You might be one of many immigrants in Kentucky who didn’t have all paperwork in order when you entered the United States. Then again, perhaps you had all the proper documents and have been living and working in the U.S. for a while now but recently encountered legal challenges when your visa expired. Any number of issues can cause legal status problems, which is why it’s important to know what to do if Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers approach you.

Like all law enforcement officers, ICE agents typically need a valid warrant to enter your home. If officers knock on your door and ask to come inside, you may not be obligated to let them if they don’t have a warrant. There are circumstances that would constitute an exception to such rules, however, which is why it’s a good idea to carry contact information with you for legal advocates who can provide immediate support when needed.

Keep these things in mind if ICE approaches you

Many Kentucky immigrants say they signed documents without fully understanding what they were signing but were afraid to get in trouble for noncompliance if they refused. You never have to sign anything you don’t understand. Perhaps you have a language barrier that makes reading English difficult, or you don’t know the definitions of certain words in a document.

If ICE officers interrogate you at your front door, at your place of work or anywhere, you may invoke Fifth Amendment rights to remain silent without benefit of an attorney’s presence. If they take you into custody, it’s all the more critical that you know your rights and how to protect them.

ICE detention can lead to deportation

Especially if there’s a problem with your paperwork, your legal status may immediately be at risk if ICE places you in detention. Detention centers can be scary places, particularly for those who are separated from their loved ones for a long time. It’s understandable that you’d feel confused, frightened and worried if you are mowing the lawn one day and sitting behind bars in a U.S. immigration detention facility the next.

It’s always best to try to cooperate and to be polite if an ICE officer approaches your door. You must decide if you will step outside and close the door behind you, saying you do not consent to anyone entering your home, or if you will allow them to enter. There is no way to predict the ultimate outcome of such situations, but your chances of obtaining a positive outcome are best if you have a strong support network in place from the start.