Last week President Donald Trump tweeted that Immigration and Custom Enforcement, or ICE, will soon begin “the process of removing” millions of undocumented immigrants from the country. A few days ago Trump postponed this ICE operation. While the threat of possible ICE arrests remains, this is a good time for workers to prepare for possible arrests and detentions — and know their rights.
Here are five key pointers:
1. ICE agents are not allowed to enter private areas of a workplace unless the employer consents or they have a judicial search warrant. ICE agents may not enter private areas — such as the kitchen in a restaurant — without voluntary consent or a judicial search warrant. An ICE warrant or an administrative immigration warrant is not the same thing. Even though only a judge’s search warrant lets agents enter private areas, agents sometimes break the law and enter without consent or the proper warrant. Starting on Jan. 1, 2018, it will be against California law to provide voluntary consent to agents to enter nonpublic areas of a workplace without a judicial search warrant.
- This fact sheet gives more detail about your rights and how to prepare for a potential ICE arrest. Click through to read it in Spanish or Chinese, as well as English.
2. Workers should exercise their rights to remain silent and to ask for an attorney. Workers do not have to answer any of ICE’s questions, and anything they do say can be used against them. Because of this, if ICE tries to speak with a worker, she should tell ICE she will remain silent and wants to speak with an attorney.
3. Workers should not sign any document ICE gives them if they haven’t spoken with an attorney. If ICE tries to force a worker to sign documents, she should say she refuses to sign and wants to speak with an attorney. Workers have the right to refuse to sign a document.
4. Workers or employers may document ICE agents’ actions in their workplace, whether the agents have entered legally or not. Anyone can document what agents do while they’re in a workplace, by taking video, photographs, or notes. If ICE agents entered the workplace without express consent, in addition to documenting their actions, you can continually state that no one consented to the search.
5. Undocumented workers have most of the same legal rights as documented workers. Among these are the rights to a safe workplace, to be free from discrimination and harassment, and to be properly paid for all hours worked. And, starting on July 1, 2018, California law will require employers to notify employees about upcoming federal document inspections and it will prohibit document reverification that is not required by federal law. This post is part of our blog series #YourRightsatWork. Look for links to upcoming posts on Facebook and Twitter using that hashtag. Or find them on the Legal Aid at Work blog. Here are some additional sources of information:
- Legal Aid at Work’s fact sheet on undocumented workers’ rights (in Spanish and Chinese, as well as English)
- Information about your rights when interacting with ICE Alto Trump! — (endorsed by numerous organizations)