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Protecting your constitutional rights during a workplace raid

July 16, 2019 Updated: September 8, 2020

In the United States, every person — whether documented or undocumented — has the constitutional right to remain silent and refuse to answer questions of the police, FBI, or ICE, whether on the street, in a car, or at home.

Under the law, ICE must have proof you are not from the United States to deport you. They can use the following information against you:

  • If you run and ICE catches you
  • If you tell ICE where you were born or that you don’t have papers
  • If you carry false documents
  • If you carry papers from your country

If you are questioned by ICE, you are NOT required to reveal any information, such as your name, address, or home country. If you are questioned or detained, however, it usually is a good idea to give your name so that friends, family, or your attorney can locate you.

What you can do now

The targets of the mass raids are individuals who have been ordered deported.  Any individuals that were issued deportation orders because of failure to appear in court, should contact a reputable immigration lawyer, nonprofit, or immigrant rights organization to help them file a motion to reopen their order of deportation.

  1. Gather and keep important documents in a safe place, make copies, and make them accessible to a trusted person.
  2. Identify reputable immigration, family, and defense lawyers for rapid response. Speak to a family law attorney about the need to sign a power of attorney for the caretaking of children and handling finances.
  3. Obtain travel documentation for all family relatives.
  4. Carry a Know Your Rights card with contact information of reliable attorney and other emergency contacts. Memorize important phone numbers.

If you are stopped by ICE or if ICE comes to your home

DO NOT OPEN THE DOOR if an immigration agent is knocking on the door.

DO NOT ANSWER ANY QUESTIONS from an immigration agent if they try to talk to you. You have the right to remain silent.

DO NOT SIGN ANYTHING without first speaking to a lawyer. You have the right to speak with a lawyer.

If you are outside of your home, ask the agent if you are free to leave and if they say yes, leave calmly.

GIVE THIS CARD TO THE AGENT. If you are inside of your home, show the card through the window or slide it under the door. The cards read:

“I do not wish to speak with you, answer your questions, or sign or hand you any documents based on my 5th Amendment rights under the United States Constitution. I do not give you permission to enter my home based on my 4th Amendment rights under the United States Constitution unless you have a warrant to enter, signed by a judge or magistrate with my name on it that you slide under the door. I do not give you permission to search any of my belongings based on my 4th Amendment rights. I choose to exercise my constitutional rights.”

These cards are available to citizens and noncitizens alike.

During a workplace raid

To report a raid use United We Dream National Raid Hotline 1-854-363-1423 or send a text message to 877877.

  1. ICE must have a judicial warrant (a warrant SIGNED BY A JUDGE) or the employer’s permission to enter the workplace.
  2. ICE can enter a public place without a warrant.
  3. Workers should stay calm.
  4. Workers should not run. Union representatives should not warn workers that immigration has arrived or urge them to run.
  5. A union observer should document (write, not film) events taking place during a raid.
  6. Workers have the right to remain silent.
  7. Workers have the right to an attorney.
  8. Workers have the right to refuse to sign anything without talking to an attorney.
  9. ICE is not supposed to take someone’s fingerprints unless ICE already has a reason to arrest them. Workers should NOT consent to being fingerprinted, and if they are, they should say out loud that they do not agree with being fingerprinted.

If ICE arrests you, you have the right:

  1. To remain silent and refuse to answer questions. Anything you say may be used against you.
  2. To understand the charges against you. If you need an interpreter, ICE must provide one.
  3. To be represented by an attorney (at your own expense) and to receive a list of agencies offering free legal services before answering questions.
  4. To refuse to sign documents, such as for voluntary departure. It is particularly important to consult with an attorney before signing if:
    • You are afraid to return to your home country
    • You have lived in the U.S. for at least 10 years
    • Your family members have amnesty or other papers
    • You already have a pending ICE case
    • You are accused of using false documents
  1. To make a telephone call to an attorney, family member, consulate of your home nation, friend, or the union (memorize their phone numbers).
  2. To be released on bond and to have a hearing to reduce your bond if you cannot afford it.
  3. To have a hearing before an immigration judge and to appeal any adverse decision by the judge. You have the right to stay in the U.S. while you appeal.

How can the UFCW help workers during workplace raids?

The union should enforce employer obligations on issues that affect immigrant members. The union could be liable for failing to represent members if it fails to challenge employer abuse. The union has no reason to determine the immigration status of a worker; unions must represent all workers regardless of status. However, a union representative must not assist a worker in presenting documents that the representative knows are false.

  • The union may request information about and bargain over employer I-9 audits.
    • Request information about the reason for and the scope of the audit, and request copies of any documents the employer received from any government agency.
  • The union may represent workers in reverification of work authorization documents.
    • Employers are only allowed to reverify identity and work authorization documents for expired documents, such as an expired work permit or visa, but not for a lawful permanent resident card with an expiration date. If the reverification is based on the expiration of the employee’s work permit, bargain for an unpaid leave of absence. Object to unlawful reverification of current workers such as non-citizen nationals, lawful permanent residents, refugees, asylees, or individuals with temporary protected status. Weingarten allows a union representative or steward to be present if an employer seeks to meet with a worker regarding employment authorization or other immigration issues. Grieve any adverse actions against workers based on unlawful reverification attempts.
  • If an employer gets a SSN “no-match” letter, the union can remind them that:
    • A “no-match” letter does not provide authority for an employer to terminate, suspend, lay off, or impose other discipline on an employee, and an employer who does may violate federal labor law.
    • The purpose of a “no-match” letter is to notify an employer when a reported employee’s name or social security number does not match Social Security’s records. The SSA has no authority to enforce the immigration laws, and the employer should give employees an opportunity to update their documents and information.
  • Ensure that contracts have provisions that state: “The Company will not discipline, discharge or otherwise act against any worker who is absent from work for up to [NUMBER] days because of arrest, detention or incarceration, and those days will not count against the worker’s time and attendance record.”
  • Engage with employers about immigration enforcement to establish protocols for their interaction with ICE in the workplace. (E.g. confirm that ICE may not enter private property without a warrant signed by a judge.)
  • Train members, stewards, and staff on the basic rights of individuals during an immigration enforcement action, the union’s rapid response plan, and family safety plans.
  • Establish relationships with local community leaders, allies, non-profits, immigrant rights groups, and legal service providers to be in communication during raids and mobilize the community to support workers and families.

Additional Resources

Here is a list of local organizations that can support you and your community if you are impacted by a raid or other immigration enforcement activity:

Baltimore, MD

CASA Hotline 1-855-678-2272

Chicago, IL     

Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights: 1-855-435-7693 (1-855-help-my-family)The Southwest Organizing Project (SWOP): 773-471-8208 ext 120
The Resurrection Project: 312–666-3062
National Immigrant Justice Center: 1-855-435-7693 (1-855-help-my-family)
West Suburban Action Project (Proyecto de Acción de los Suburbios del Oeste): 708-410-2000

Houston, TX

For Families and Their Education (FIEL Houston): 1-713-364-3435

Miami, FL

Americans for Immigrant Justice: (305) 573-1106
Florida Immigrant Coalition (FLIC): (305) 571-7254

New York, NY

New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC): 212-627-2227
Make the Road NY: Brooklyn: 718-418-7690

Queens: 718-565-8500
Staten Island: 718-727-1222
Long Island: 631-231-2200
Westchester: 914-948-8466

BAJI New York, NY — Telephone: (347) 410-5312
New Sanctuary NYC https://www.newsanctuarynyc.org/

Newark, NJ
Make the Road NJ: 908-368-1196

San Francisco, CA
SIREN: Text this number for rapid response: 201-468-6088
SF Rapid Response Network: 415-200-1548
Alameda County Rapid Response: 510-241-4011
San Mateo County Rapid Response: 203-666-4472 (203-NOMIGRA)
Santa Clara Rapid Response: 408-290-1144
Marin County Rapid Response: 415-991-4545

Southern California:
CHIRLA: 888-6CHIRLA (888-624-4752)

Atlanta, GA
Los Vecinos de Buford Highway: 770-715-7200
Asian Americans Advancing Justice: 404-890-5655
Coalicion De Lideres Latinos (CLILA): 706 529 9216
GA Latino Alliance for Human Rights: 770-457-5232

Denver, CO
Colorado Rapid Response Network: 1-844-864-8341
Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition: 303-922-3344

New Orleans, LA
New Orleans Workers’ Center for Racial Justice: Message them on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NOWCRJ/

Washington, DC
DMV Immigration Crisis Hotline 202-335-1183
CASA: 1-855-678-2272

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