In a sea of misinformation, it is sometimes difficult to determine what rights you have as a documented or undocumented immigrant. The good news is that, irrespective of one’s immigration status, everyone in California has some rights under the U.S. Constitution. If you encounter U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Officials (ICE) on the street, at your workplace or at home, below are some things you can do in accordance with the rights you have.
Know your rights
The first right you should take advantage of is the right to remain silent. You do not have to answer any questions without getting advice from an attorney. You do not have to give them your legal status or reveal your country of origin.
You can also have in your possession information that advises ICE officers that you are opting to use your right to remain silent.
It can be intimidating to have armed officers at your front door calling out your or a loved one’s name. However, it takes more than a daunting look for them to legally enter your home. They must have a valid warrant, which is signed by a judge and has the correct spelling of your name and address on the bottom. They can show you the warrant through the glass screen door, a window or even push it under the door. If the warrant is valid, let them know that you need to speak with an attorney before you speak with them. In any event, do not sign off on any paperwork without consulting a lawyer. Doing so could jeopardize your presence in this country.
If you are undocumented, it is a good idea to keep some forms of immigration paperwork with you. However, not a passport. Know who to call if you are arrested and make sure your loved ones know where your personal documents are in case they are needed. Your family can also call the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) at 1-800-898-7180 to find out more information about the status of your case. The rights that you have may make the difference between deportation and being allowed to remain in this country.