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Know Your Rights: Immigration and Law Enforcement

Immigration Laws & Rights

This article provides general information about immigrants' rights, including what police officers can and cannot do.

Learn more about your rights as an immigrant, how to reduce risk to yourself, what to do when you encounter law enforcement, and more. 

What are my rights as a non-citizen?

All persons in the United States have rights under the United State Constitution. Regardless of your status in the United States, citizens and non-citizens alike have constitutional protections. 

What if I am stopped by law enforcement or immigration agents?

When talking with law enforcement or immigration agents remember these important practices that will help reduce risk to yourself: 

  • Be polite and remain calm. 

  • Stay silent (do not mention where you were born or how you entered the US). 

  • If you do speak, do not lie, or provide fake documents. 

  • Ask to speak to your lawyer before signing any documents or answering any questions. 

  • Do not run away, argue, resist, or fight the office. 

  • Keep your hands where they can see them and tell them if you need to reach for something. 

  • Record details and names. 

What if a law enforcement officer asks me about my immigration status?

You do not have to answer any questions! The Fifth Amendment gives every person the right to remain silent and to refuse to answer questions from police officers and government agents. This means that you do not have to answer questions about immigration or citizenship status with the police, immigration agents, or other officials. You can remain silent and ask for an attorney. 

Do I need to identify myself to law enforcement?

No. Some states do have laws that can require someone suspected of a crime to disclose their name. However, Texas does not have this law. 

What is a warrant?

A warrant protects people from unlawful arrest, search, and seizures. A warrant allows law enforcement to lawfully search your property or take someone accused of a crime into custody.  

What is a search warrant?

A search warrant allows the police to enter your home and search it or search your property. 

What is an arrest warrant?

An arrest warrant permits the arrest of a specific person on site. An arrest warrant must be signed by a judge, justice of the peace or magistrate. 

Take a look at this arrest warrant and warrant of removal/deportation to see what one may look like. 

Can law enforcement or immigration agents enter my home without a warrant?

They cannot enter your home without a warrant. If an officer comes to your door, do not open it. First, ask if they have a warrant. Ask them to show you the warrant by slipping it under the door. Then check the document for your name and address as well as a signature. If, after inspecting the document, you feel that it is valid, step outside to speak with the officer and close the door—particularly, if others in your home may face immigration problems. 

If the police have an arrest warrant, they are legally allowed to enter the home if the person on the warrant is believed to be inside.  

Note: Officers without a warrant can still enter your home if you “consent” to their entry. For this reason, make sure you do not agree to their entry or do anything that might be seen as consent—such as opening the door. 

Can law enforcement or immigration agents enter my home with a removal/deportation warrant?

An immigration warrant is different than a criminal warrant. A warrant of removal/deportation does not give officers the right to enter a home without consent. Through the closed door say, “This warrant does not give you the right to enter, please leave.” 

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