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Provider Education: State of the Law

The rhetoric of the Trump administration, the executive orders about immigration, and the increase in ICE raids makes it critical that frontline providers know their rights and their patients' rights.  


By knowing the limits of law enforcement's power, we can better protect our patients, their communities, and ourselves.  Below is a brief summary of the ways the law protects us and the ways we are vulnerable.


1) The 4th Amendment still protects people against unreasonable search and seizure. This limits the power of law and immigration enforcement.

2) Both ICE and CBP are still have policies to avoid conducting immigration enforcement actions at sensitive locations, including all health care facilities.

3) Warrants or consent are still required for disclosure of information or entering a private area, including areas within a health care facility designated as 'private.'

4) Everyone has the right to remain silent.


1) The 4th Amendment does NOT protect against "reasonable" searches. 'Reasonable' is determined by the subjective and objective expectation of privacy.

2) Clinic areas that are seen as public are subject to law enforcement presence without a warrant or consent.  In these areas, they can question anyone, but everyone can remain silent.

3) Law enforcement CAN search private areas if they have "probable cause" to suspect past, present, or future unlawful activity.

4) Anything that is in "plain sight" or "plain hearing" in a public area is fair game. 

More Information:

Healthcare, Immigrants, & The Law 

National Immigration Law Center (NILC)

Webinar: Protecting Your Immigrant Patients' Access To Health Care (April 24, 2017)

Powerpoint slides from an excellent NILC webinar overview of some basics, the current landscape, legal rights, and how to create safe spaces.

National Immigration Law Center (NILC)

Health Care Providers & Immigration Enforcement (April 2017)

A detailed, highly informative fact sheet of the protections afforded by the law and suggestions on how to best protect patients in health care settings.

The Facts We Know

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