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What should I do when ice agents show up at our office to interview me

By Spodek Law Group | July 19, 2023
(Last Updated On: July 27, 2023)

Last Updated on: 27th July 2023, 04:35 pm

A Step-by-Step Guide to Handling ICE Interviews at Your Office

If you ever have Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents show up at your workplace asking to interview you or a colleague, it’s understandable to feel anxious or uncertain how to respond. However, there are certain steps you should take to protect your rights in this situation.

In this comprehensive guide, I’ll walk you through exactly what to do from the moment ICE arrives, to finding the right legal representation, to navigating the interview process. I’ll also explain why having an experienced immigration attorney is so crucial.

Let’s dive in!

When ICE Arrives: Initial Actions

If ICE agents arrive at your office unexpectedly asking to speak with you or someone else, remain calm. Politely ask to see their credentials – all ICE agents carry badges and working credentials.

Confirm the type of interview they wish to conduct, as well as whether they have a warrant. There are two main types of ICE interviews:

  • Basic Identifying Questions – ICE is allowed to ask basics like your name, place of birth, immigration status, etc. without a warrant. You are not legally required to provide other information.
  • Custodial Interrogation – If ICE wants to detain or extensively question you, they need a warrant signed by a judge or magistrate. Ask to review the warrant and confirm its validity.

If they don’t have a warrant, politely decline to answer further questions and state you will not speak with them without an attorney present.

Important: You have the right to remain silent! Anything you say can be used against you or others.

Next, ask the agents to wait outside or in a reception area. Do not let them wander around work areas. Contain the situation, and immediately contact upper management or an attorney for guidance.

At this point, you’re probably wondering why it’s so critical to have an attorney present instead of answering ICE’s questions yourself. There are several key reasons:

  • They legally represent your interests, not ICE’s.
  • They fully understand your constitutional rights and can intervene to protect them.
  • They can examine any warrants and assess if they are valid.
  • They can negotiate with ICE on your behalf and potentially reduce charges.
  • They can ensure you don’t accidentally self-incriminate and make matters worse.

Simply put, experienced immigration lawyers know how to handle ICE interviews properly and minimize risks. Don’t take chances without legal guidance.

Common Mistakes to Avoid Without an Attorney

If you try engaging with ICE alone, you may commit crucial errors that permanently damage your case. Common mistakes include:

  • Answering questions without knowing your rights.
  • Admitting to violations you weren’t aware of.
  • Providing misleading or false information accidentally.
  • Signing documents you don’t fully understand.
  • Failing to request time to obtain legal counsel.

Any of these could prompt criminal charges or deportation proceedings against you. An attorney will prevent such mistakes.

Finding an Immigration Lawyer

Now that you understand the importance of proper legal counsel, let’s discuss how to find an immigration attorney qualified to handle an ICE worksite interview or raid.

Look for These Qualifications

Seek out lawyers with ample experience in immigration defense specifically. Look for these credentials:

  • Immigration defense experience of 5+ years.
  • Knowledge of criminal law and defense tactics.
  • Familiarity with civil rights issues and remedies.
  • Litigation expertise for removal proceedings.
  • Background representing detainees.

Prior experience with worksite raids and ICE interviews is a major plus. Familiarity with employment eligibility laws also helps.

Lawyers certified by the American Immigration Lawyers Association have demonstrated required expertise through exams. This certification indicates extensive knowledge.

Where to Search for Immigration Attorneys

Reliable places to search for experienced immigration lawyers include:

  • American Immigration Lawyers Association directory.
  • State bar association referral services.
  • National Immigration Project referral line.
  • American Immigration Representation Project.
  • Reputable legal aid societies and nonprofits.
  • Law school clinics at respected universities.

Avoid “notario” scam operations. Always verify licenses and credentials first.

Also request referrals from trusted business associates or community members who have utilized immigration attorneys before.

Vet Potential Lawyers Thoroughly

Once you have compiled a list of prospects, vet them thoroughly by:

  • Researching their background and experience.
  • Calling former clients for reviews.
  • Interviewing them about your situation.
  • Comparing their track records fighting ICE interviews.
  • Asking about their retainer fees and billing.
  • Assessing responsiveness and communication skills.

Take time making this decision. The right legal representation can hugely impact the interview outcome.

Preparing for the ICE Interview

After securing your lawyer, shift focus to preparing for the actual interview. Here are key steps to take:

Strategize with Your Attorney

Work closely with your lawyer to strategize your approach. Important discussions include:

  • What information you are obligated to provide.
  • What rights you can assert to avoid self-incrimination.
  • Particularly sensitive topics to avoid.
  • How to appear cooperative without detrimental admissions.
  • Paperwork you should have available.
  • Special considerations based on your status.

Listen to their advice closely so you understand legal risks and protections.

Gather Any Relevant Documentation

Collect paperwork that verifies your statements and compliance with employment laws:

  • Identity and employment authorization documents.
  • Visa status evidence and communications.
  • I-9 employment verification form.
  • Recent pay stubs and tax statements.
  • Office personnel files, policies, handbooks.

Thorough documentation prevents misrepresentations about your status or employment.

Anticipate Likely Questions

With your attorney’s guidance, make a list of questions ICE may plausibly ask so you can prepare responses. Expect interrogation about:

  • Identity, background, immigration status.
  • Employment eligibility verification processes.
  • Hiring and payroll policies.
  • Your specific work authorization.
  • Compliance with employment regulations.

Draft honest answers focused on facts, not opinions. Stick to your strategy.

Get Plenty of Rest

In the final days leading up to the interview, make sure to get sufficient sleep. Proper rest ensures you remain calm and focused instead of anxious.

During the ICE Interview

Once the ICE interview begins, adhere to the following guidelines:

  • Bring your prepared documents and notes.
  • Ask your lawyer to lead the discussion when possible.
  • Remain polite and compliant within reason.
  • Do not volunteer additional information.
  • If you don’t understand a question, ask for clarification.
  • Confer privately with your lawyer if you need guidance responding.
  • Review any documents carefully before signing.
  • Avoid guessing or speculating – stick to facts.

With your lawyer monitoring the questioning, you can feel confident responding accurately without legal missteps. Answer questions directly without elaborating unnecessarily.

If at any point you feel your rights are being violated, politely refuse to continue and re-assert your protections. Your attorney can advise the best approach.

After the ICE Interview

Once the interview concludes, be sure to do the following:

  • Debrief with your lawyer about what transpired.
  • Discuss next steps based on interview developments.
  • Go over any new information or documents received.
  • Identify areas of concern or follow-ups needed.
  • Review your legal obligations and rights going forward.
  • Have a plan ready if ICE contacts you for additional questions later.

Proper follow-up ensures ICE has no grounds to accuse you of evasion or dishonesty later. Keep your attorney informed if agents reappear.

You also may need to report the developments to your employer, balancing legal protections and disclosure mandates. Discuss best practices with counsel.

Why Following Protocol Matters

While facing potential ICE questioning at work may sound intimidating, staying calm and following protocol minimizes risks and protects rights. With an experienced attorney guiding you, you can feel confident through the process.

By politely verifying credentials, declining to speak without counsel, gathering documents, and carefully answering questions, you reduce chances of legal missteps. Your lawyer also can intervene if things go awry.

While ICE may pressure for instant answers, protocols exist for a reason. Following proper steps prevents self-incrimination. Patience and planning are crucial when your legal status is on the line.

With the right preparation and representation, an ICE worksite interview does not have to be an ordeal. You can demonstrate compliance and resolve the inquiry efficiently. Just stick to the plan with your lawyer, and have faith in your rights.

So in summary, if ICE ever arrives unexpectedly seeking to interview you or someone else at your workplace, stay calm, seek counsel, politely defer questions until your lawyer arrives, prepare meticulously, and proceed cautiously. With diligent advocacy and caution, you can navigate the proceedings successfully.

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