We live in a turbulent time. The law is constantly changing and the immigrant community continuously receives conflicting information about what to do if they are stopped by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the FBI, or Police.
Situations differ if you are stopped in your car or approached at home, and by whom.
If You Are EVER Asked About Your Immigration Status
Remember, you always have the right to remain silent. You are not required to answer questions that deal with where you were born, whether you have legal status, and how you entered the country. Yet, there are separate rules that apply if you are asked these questions at international borders and airports.
Please do not lie about your citizenship status nor provide fraudulent documents. These can have serious immigration consequences in the future.
If you do have valid immigration papers, you should furnish them.
If a Government Agency Comes to Your Home
You are not required to let them in. Presently, ICE has been reported to show up at homes and vaguely announce themselves as "police." Always check for identification. If they request to enter your home, check to see if they have a signed warrant by a judge.
Despite having a warrant, you are still not obligated to speak to government agents. You have the right to an attorney. You may remind the government agents of your right to remain silent and your right to an attorney if they press you.
If You're Taken Into ICE Custody (Immigration Custody)
Again, you have the right to an attorney, yet the government will not provide you with one. This is different for low-income in criminal custody. Thus, you will have to find your own counsel. You can ask for a list of free or low-cost attorney agencies from ICE. Unfortunately, there truly is no public defender equivalent for immigration cases.
Never sign anything you do not understand. ICE will often furnish voluntary departure documents or stipulations for removal without giving you the chance to translate the documents or speaking to a lawyer. If you sign such documents, you may be forfeiting your opportunity to stay in the United States.
If Your Rights Have Been Violated (or You Think They Have been)
Write down everything. Take down the officers' name, their patrol car number, their badge number and which agency they were from. Always communicate with witnesses and take down their contact information. Take photos of injuries or the damage that occurred. You can use this information and furnish it to your attorney, file a civilian complaint with the agency's board, and/or submit a written complaint with the agency's internal affairs division. In most instances, anonymous complaints are permitted as well.
This article does not include all permutations of government agencies interactions with immigrants. Furthermore, this blog is not intended as legal advice and some state laws and checkpoint entries laws may differ.
The ACLU also offers wonderful resources in different languages. Please click here for Spanish, Farsi, Arabic, and more.
Need Counsel for Immigration? Call Today!
Immigration law can be complicated and this article does not cover all the issues regarding the O-1 Visa. These cases can be extremely complex, and a single misstep could potentially lead to a deportation or other immigration penalties. If you have any questions regarding your immigration case, please do not hesitate to contact our office.
Call our law firm to consult with an immigration attorney today at: (949) 285-1836