26 Feb

Under the current administration, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrests increased by 30 percent in the 2017 fiscal year. On January 25, 2017, the president signed an executive order widening ICE’s focus to most immigrants in the United States, regardless of criminal activity or lack thereof. While Pittsburgh is not known as a hotbed of ICE activity, it is a fact that our city has been making national headlines for its immigrant population. Just a month ago, ICE officials carried out a targeted raid at Oakland’s Union Grill. Pittsburgh enjoys the status that comes with being “America’s Most Livable City” but still offers no substantial livability for immigrants, undocumented or otherwise. Mayor Peduto wants to increase the city’s population by 20,000 people and has cited the importance of community that is “supportive of all people” for attracting businesses that will improve the local economy, and yet, Pittsburgh still operates as “almost a sanctuary city.” The complete lack of legislation establishing Pittsburgh as a “Fourth Amendment” city, doesn’t lend itself to a very welcoming environment.

In light of these recent arrests, it felt prudent to share the American Civil Liberties Union’s (ACLU) guide for what to do when ICE knocks on your door.


  1. Do remain calm.
  2. Do Not open the door. Regardless of documentation, you have rights.
  3. Do ask why there are here. (You can request an interpreter if you need one.)
  4. Do ask if they have a warrant signed by a judge. Only a court/judge warrant is enough for entry into your premises. One issued by DHS or ICE and signed by a DHS or ICE employee is not. Ask to see the warrant through the window or door.
  5. Do Not open the door if they don’t have a warrant or one issued by DHS or ICE. Do ask them to leave any information at the door.
  6. If they force their way in, Do Not resist. Do keep everyone inside silent after stating, “I do not consent to your entry or to your search of these premises. I am exercising my right to remain silent. I wish to speak with a lawyer as soon as possible.”
  7. If you are arrested, Do remain silent and Do Not sign anything until you have spoken to a lawyer.

In EnglishArabicSpanish, and other languages.


ACLU of Pennsylvania

Executive Director: Reggie Shuford


P.O. Box 60173

Philadelphia, PA 19102

United States

(215) 592-1513



ACLU of Greater Pittsburgh


P.O. Box 23058

Pittsburgh, PA 15222

(412) 681-7736

(877) PGH-ACLU



Note: At the time of publication, the information regarding Dan Gilman’s bill proposals to City Council was current. At this time, some of the referenced legislation has changed, or is changing to better reflect the mayor’s goals.

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Adrie Fells

Adrie is a Central PA native and a diehard Steelers fan. She finished a degree in Social Sciences with a concentration in Communications and moved to South Florida. After finishing a service year with City Year Miami, she decided to return to a city she loves. She is enrolled at Duquesne University and hopes to finish in 2020. When she's not watching the Steelers, Pirates, or Penguins play, you can find Adrie buried in a book or enjoying the views the city has to offer.
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