IE Voice Staff |
Everyone has guaranteed rights under the U.S. Constitution regardless of their immigration status. As such, it is important to know what they are and how to express them.
If you are Stopped by the Police or ICE
To reduce risk to yourself, stay calm
- Do not resist or obstruct the agents or officers.
- Do not lie or give false documents.
- Prepare yourself and your family in case you are arrested.
- Memorize the phone numbers of your family and your lawyer.
- Have emergency plans in place if you have children or take medicine
Your rights card here
- You have the right to remain silent. If you wish to exercise that right, say so out loud. (In some states, you may be required to provide your name if asked to identify yourself.)
- You do not have to consent to a search of yourself or your belongings, but police may pat down your clothing if they suspect a weapon.
- If you are arrested by police, you have the right to a government-appointed lawyer.
- If you are detained by ICE, you have the right to consult with a lawyer, but the government is not required to provide one for you. You can ask for a list of free or low-cost alternatives.
- You do not have to answer questions about where you were born, whether you are a U.S. citizen, or how you entered the country. (Separate rules apply at international borders and airports, and for individuals on certain nonimmigrant visas, including tourists and business travelers.)
What to do if you are arrested or detained
- Say you wish to remain silent and ask for a lawyer immediately. Don’t give any explanations or excuses. Don’t say anything, sign anything, or make any decisions without a lawyer.
- If you have been arrested by police, you have the right to make a local phone call. The police cannot listen if you call a lawyer.
- If you have been detained by ICE, you have the right to contact your consulate or have an officer inform the consulate of your detention.
- Remember your immigration number (“A” number) and give it to your family. It will help family members locate you.
- Keep a copy of your immigration documents with someone you trust.
- If you are a non-citizen: Ask your lawyer about the effect of a criminal conviction or plea on your immigration status. Don’t discuss your immigration status with anyone but your lawyer. While you are in jail, an immigration agent may visit you. Do not answer questions or sign anything before talking to a lawyer. Read all papers fully. If you do not understand or cannot read the papers, tell the officer you need an interpreter.
If you believe your rights were violated
- Write down everything you remember, including officers’ badges and patrol car numbers, which agency the officers were from, and any other details. Get contact information for witnesses.
- If you are injured, seek medical attention immediately and take photographs of your injuries.
- File a written complaint with the agency’s internal affairs division or civilian complaint board. In most cases, you can file a complaint anonymously if you wish.
Police or ICE are at your home
How to reduce risk to yourself
- Stay calm and keep the door closed. Opening the door does not give them permission to come inside, but it is safer to speak to ICE through the door.
- You have the right to remain silent, even if officer has a warrant.
- You do not have to let police or immigration agents into your home unless they have certain kinds of warrants.
- If police have an arrest warrant, they are legally allowed to enter the home of the person on the warrant if they believe that person is inside. But a warrant of removal/deportation (Form I-205) does not allow officers to enter a home without consent.
What to do when the police or ICE arrive at your home
- Ask if they are immigration agents and what they are there for.
- Ask the agent or officer to show you a badge or identification through the window or peephole.
- Ask if they have a warrant signed by a judge. If they say they do, ask them to slide it under the door or hold it up to a window so you can inspect it.
- Do nt lie or produce any false documents. Do not sign anything without speaking with a lawyer first.
- Do not open your door unless ICE shows you a judicial search or arrest warrant naming a person in your residence and/or areas to be searched at your address. If they don’t produce a warrant, keep the door closed. State: “I do not consent to your entry.”
- If agents force their way in, do not resist. If you wish to exercise your rights, state: “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.”
- If you are on probation, law enforcement is allowed to enter your home.
Detained while your immigration case is in process
- Most people who are detained while their case is underway are eligible to be released on bond or with other reporting conditions.
- You have the right to call a lawyer or your family if you are detained, and you have the right to be visited by a lawyer in detention.
- You have the right to have your attorney with you at any hearing before an immigration judge
What to do if you are detained
- If you are denied release after being arrested for an immigration violation, ask for a bond hearing before an immigration judge. In many cases, an immigration judge can order that you be released or that your bond be lowered.
Arrested and need to challenge a deportation order
- You have the right to a hearing to challenge a deportation order, unless you waive your right to a hearing, sign something called a “Stipulated Removal Order,” or take “voluntary departure.”
- You have the right to an attorney, but the government does not have to provide one for you. Ask for a list of free or low-cost alternatives. If you have no lawyer, ask the court to allow you time to find one.
What to do if you are arrested
- If you are told that you do not have the right to see an immigration judge, you should speak with a lawyer immediately. There are some cases in which a person might not have a right to see an immigration judge. But even if you are told that is your situation, you should ask to speak to a lawyer immediately because Immigration officers will not always know or tell you about exceptions might apply to you.
- If you fear persecution or torture in your home country, tell an officer and contact a lawyer immediately. You have additional rights if you have this fear.
- If you need more information, contact your local ACLU affiliate.
- National Immigration Law Center: Know Your Rights
- A Toolkit for Organizations Responding to Mass Worksite Immigration Raids
- Immigrant Legal Resource Center
- American Immigration Lawyers Association
- ACLU VIDEO: What to do if stopped by police or ICE
- Here is a list of contact information for legal organizations that assist immigrants.
Sources: ACLU and National Immigration Law Center