Confidential ICE Handbook Lays Out Paths for Investigators to Avoid 
Constitutional Challenges
Eoin Higgins

February 23 2018, 9:53 a.m.

When U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents go after suspected 
violators of immigration and customs law, they do whatever they can to get 
consent from their targets. The idea is simple: By getting their targets’ 
consent, ICE agents can avoid the complications that arise from the Fourth 
Amendment’s protections against unreasonable searches and seizures.

Internal policies, laid out in documents reviewed by The Intercept, show how 
the agency’s investigative wing, Homeland Security Investigations, uses a 
complex web of civil and criminal warrants, statutory regulations, and legal 
tactics to effectively operate with as few restrictions as possible across the 

Protecting agents’ work from constitutional challenges is one of the focuses of 
the “HSI Search and Seizure Handbook.” The techniques laid out focus heavily on 
obtaining consent from investigative targets for searches. One method available 
to agents is to issue “ICE warrants,” which do not carry the power of judicial 
warrants, but which immigration lawyers warn can be used to mislead or 
intimidate targets into granting consent for search and seizure.

The handbook was published on Thursday by the independent media outlet Unicorn 
Riot. The August 18, 2010, version of the policy document published is no 
longer in use: A table of contents from the HSI’s 2016 Special Agents Manual 
shows that an updated edition, from 2012, was being used as recently as two 
years ago.

“ICE is known to use deceptive tactics.”
The handbook lays out ICE’s underhanded methods, said immigration lawyers and 
experts contacted by The Intercept, stoking fears that ICE is willing to 
dismiss legal protections in the face of a single-minded drive to detain 
suspects. “ICE is known to use deceptive tactics,” said Azadeh Shahshahani, the 
legal and advocacy director for Atlanta-based immigration organization Project 
South. “These types of practices, bas

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