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US immigration law: Must you allow officers into your home?

Many Florida residents have been surprised by unexpected visits from law enforcement officers to their homes. Such residents who also happen to be immigrants may worry that such visits are related to U.S. immigration law, especially if the officers are from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. It is critical for citizens and noncitizens alike to know their rights and how to protect them.

If an immigration or police officer knocks on a private resident's door, he or she is not necessarily legally obligated to allow the officer inside. In fact, any man or woman concerned in such circumstances may simply step outside the home, closing the door behind. He or she also may request to see a search warrant signed by a judge if the law enforcement official asks to have a look around inside the home.

Answering questions is something that often gets immigrants and nonimmigrants into legal trouble. By law, a person does not have to answer questions from police or U.S. immigration officers without benefit of legal representation. Such rights are protected under the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

If a U.S. immigration law officer has a warrant for arrest or police prove they have obtained proper permission to search a residence, it is always best to cooperate as much as possible. However, if a man or woman in Florida believes the officials' actions violate his or her legal rights, an attorney can help. A first logical step toward any defense is to request a consultation with an experienced immigration law attorney.

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