that all is lost,” he said. “They may still be entitled to seek asylum if they can make a credible claim of fear to returning to their home country.”

Reach reporter Kevin Duggan at (718) 260–2511 or by e-mail at kduggan@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @kduggan16.

Posted 12:00 am, July 17, 2019
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