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Immigrants' Rights When Law Enforcement Approaches

Immigration Laws & Rights

You have rights when you are approached by a law enforcement officer or ICE agent—no matter what your immigration status is. This guide offers tips for asserting your rights.
Overview

Guide Overview

This guide from Catholic Charities explains immigrants' rights when law enforcement officers or ICE agents approach them. 

Research Tips

Check the "research tips" section of the Asylum Guide, and: 

Common questions about Immigration Laws & Rights

If you are approached by a law enforcement officer or ICE agent in the street, a public area, or the workplace, here are rules to follow

  1. Do not run.
  2. Before saying anything, ask, “Am I free to go?”
  3. You have the right to remain silent.
  4. If you are searched, say “I do not consent to this search."
  5. If you are in an airport or near the United States border, you may be questioned or detained without a warrant. You still have the right to remain silent.

A warrant of removal/deportation (immigration warrant) does not give an officer the right to enter your home. 

You can say: “You do not have the right to enter my home with this warrant. Please leave.”

If officers enter your home:

  1. Tell them if there are children, elderly, or sick people in the house.
  2. Say that you do not consent!
  3. Pay attention to where the officers search
  4. Write down what happened as soon as they have left.
  1. You must provide your license, registration, and proof of insurance.
  2. Do NOT lie or provide false documents.
  3. If officers want to search your car or start searching your car, say “I do not consent to a search.”
  4. You have the right to remain silent.
  1. DO NOT RUN.
  2. Ask if you are free to leave. If you are, leave slowly.
  3. Do not open the door, this could give permission to the officers to enter.
  4. You have the right to remain silent.

Arrest, charges, and convictions can affect your immigration status.

  1. You have the right to remain silent.
  2. You have the right to a phone call.
  3. You have the right to an attorney.
  4. Do not discuss your immigration information with anyone other than your attorney.
  5. You have the right to refuse to sign anything before speaking with your attorney.
  1. You have the right to remain silent.
  2. You have the right to a phone call.
  3. You have the right to call your consulate.
  4. You have the right to speak to an attorney. But you do not have the right to be represented by an attorney provided by the government.
  5. Do not discuss your immigration information with anyone other than your attorney.
  6. You have the right to refuse to sign anything before speaking with your attorney.
  7. Request a copy of all documents in your case, including your Notice to Appear (NTA).

Having a plan will help protect you and your co-workers.

  • Make sure everyone knows their rights.
  • Make sure everyone knows the plan.
  • Elect at least one workplace representative.
  • If you are a member of a union, speak to your representative.

Instructions & Forms

Checklist Steps

Before you say anything, including your name, ask, “Am I free to go?”

If the officer says yes, walk away slowly. If they say no, do not walk away. Additionally, if the officer says no, you may ask them, “Am I under arrest?” If you are not under arrest, walk away slowly. If you are under arrest, do not try to leave.

In some states, the law says that you must tell the police your name if they ask.

You have the right to remain silent. Do not provide any information about your immigration status, where you were born, or how/when you came to the United States. Do not show any documents from your home country. Say out loud if you wish to remain silent or show the officer your Know Your Rights card.

If the officer searches you, arrests, or detains you, remain calm. Do not resist or fight. If you are searched, say, “I do not consent to this search.”

Checklist Steps

  • The phone number or your attorney or accredited immigration representative
  • The phone number of your consulate
  • The phone numbers of family members
  • Your Alien Registration Number / A# (the number on your immigration documents)
  • Your immigration status when you entered the United States
  • Your current immigration status
  • Your date of entry into the United States
  • Your criminal history

Checklist Steps

To be valid, a search warrant:

  • Must be signed by a judge, justice of the peace, or magistrate
  • Must contain the address of the home to be searched. 
  • Must describe the area to be searched.

Tip: If officers enter your home, say, "I do not consent to you searching my home."

To be valid, an arrest warrant:

  • Must be signed by a judge, justice of the peace, or magistrate
  • Must state the name of the person to be arrested
  • Must describe the person to be arrested.

A warrant of removal/deportation (immigration warrant) does not give an officer the right to enter your home. 

Checklist Steps

You can say: “You do not have the right to enter my home with this warrant. Please leave.”

  1. Tell them if there are children, elderly, or sick people in the house.
  2. Say that you do not consent!
  1. Pay attention to where the officers search
  2. Write down what happened as soon as they have left.

Articles in this guide