In the past year, the U.S. has authorized raids at the homes of thousands of immigrants. This creates understandable fears in people who worry they may be targeted.

You still have rights when authorities come directly to your home. It’s important to know what to do if that does happen to help protect yourself and your family.

What to do if ICE shows up at your home

First and foremost, do not panic. Keep calm and follow these guidelines:

  1. Don’t open the door. You are under no obligation to open the door to the authorities if they show up at your home. The only reasons they are allowed to enter are if you personally invite them to, if you are on a type of probation that allows searches, or if they present a valid warrant for arrest. If they say they have a warrant, ask them to slip it under the door. A deportation warrant, called Form I-205, does not permit them to enter your home if you don’t give them permission.
  2. Stay silent. You have the right to plead the fifth amendment, since whatever you do say can be used against you by ICE in court. Calmly tell them: “I’m choosing to plead the fifth and remain silent.”
  3. Never sign anything. You’ll want to make sure your lawyer reads anything you’re asked to sign before doing so. Never produce any false documents or tell any lies.

If you’ve done all of the above, but agents attempt to force themselves into your home, it’s important not to resist, as this can be very dangerous. Tell them you do not consent to them entering, that you’ll maintain your right to stay silent, and that you request to speak with your lawyer as soon as possible.

If you feel prepared and calm about a possible ICE raid, you’ll lower the risk of serious issues from the agents who show up. Always contact your lawyer after immigration authorities show up at your house, even if they leave.