ICE Posing as Local Police to Avoid Warrant Requirements & Arrest Immigrants
There have been recent reports of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents purposely misidentifying themselves as local police, members of narcotics squads, or using other disguises, including here in North Carolina, in order to pursue and detain immigrants throughout the community without first obtaining valid warrants. While ICE has indicated that it is within their agents’ authority to identify themselves as “police,” justifying their actions by arguing that the word “police” is universally recognized in different cultures that do not speak English, in fact, pursuant to the Fourth Amendment, ICE agents need warrants or valid consent to enter peoples’ homes, regardless of the individuals’ citizenship status. These requirements extend to areas surrounding the home, such as hallways, porches, doorways, yards, and other private areas (known as the “curtilage”), which also requires either a judicial warrant or permission.
Instead, reports indicate that ICE officers are deceiving people by pretending to seek assistance with unrelated, fictitious scenarios (such as looking for dangerous criminals in the area or engaging in probation activities) in an effort to get people to open their doors, let them in, and then search homes and arrest people without warrants. This violates Fourth Amendment search and seizure requirements. Below, we explain the rights and regulations surrounding these activities:
What Is “Valid Consent”?
In these latest cases, ICE agents were allowed into homes by a number of immigrant families only after they were misled and misinformed by the agents. This does not constitute valid consent to enter a residence; it amounts to an illegal search and arrest because it involves officers coercing consent to enter the home by impersonating other government officials after already violating their reasonable expectations of privacy by entering the curtilage of their homes; also without consent or a warrant.
Department of Homeland Security & ICE Regulation Requirements
Department of Homeland Security regulations dictate that ICE cannot enter a residence, including its curtilage, in order to question occupants without valid consent or a warrant, and the agency’s own rules and regulations state that ICE officers must notify any agencies it plans to impersonate and obtain permission and/or provide them with an opportunity to object—actions the agency has reportedly never undertaken in this endeavor.
Know Your Rights
It is crucial that you are aware of your rights. Know that:
- ICE officers obtaining administrative warrants from the agency do not allow them to enter homes and do not survive scrutiny under the Fourth Amendment because they are not reviewed by independent judicial officers
- Searches and seizures inside your home are presumptively unreasonable because you have the right to be free from unreasonable government intrusion
- Valid consent cannot be provided where a government agent misrepresents their purpose or poses as another government agent. Similarly, using a ruse to get someone to step outside of their home also violates the Fourth Amendment
- The protections you receive under the Fourth Amendment also extend to outdoor areas known as the “curtilage,” regardless of whether you live in an apartment or detached home. This means that ICE officers need consent or a warrant to be there
If You Have Any Questions or Concerns, Or Have Been Arrested & Are Facing Charges, Contact A North Carolina Immigration & Defense Attorney
If you are an immigrant and your rights have been violated in the process of being arrested here in North Carolina, it is critical that you speak with an attorney who practices in both criminal defense and immigration law. Contact experienced North Carolina immigration attorney Rashad Hauter right away to find out how we can help ensure that you are protected.