New Sanctuary Coalition

Keeping families together and advocating against deportations

Handling Law Enforcement

Avoid Law Enforcement Encounters

ICE looks for detainees’ information in the system, including criminal records. Even in a sanctuary city, your information will end up being shared once it is in the database. It is important that we avoid all violence and nurture the mindset to prevent, protect and stop domestic violence, drug abuse and trauma / psychological distress in our communities.

If you are undocumented and come into contact with ICE you will likely end up in removal proceedings. Avoid encounters with ICE.

  • Do not get involved in legal trouble or disputes
  • Do not drive without a license
  • Do not travel outside of your state, as much as possible
  • Do not open your door to strangers
  • Stay alert and take note of unknown vehicles and strange activity in your area

In case you do encounter Law Enforcement Agents, see section below on Police/FBI.

If you encounter the POLICE/FBI


If the Police or FBI question you then you have the right to remain silent. It’s not a crime to refuse to answer questions, but refusing to answer might make the police/FBI suspicious about you. You can’t be arrested for refusing to identify yourself on the street, but if you are stopped while driving a vehicle, you must show your license and registration. You do not have to talk to anyone even if you’ve been arrested, or even if you are in jail, especially without a lawyer present. Only a judge can order you to answer questions.

Your right to talk to a lawyer before you answer questions. 

Once you say you want to talk to a lawyer, officers should stop asking you questions. If you decide to speak with a law enforcement officer, you have the right to have a lawyer present. If you do not have a lawyer present, you may still tell the officer you want to speak to a lawyer before answering questions. 

If you do not have a lawyer, you may still tell the officer you want to speak to a lawyer before answering questions. 

If you do have a lawyer, keep his or her business card close by. Show it to the officer, and ask to call your lawyer. 

It is very important to get the name, agency, and telephone number of any investigator who visits you, and give that information to your lawyer.


Police or other law enforcement agents cannot search your home/apartment/office unless:

  • they have a search warrant,(hyperlink to info about search warrant) or
  • you consent to the search.  Your roommate or guest can legally consent to a search of your house if the police believe that the person has the authority to give consent.

In the event you are arrested at home, agents can search the area nearby but not your entire house without a search warrant describing in detail the places to be searched and the people or things to be seized.

Q: What if agents have a search warrant?
A: You have the right to see the warrant. The warrant must tell in detail the places to be searched and the people or things to be seized. If the police have a warrant, you cannot stop them from entering and searching, but you can and should tell them to search only where the warrant authorizes. Ask if you are allowed to watch the search; if you are allowed to, you should. You should take notes including names, badge numbers, and what agency the officers are from. If others are present, have them act as witnesses. Give the information from you and your witnesses to your lawyer.
Q: Do I have to answer questions if the police have a search warrant?
A: No. You may be asked questions before, during, or after the search. A search warrant does not mean you have to answer questions.
Q: What if agents do not have a search warrant?
A: You do not have to let the police search your home, and you do not have to answer their questions. Your refusal to answer questions or let them search without a warrant cannot be used by the police to get a warrant to arrest you or to search your home or office.
Q: What if agents do not have a search warrant, but insist on searching my home even after I object?
A: Do not physically interfere with or obstruct the search or you may be arrested, even if the search is illegal. Try to have a witness there to show that you did not give consent, and to get the names and badge numbers of the searching officers. If the search is later found to be illegal, any evidence found during that search will not be admissible in a criminal case.
Q: What if I speak to the police anyway?
A: Anything you say to the police can be used against you and others. Keep in mind that lying to the government is a crime.


Encountering the Police at a Protest or Elsewhere


Stay calm and be polite, don’t run or resist or obstruct police, keep your hands visible. You have the right to remain silent. You can calmly say: “I am going to use my right to remain silent.” If asked, you are required in New York to provide your name but you are NOT required to provide an ID. Do not give false information or documents. You have the right to refuse a search. If you are not arrested, you have the right to leave. Ask if you are free to leave. If yes, walk away calmly. 

If the police say you are not under arrest, but are not free to go, then you are being “detained.” Being detained does not necessarily mean you will be arrested. The police can pat down the outside of your clothing if they have reason to suspect you might be armed and dangerous. If they search any more than this, say clearly, “I do not consent to a search.” They may keep searching anyway. You do not need to answer any questions if you are detained or even if you are arrested.

If arrested, request a lawyer immediately; do not say or sign anything until a lawyer is present. 


What to do if the Police ask about your immigration status:


Stay calm and do not give false information. You have the right to remain silent. You do not have to answer questions about your status. You can say: “I am going to use my right to remain silent.” 


New Sanctuary Coalition

239 Thompson St.

New York, NY 10012