ICE agents have resorted to trickery and deception in order to gain entry into people's homes. Instead of identifying themselves as ICE, they mispresent themselves as police or probation officers. They use intimidation tactics, tell fake stories designed to lure a person out of their home, or trick people into inviting the agents inside or give up information.

Communities that know their rights can lawfully prevent ICE from entering their homes and protect themselves, their neighbors, and their loved ones.

1. What is ICE doing to make home arrests?

Q.What is ICE doing to make home arrests?
A.

ICE has been turning to increasingly problematic tactics to make home arrests. Without a warrant signed by a judge, ICE cannot enter your home unless you permit them to do so. But “know your rights” campaigns have empowered more community members to deny entry to ICE. Frustrated, ICE agents are relying on deception to trick people into letting them into their homes or agreeing to step outside their homes. ICE agents engage in “ruses,” such as by claiming they are police officers investigating a crime. They also wear uniforms that say “POLICE” and falsely identify themselves as police, detectives, or probation officers.

2. Are ICE agents “police”?

Q.Are ICE agents “police”?
A.

No! If someone yelled “call the police!,” no one would think to call ICE. That’s because we know that the term “police” refers to your local law enforcement agency. There are many government agencies that enforce the law—from the IRS to building inspectors to fish/wildlife officers—but we do not consider them “police.” The same is true of ICE. ICE claims they use the term “police” because people may not know who ICE is. But the public, especially immigrant community members, are all too familiar with ICE. ICE officers disguise themselves as “police” precisely because people know who ICE is and don’t want to help them.

3. Is it legal for ICE to engage in this kind of deception?

Q.Is it legal for ICE to engage in this kind of deception?
A.

No, ICE agents should not be falsely impersonating another government official or claiming they have a different governmental purpose to gain your permission to come into your home. A person’s “consent” under these circumstances is not valid. ICE’s resulting entry in the home and any arrests they conduct violate the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

4. What is “curtilage”?

Q.What is “curtilage”?
A.

“Curtilage” is a legal term for the areas immediately surrounding a home that are typically considered private (such as porches, yards, private hallways and vestibules). The “curtilage” of a home is generally entitled to the same protections against government intrusion as the home itself.

5. Can ICE enter the curtilage of my home without my permission?

Q.Can ICE enter the curtilage of my home without my permission?
A.

Unless they have a warrant signed by a judge, ICE cannot enter the curtilage of your home to arrest someone inside. Government officials may enter your curtilage without prior permission to the same extent as other members of the public may do so. So, for example, courts have stated that government officials may walk up to your front door simply to knock and ask your permission to answer some questions—just like courts assume you would permit other members of the public to do. But courts are not willing to assume that anyone would permit a member of the public to enter the curtilage their home to physically detain someone inside and take them away. ICE therefore cannot do so without a warrant or your express permission.

6. What can I do if ICE, or someone claiming to be the police, comes to my door?

Q.What can I do if ICE, or someone claiming to be the police, comes to my door?
A.

There are a few simple steps you can take to prevent ICE from entering your home:

  • Verify who is at the door: ask what police department they are from, to see their identification or badge, why they are at your house, and whether they have a warrant signed by a judge.
  • Document: video the encounter, identify witnesses, and write up a detailed account of what happened.
  • Report: download the Mobile Justice app to record and report encounters to the ACLU. We are collecting stories now. Contact your local raids network or other legal service providers to get legal assistance.

Unless the officer presents a warrant signed by a judge, you have the right to refuse them entry to your home. You can politely inform the officer that you know your rights, and you do not permit them in your home. If the officer ignores you and proceeds to enter your home, do not attempt to physically stop them or otherwise obstruct their entry. You can continue to make clear you do not authorize their entry, and verify, document, and report the encounter afterward.