North Charleston officials say agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement have not been given special authorization to enter residences without a warrant.
That's what's been claimed in a crop of flyers police have labeled bogus that began popping up Tuesday night in various neighborhoods around the city.
The pamphlets read: "The city of N. charleston has authorized ICE or immigration and customs enforcement to search with out a Warrant in any house hold. so if a ICE officer knock on your door you have no right to say no."
The flyers, which carried the ICE seal, also included a loose translation of the same message in Spanish and were "signed" by an individual presenting themselves as an ICE officer.
North Charleston police said Wednesday it received numerous reports about the flyers and confirmed the department and federal officials were not involved in their production.
Karley Ash, a North Charleston Police Department spokeswoman, said the Department of Homeland Security and the Charleston County Sheriff's Office were assisting in the investigation to determine the pamphlets' source.
It was not immediately clear how many flyers were distributed or which neighborhoods, besides the Sanders area, may have been targeted.
North Charleston officials — and the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protecting against unreasonable search and seizures — advised that, in general, no law enforcement entity can legally enter a residence against someone's will without a warrant signed by a state or federal judge.
Nina Cano, a Charleston-based immigration attorney, also pointed out that foreign nationals are generally afforded the same constitutional protections as U.S. citizens.
"Upon seeing these flyers, it was pretty obvious that they were false and not communications from ICE," she said.
Cano said she first received messages from concerned residents who live in the area of Dunlap Street, which is in the Sanders neighborhood. Though it remains unclear who made the flyers, Cano said the messaging is clear. These were materials that were intended to make those who are undocumented, or may have undocumented loved ones, afraid, she said.