If Immigration Authorities Come Knocking, You Have Rights
Undocumented workers encounter numerous challenges on a day-to-day basis. Many times they face the fear of losing their livelihood and worse – separation from their families. The difficult process of not knowing what to do in the face of potential detection by immigration authorities hangs over their heads.
Understand, even if you are not a United States citizen, you still have rights and protections. It’s important to remain well-informed so you can know what to do if you are detained or arrested by U.S. government authorities during an immigration raid.
Here is some important information that may help you access the protections and rights you have regarding your immigration status.
Be prepared for an eventual intrusion by immigration authorities, even though this is not an event you desire to ever face. Taking precautions is important. Contact an immigration attorney or at least a trusted community agency that can provide you with all the information and resources you need in advance.
Remain informed concerning the documents you should carry at all times. In brief, it’s advisable to carry a driver’s license or state ID – both of which do not reveal information about your immigration status or country of origin. Do not carry documentation originating from your country of origin. Very importantly, do not carry false or forged documents on your person.
Consider carrying a card that states your wish to exercise your right to remain silent in the event you are detained and interrogated by immigration officers. You may obtain one of these cards from an immigration rights organization serving your area.
If you are questioned by ICE or law enforcement
If an ICE or police officer questioned you regarding your status, you have the absolute right to remain silent. You usually are not obligated to show the officer any identity documents. Ask the immigration officer if you are being detained or arrested. If the answer is no, you should politely ask the officer if you can leave. If you’re able to leave with the officer’s permission, do so in a calm manner. Do not yell at or hit the officer.
If you are arrested or detained by ICE or law enforcement
Do not resist arrest. Remain silent and call your immigration lawyer immediately. If you don’t have an attorney, call a family member who can take action on your behalf if this is possible. Let the officer know your desire to remain silent and call a lawyer. It’s not necessary to say anything else. Once again, very importantly, do not sign any document or make a decision without your attorney.
If immigration authorities knock on your door
You have the right to refuse entrance to immigration agents or police if they come to your home, unless of course they have a warrant. If they have a warrant, ask the officer to hold it up to the window or slip it under the door so you can examine it.
An ICE warrant involving removal or deportation does not give officers the permission to enter your home without your consent. Officers only have permission to search the specified areas indicated and specific items listed in the warrant. An arrest warrant does allow law enforcement to enter the home of the person listed on the warrant if the officers believe the person is inside.
Your right to remain silent is not affected by the presence of a warrant.
If ICE or immigration authorities take you into custody
If you are detained or arrested, you are not required to say anything to the immigration officials. Present your “Know Your Rights Card” to the immigration officer and asked to speak to your attorney. Do not tell the agent your nationality, place of birth, or present immigration status. Do not show the officer any identification documents or papers from your country of origin. Of extreme importance, do not lie or provide any false documentation. If you happen to have valid and up-to-date immigration documents, you may show them to the officer if you are comfortable doing so.
Experienced immigration lawyer Perry A. Craft can provide you with strong legal assistance if you have been encountered by immigration authorities concerning your current status. If you need help, call the Law Office of Perry A. Craft, PLLC in Nashville today at 615-953-3808 or fill out our contact form.
Perry A. Craft has dedicated his life to helping people in need. He has tried, settled, or resolved numerous civil and criminal cases in State and Federal courts, and has represented teachers and administrators before school boards, administrative judges, and the state Board of Education. Learn more about Attorney Craft.