ICE Raids in Charlotte: What You Need to Know


As 2015 wound to a close and people were celebrating the holiday season, news leaked that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) were planning raids to round up and deport Central Americans who entered the U.S. as part of the “humanitarian crisis at the border” of the summer of 2014. As his first order of business of 2016, DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson issued a statement confirming that ICE was “engaged in concerted, nationwide enforcement operations to take into custody” and deport those who “entered into this country illegally . . . including families and unaccompanied children.” ICE is focusing their raids in areas of high Central American immigrant concentrations, including North Carolina and specifically the Charlotte metropolitan area.

Reports of these ICE raids have spread fear throughout immigrant communities. In light of these fears, it is important for immigrants, their families, and advocates to know the facts about these current ICE raids and of what rights immigrants have when ICE comes knocking.

  1. ICE Raids are Focusing  on “Recent Entry” Undocumented Immigrants
According to Secretary Johnson’s statements, the focus of the current ICE raids are: adults and their children who (i) were apprehended after May 1, 2014 crossing the southern border illegally, (ii) have been issued final orders of removal by an immigration court, and (iii) have exhausted appropriate legal remedies, and have no outstanding appeal or claim for asylum or other humanitarian relief under our laws. In other words, those who entered the United States after May 2014, were apprehended at the border, and who were either ordered removed (or “deported”) by an immigration judge or who failed to appear to an immigration court date (which, in immigration court, automatically results in a removal order) are the targets of these recent raids. Immigrants with legal status, or undocumented immigrants who have been present in the United States for several years, or those who recently entered the U.S.  but have cases currently pending before the court or on appeal should not fear raids by ICE. It is important to keep in mind, however, that under the current DHS Priority Memorandum, any undocumented immigrant with a felony conviction, or more than two (2) misdemeanor convictions, or who entered the U.S. after January 1, 2014, or who was ordered removed after January 1, 2014, is also a priority for ICE removal.
  1. Subjects of ICE Raids have Rights
It is very important to know that even those who are subject to the current ICE raids have rights under U.S. law. First, the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. constitution protects anyone in the U.S. –regardless of their citizenship or immigration status—from “unreasonable search and seizure.” This means that ICE cannot enter your home or arrest you without a warrant. The standard DHS Form I-200 “Warrant For Arrest of Alien” or Form I-205 “Warrant for Removal/Deportation” authorizes an ICE agent to take into custody and/or deport the individual named on the form. It does not give an ICE agent the authority to enter a home without permission. To perform a search of one’s home without the occupant’s permission, ICE needs to have a “judicial warrant,” or a court order signed by a judge granting them such permission—not simply an agency form. If ICE knocks on your door you do not need to let them in your home if they do not have a judicial warrant. If they enter without your permission that unlawful act may be grounds to fight your case. Furthermore, everyone in the U.S. is protected by the Constitution’s Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, which means you do not need to speak to ICE or respond to any of their questions. You do not even need to tell them your name. You do not need to tell them what country you are from. You do not need to tell them anything. The only thing one should say to ICE is: “I am using my right to remain silent. I want to talk to a lawyer.”
  1. Subjects of ICE Raids may have Legal Options
Even those who have final removal orders may have options available to fight their deportation.  An order of removal can be challenged on grounds of lack of notice of the date and location of the hearing, failure on the part of your attorney to adequately represent you, and other arguments. Additionally, if you fear you will be persecuted in your country of origin you may be able to assert a claim under U.S. asylum laws even after you have been ordered removed. Minors who are victims of abuse, abandonment, or neglect may still seek protection in the U.S. after a removal order. Your deportation order may be stayed—or postponed—while you pursue such legal claims. Families of individuals who have been taken by ICE should contact a competent immigration lawyer to explore potential legal strategies.

The attorneys at Charlotte Immigration Law Firm will continue to monitor the news concerning ICE raids in our area. We welcome questions from those who may be concerned about how these raids may affect them and their family.

This post originally appeared on Charlotte Immigration Law Firm. Reprinted with permission.

About The Author

Benjamin A. Snyder is an associate immigration attorney at Charlotte Immigration Law Firm. Originally from Manassas, Virginia, Mr. Snyder moved to North Carolina in 2003. Mr. Snyder earned his Bachelor of Arts from Guilford College and his Juris Doctor from Elon University School of Law, both in Greensboro, North Carolina. While at Elon, Ben worked in the Humanitarian Immigration Law Clinic, where he received the annual Commitment to Humanitarian Immigration Law Clinic Award in recognition of his exceptional service to clients. At Elon Law, Mr. Snyder also served as President of the Elon Law ACLU, as Co-Director of the Pro Bono Board, and as a Case Manager for the Innocence Project. As a member of the Moot Court Board, Mr. Snyder competed in the American College of Trial Lawyers National Moot Court Competition and wrote the problem and bench brief for the Elon Law 2012 Billings Exum & Frye National Moot Court Competition. In recognition of his student leadership and community service, Mr. Snyder was awarded the 2012 David Gergen Award for Leadership and Professionalism, Elon Law’s highest honor for a graduating student. Prior to joining Charlotte Immigration Law Firm, Mr. Snyder worked at law firms in Greensboro and Charlotte focusing on immigration law. Mr. Snyder’s practice is 100% devoted to immigration law. Mr. Snyder represents clients in all manner of immigration matters, including employment and family based immigration petitions, nonimmigrant visa applications, consular processing, and immigration removal defense. Mr. Snyder is admitted to the North Carolina Bar, the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina, and the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. He is a member of the North Carolina Bar Association and the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.