An elevated view of the University Commons and the Student Union building

Frequently Asked Questions Related to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Officers on Northeastern Illinois University Property

Adapted from the Open Illinois webpage, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, January 2020.

Can Northeastern Illinois University prevent federal immigration enforcement officers from coming on campus or entering campus buildings and other university property?

It depends. As a public university, Northeastern Illinois University is largely open to the general public. Federal immigration enforcement officers may enter areas open to the general public without a warrant.

However, public access is limited in certain areas of NEIU campuses and property. Included in this category of limited access spaces are campus buildings in which access is restricted by University-issued ID card, locked doors or monitored entryways, including the University residence hall. Limited access spaces also include some buildings and spaces that may be unlocked during normal operations, including administrative or faculty offices, classrooms, and laboratories.

It is important to note that ICE or federal officials from the Department of Homeland Security may be on campus for reasons unrelated to enforcement actions. Due to our International Programs, the University is required to report certain information about F-1 or J-1 visa status students to ICE. This reporting is routine, and the University is required to comply with on-site visits to review records when requested.

In what situations can federal immigration enforcement officers enter limited access, nonpublic areas, including the residence hall?

Federal immigration enforcement officers are required to have a criminal arrest or search warrant to lawfully enter limited access, nonpublic areas without consent. Most often, immigration officers who might come to campus would be acting on civil, not criminal, authority, and generally carry administrative warrants. Administrative warrants are not signed by a judge and do not authorize officers to enter limited access areas without consent.

What should staff members do if a federal immigration enforcement officer asks for access to a residence hall or other limited access area?

If a federal immigration enforcement officer asks for access to a residence hall or other limited access area, University employees should inform the immigration officer that University policy requires you to consult University Legal Affairs and General Counsel for assistance. University employees should ask the immigration officer for their name, identification number and agency affiliation. Ask the officer to wait, and immediately call NEIU Police at (773) 442-4100 and notify them of the immigration officer’s presence. Call Legal Counsel at (773) 442-5210 for instructions on responding to the request.

Will the University Police Department work with federal immigration officers to apprehend and remove individuals from campus?

No. The NEIU Police Department (NEIUPD) will not ask anyone about their immigration status, and does not arrest anyone solely on the basis of their immigration status. NEIUPD also does not act on detainers issued by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

The NEIUPD will not enforce a warrant issued by ICE that is solely for an administrative matter, such as residency or immigration status. The NEIUPD will be required to enforce a criminal warrant from any law enforcement agency, including ICE. Criminal warrants are issued when probable cause exists to believe the named subject in the warrant has committed a crime. In other situations not related to immigration, officers may inquire about an individual’s country of origin to notify their consulate of an arrest, but that inquiry does not include questions about immigration status.

NEIU Police Department explains its role in immigration enforcement in Policy 414, page 301 of its Policy Manual. Additionally, Illinois state law prohibits law enforcement from acting on federal detainers or stopping, arresting, or searching an individual based solely on immigration status (5 ILCS 805/-Illinois TRUST Act). As of June 21, 2019, the Keep Illinois Families Together Act (5 ILCS 835) officially prohibits state and local law enforcement in the state of Illinois from entering into 287(g) agreements with ICE.

Can a student refuse to allow a federal immigration enforcement officer to enter a residence hall room?

Yes. A residential hall room is considered a limited access area and cannot be legally accessed by immigration enforcement officers without a valid criminal warrant or the voluntary consent of the occupant. A student need not allow entry to any law enforcement officer who is not in possession of a criminal warrant, regardless of what that officer might say. 

Can federal immigration enforcement officers enter my home/apartment?

Not without a criminal warrant or consent. A student’s rights are the same regardless of whether they live on campus or off campus. A student need not allow entry to any law enforcement officer who is not in possession of a criminal warrant, regardless of what that officer might say.

Individuals have a reasonable expectation of privacy in their homes, both on and off campus. A warrant of removal/deportation (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) warrant) is a civil or administrative warrant and is not signed by a judge. Administrative warrants do not authorize officers to enter a home without consent. If an immigration officer has a civil or administrative warrant, undocumented students have a personal choice whether to grant consent to enter their residence. However, if a law enforcement officer has a criminal search or arrest warrant signed by a judge, the officer does not need consent to enter the apartment or arrest an individual named in the warrant.

In all cases, individuals have the right to remain silent under the 5th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, and do not need to answer questions, or sign or provide any documents without a lawyer present. You can print this know-your-rights card created by the Illinois Coalition by Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR) and carry it with you anywhere you go.

What should staff members do if a federal officer asks for or presents a subpoena for personally identifiable private information or records about a student or employee?

Faculty or staff who receive a request from a federal officer for any information about a student should contact the University Legal Affairs and General Counsel for assistance. Personally identifiable educational and University health records are protected by a variety of privacy laws including the Family Education Rights & Privacy Act (FERPA). As a University employee, you are required to maintain the confidentiality of these records.

If you receive a request for personally identifiable information or records, or if a federal immigration enforcement officer gives you a warrant or subpoena seeking such records, before providing any information, you should confirm that you are authorized to provide access to the specified records or information. Ask the officer for their name, identification number and agency affiliation; ask for a copy of any warrant or subpoena presented, inform the officer that you are not obstructing their process but need to contact Legal Counsel for assistance, and call (773) 442-4210 for instructions on responding to the request. 

How are international students and scholars affected?

International students and scholars are affected differently. According to the Department of Education, the Family Education Rights & Privacy Act (FERPA) permits institutions to comply with information requests from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in order to comply with the requirements of the program. However, the information that can be requested and provided is limited to the categories listed in DHS regulations, and that request must be made to a University Principal Designated School Official (PDSO). For other information, international student records are entitled to the same FERPA protection that otherwise governs student education records in the United States.

If you are not a University PDSO, you should refer any DHS or ICE request for information about an international student to the International Programs located in Lech Walesa Hall, room LWH 0008B, (773) 442-4799, and the Office of Legal Affairs and General Counsel located on the second floor of Building C.

What should I do if I am uncomfortable calling the University Police?

University Police provides additional resources for members of our community who may feel uncomfortable calling or approaching the University Police. Anyone with emergency issues should still call 911, but those with non-emergency safety concerns may also contact these offices:

  • Dean of Students: (773) 442-4610
  • Undocumented Student Resources: (773) 442-4601
  • Student Counseling Services: (773) 442-4650
  • Ombuds Office: (773) 442-4527