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Immigration: The Changing Face of America: Know Your Rights

Your Rights

  1. You have the right to remain silent, If you wish to exercise that right, say so out loud.
  2. You have the right to refuse to consent to a search of yourself, your car, or your home.
  3. If you are not under arrest, you have the right to calmly leave.
  4. You have the right to a lawyer if you are arrested, ask for one immediately.
  5. Regardless of your immigration or citizenship status, you have constitutional rights.

What to do if you are asked about your immigration status


  1. You do not have to discuss your immigration status or citizenship with law enforcement agents.
  2. You do not have to answer questions about...WHERE YOU WERE BORN, HOW YOU ENTERED THE COUNTRY, or WHETHER YOU ARE A U.S. CITIZEN
  3. NOTE: that there are separate rules if you are at an airport, international border, or any port of entry for individuals with tourist visas, travelers and non-immigrant visas. 
  4. If you are NOT a U.S. Citizen and an immigration agent requests your immigration papers, You MUST present them if you have them with you. 
  5. If you are over the age of 18, you must carry your immigration documents with you at all times.
  6. If you do not have immigration papers, SAY THAT YOU WISH TO REMAIN SILENT.
  7. DO NOT: lie about your citizenship status, or provide false documents. 

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Your Responsibilities

  1. Do stay calm and be polite.
  2. Do not interfere or obstruct the police.
  3. Do not lie or give false documents.
  4. Do prepare yourself and your family if you are arrested.
  5. Do remember the details of the encounter.
  6. Do file a written complaint or call your local ACLU if you feel your rights have been violated.

Rules to Follow


Don't Run, Don't Argue, Resist or Obstruct the police, Even if you are innocent and the police are violating your rights.

Keep your hands where the police can see them.



If the officer says yes, calmly and silently walk away.

If you are under arrest, you have the right to know why.



You cannot be punished for refusing to answer questions

If you wish to remain silent, tell the officer out loud.

You are required to give your real name if asked to identify yourself.



Of yourself or your belongings, but police may "PAT DOWN" your clothing if they suspect a weapon.

You SHOULD NOT resist, but you have the right to refuse consent to any other further search.

If you do consent, IT CAN affect you later in court.



Ask to speak to your lawyer immediately, if you do not have a lawyer the government can provide you with a list of free or low cost legal services.

Do not discuss your immigration status with (ANYONE) other than your lawyer

Ask your lawyer about the effect of a conviction or a plea on your immigration status

While you are in jail, an immigration agent may visit you, Do Not answer any questions or sign any documents such as a voluntary departure or stipulated removal without speaking to your lawyer. If you sign, you may be giving up your right and opportunity to remain in the U.S.

If you do not have a lawyer, read all the documents carefully, if you cannot read or understand English, tell the officer you need an interpreter that is NOT an ICE officer.

Remember your A-NUMBER, this is the number that will be assigned to you and is listed on the Notice to Appear document. Provide this number to your family members and attorney. This number will help family members locate you.


Have an Emergency Plan

If you are undocumented and residing within the United States it is important that you have a plan in place in the event that you are arrested, detained or ordered deported.

  1. Hire an attorney. Talk to him or her about your immigration status and what options you may have to stay in the country legally.
  2. Know where your country’s consulate is in the United States.
  3. Memorize the telephone number of the consulate, because you have the right to contact your consulate if you are arrested.
  4. Memorize the telephone numbers for your family members and for your lawyer.
  5. If you are arrested and taken to jail, you will not have access to your wallet, cell phone, or other belongings.
  6. You will have the right to make a collect call to a land line to inform your family of your whereabouts.
  7. Make an emergency plan. Make arrangements for someone to take care of your children in case you are arrested or deported.
  8. Make sure you have a trustworthy person to take responsibility of your property and finances.
  9. If you are taking prescription medication, you should know the name and dose of the medication and the name and telephone number of your doctor.

Rules to follow if stopped in your car

  1. Stop the car in a safe place as quickly as possible
  2. Turn off the car and turn on the internal light if it is dark.
  3. Roll down the window part way and put both hands on the steering wheel.
  4. Upon Request, Show the police officer your driver's license, vehicle registration and proof of insurance.
  5. If the officer and/or immigration agent asks to search your car, you can refuse to consent to the search, however, if they believe there may be evidence of a crime, your car can be searched without your consent.
  6. BOTH the driver and the passenger have the right to remain silent.
  7. If you are the passenger, you can ask if you are free to leave. If the officer says yes, sit silently or calmly leave. If the officer says no, you still have the right to remain silent. 


Rules to follow if police or ICE come to your home

  1. If the police come to your home, YOU DO NOT have to let them in UNLESS they have in their possession a Warrant.
  2. Ask the officer to slip it under your door or hold it up to the window so you can inspect it. 
  3. A search warrant allows the police officer to enter the address listed on the warrant and only search areas and items listed on the warrant. 
  4. An ICE warrant (An order of Removal/ Deportation) DOES NOT allow officers to enter the home without your consent. 
  5. Even if the officers have a warrant, you have the right to remain silent. If you choose to speak to the officer, step outside and close the door.