ICE Checkpoints – Myths vs Facts

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ICE Checkpoints – Myths vs Facts

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On Tuesday, May 28, 2019, a Facebook post was being shared that claimed an ICE Checkpoint had been set up in southwest Denver. Similar stories of ICE Checkpoints in Colorado have been shared with more frequency over the past few years, and when you or someone you know is undocumented or unsure of your rights, these rumors can cause fear and anxiety.

However, there is no legal authority for ICE to set up checkpoints like this in Colorado. ICE, or more accurately Customs and Border Protection (CBP) does have legal authority to set up immigration-related checkpoints inside the U.S., but only within a 100-mile radius of a border. This radius does not touch Colorado, thus there is no legal authority for immigration checkpoints within the state.

Officers with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) may be spotted on roadways for targeted enforcement, meaning when the officers have a specific individual or group they are targeting for arrest. Additionally, DHS works with other federal agencies for non-immigration-related law enforcement. For example, DHS officers worked with the DEA last week in a large marijuana enforcement operation where 42 people were arrested. In instances such as this, it is possible for individuals to spot officers with “DHS” or “ICE” on their uniforms without the action involving immigration.

Keeping in mind that CBP does not set up immigration checkpoints in Colorado, it is important to know your rights and duties when you are approached by an ICE or CBP officer, either at a checkpoint closer to the border or at a targeted stop.

  • You have the right to remain silent (though you may be questioned longer or subject to secondary inspection)
  • It is illegal for law enforcement officers to perform stops or searches based on your race or ethnicity
  • The officer should have reasonable suspicion or a warrant signed by a judge in order to arrest you
  • The officer needs probable cause or a warrant signed by a judge in order to search you or your belongings
  • If you have valid immigration documents and are not a U.S. citizen, you are required to carry your documents with you
  • You should never claim to be a U.S. citizen if you are not one, and you should never provide false immigration documents to an immigration officer
  • If you are approached on the street and are not under arrest or subject to probable cause, you do not have to answer questions or provide identification documents
  • If immigration officers come to your door, you do not have to let them in or speak with them unless they have a warrant signed by a judge (though if you have filed an application for a benefit with USCIS, it is possible for USCIS officers to come to your home for a home visit, in which case denying entry could lead to the denial of your application)

If you have additional questions about your rights or duties related to your immigration status, or if you would like to explore your immigration options, contact Joseph & Hall P.C. for a consultation with one of our attorneys.

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