How to Be Prepared for an Immigration Raid

How to Be Prepared for an Immigration Raid

Last updated JULY 2019

Given increased enforcement activity in recent years by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), it is important that immigrant rights advocates and local communities be prepared in the event of a raid. Before ICE conducts a raid, immigrants’ advocates should:

Prepare individuals in the community so they know they should …

Remain silent, or tell the ICE agent that they want to remain silent.

  • Sometimes it’s easier to show a card asserting the right to remain silent. People can do this by carrying a know-your-rights card and showing it to ICE. (See the rights cards, available in various languages, downloadable from

Ask to speak with a lawyer. They should not answer any questions before speaking with a lawyer.

  • Find out the name and phone number of a reliable immigration attorney, and keep this information with them at all times.
  • Not sign any documents without first speaking with a lawyer.

Not carry false or fake documents.

Know their “alien registration number” (“A” number) if they have one, and write it down someplace at home where their family members know where to find it.

Gather other important documents (birth certificates, marriage certificate, etc.) and keep them in a safe place that someone else can access if the person is arrested.

Prepare a form or document that authorizes another adult to care for their minor children.

Prepare immigrants’ rights advocates and community groups

Distribute to unions, workers, and community groups know-your-rights materials about what to do if raids occur or individuals are detained. (Links to know-your-rights materials are available from

Help people who could be detained to practice, through role-playing, the best ways of responding to questioning by ICE agents.

Advise people not to sign any documents or allow ICE agents to coerce them into signing documents agreeing to their deportation.

Be prepared to document all the facts about a raid, including any and all actions taken by ICE agents that may be unlawful, the names and badge numbers of ICE agents, and the names and dates of birth of detained immigrants.

Obtain contact information (e.g., phone numbers) for foreign consulates in your area.

Obtain contact information, including the phone number, of the local ICE detention center.

Find out where to obtain contact information for other detention centers in case detained people are transferred out of your local area. (ICE provides an online “Detention Facility Locator” at

With respect to spreading information via the media:

  • Establish relationships with the local media in advance to increase the likelihood that the public will be alerted immediately when a raid is happening.
  • Consider writing know-your-rights articles in local community newspapers or sharing the information on social media.

With respect to educating and informing local community leaders and elected officials:

  • Establish relationships with local elected officials and community leaders so you can be in communication with them during a raid and the community can mobilize to support affected people and their families.
  • Conduct know-your-rights presentations for community members and people who work with impacted community members, such as teachers, faith-based institutions, and health clinics.

Develop a rapid-response team comprised of concerned community members, advocates, and attorneys

There are raids rapid-response networks across the country. You can find a list of national and regional raids-response hotline numbers at

Raids rapid response teams can play a crucial role in documenting a raid, speaking to witnesses, locating people who are arrested, and highlighting the issue publicly. These teams can verify whether an ICE raid is, in fact, happening, as unverified reports of ICE presence can increase panic and fear.

The rapid response legal team should include attorneys who specialize in immigration, criminal, and family law who will gather facts about the raid, help locate and represent individuals whom ICE has detained, and assist with caring for minor children whose parents are detained.

  • When creating this team, advocates should also establish relationships with other attorneys who have constitutional, criminal, and family law experience — in case ICE violates individuals’ civil liberties during the raids, or the government files criminal charges against detainees, or detainees have minor children.
  • Advocates should also identify local immigration lawyers who would be available to represent detained individuals.
  • A well-organized team that includes members from the media, the community’s leadership, trained first responders, and attorneys can provide a coordinated response to any immigration raid.