The U.S. Constitution guarantees every person in the country with certain rights, regardless of the status of their immigration.
While being an immigrant in this country can be a challenge, to say the least, knowing your rights and how to use them can help you appropriately respond to a situation with the police or immigration officer.
Below are some of your most basic rights as immigrants in the United States.
The right to remain silent
If an immigration officer approaches and asks you questions, you may not speak to them or answer any of their inquiries, especially those involving your place of birth or how you came into the United States. You may also refuse to show any proof of identification that shows what country you’re from.
To keep them from asking more questions, you may tell them that you’re choosing to remain silent until your immigration attorney arrives. Most importantly, don’t lie or produce any false documents.
The right to refuse a search
Aside from choosing to remain silent, you do not have to allow or agree to a search on yourself or your belongings. The officer, however, may perform a pat- down check on your clothes if they suspect you of carrying a weapon.
Your labor rights
U.S. labor and employment laws apply to all employees, notwithstanding their immigration status. Any acts of discrimination based on race, religion, sex, or color are prohibited in the workplace.
Like all every other person in this country, you have the right to a safe working environment and be fairly compensated for the work that you do.
Your right to an attorney
In the event that you’re detained or taken into custody, invoke your right to a lawyer immediately. Even if you don’t have or know an attorney, you may ask the officers for a list of pro bono lawyers. You may also contact your consulate for assistance in finding a lawyer to handle your case.
Be careful about making any statements or signing documents, especially if you don’t fully understand what they mean. You may refuse to sign anything until you have spoken to your legal counsel.
What do I do if ICE shows up on my doorstep?
Your home affords you special protections that you can’t exercise in public spaces. Understanding these protections and how to use them can help you deal with and avoid trouble with the immigration enforcement knocking on your door.
One thing that every immigrant should know is that you don’t have to let an ICE officer inside your home unless they have a valid search or arrest warrant with your name (or any person in residence) and address on it, signed by a judge. You can ask the officer to hold the document up to a window or slip it under the door so that you can examine it.
If the officers can’t produce a warrant, keep the door shut and inform them that you do not consent to their entry. Should they for their way in, do not resist or run away. Instead, tell them that you do not authorize their search of the premises. Stay silent. Do not make any statements, answer any questions, or sign documents. Ask to speak to a lawyer as soon as possible.
An immigration attorney can help.
Immigration matters are often confusing and complicated – this area of the law is something that you wouldn’t want to navigate alone.
No matter what kind of situation you’re in, know that you have options. An experienced immigration attorney can help you grasp the context of your individual circumstance and go through all the possible options.
Whether it’s an immigration application or issues with immigration laws and procedures, working with an expert can save you time from dealing with extensive paperwork and raise your chances of obtaining a favorable result.