The constitutional protections of due process and equal protection apply to everyone in the United States, including non-citizens- even those not here lawfully. Know your rights and preserve them!

If you are questioned about your immigration status: 

  • You have the right to remain silent and do not have to discuss your immigration or citizenship status with police, immigration agents or any other officials. 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.)
  • If you are not a U.S. citizen and an immigration agent requests your immigration papers, you must show them if you have them with you. If you are over 18, carry your immigration documents with you at all times. If you do not have immigration papers, say you want to remain silent.
  • Do not lie about your citizenship status or provide fake documents.

If the police or immigration agents come to your home:

  • If the police or immigration agents come to your home, you do not have to let them in unless they have certain kinds of warrants.
  • Ask the officer to slip the warrant under the door or hold it up to the window so you can inspect it. A search warrant allows police to enter the address listed on the warrant, but officers can only search the areas and for the items listed. An arrest warrant allows police to enter the home of the person listed on the warrant if they believe the person is inside. A warrant of removal/deportation (ICE warrant) does not allow officers to enter a home without consent.
  • Even if officers have a warrant, you have the right to remain silent. If you choose to speak to the officers, step outside and close the door.

If you are arrested:

  • Do not resist arrest, even if you believe the arrest is unfair.
  • 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.
  • You have the right to make a local phone call. The police cannot listen if you call a lawyer.
  • Prepare yourself and your family in case you are arrested. Memorize the phone numbers of your family and your lawyer. Make emergency plans if you have children or take medication.

Special considerations for non-citizens:

  • 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 are taken into Immigration ("ICE") custody:

  • You have the right to a lawyer, but the government does not have to provide one for you. If you do not have a lawyer, ask for a list of free or low-cost legal services.
  • You have the right to contact your consulate or have an officer inform the consulate of your arrest.
  • Tell the ICE agent you wish to remain silent. Do not discuss your immigration status with anyone but your lawyer.
  • Do not sign anything, such as a voluntary departure or stipulated removal, without talking to a lawyer. If you sign, you may be giving up your opportunity to try to stay in the U.S.
  • 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.

 

Note: Some state laws may vary. Separate rules apply at checkpoints and when entering the U.S. (including at airports).

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