It’s important to know your rights and responsibilities when interacting with police or agents from Border Patrol or Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
To prepare, you should:
- Educate yourself about your rights and responsibilities. All people have rights, even if you’re not a citizen or don’t have a lawful immigration status. Know your rights and know how to exercise them.
- Gather your documents. Keep all your important documents where you can find them easily.
- Talk to a lawyer. Discuss your situation with a lawyer. Always keep the number or card of a respected lawyer or legal service nonprofit with you. You can find nonprofits that offer free legal help in your area on this page under "Legal Help and Lawyers."
- Plan for your family. Complete a “Limited Power of Attorney” form to choose a trusted friend or family member to care for your children if you are detained. Get passports for your children. If your child is not a U.S. citizen, get them a passport from their birth country. You can get a passport from your country’s consulate. At the consulate, register your child as a citizen of your home country so your child can enter if they need to.
Police and immigration enforcement
When you interact with police and immigration enforcement, you have the right to:
- Remain silent. You have the right to remain silent. If you want to exercise this right, say it out loud, and then stay silent. Anything you say can be used against you. If the police believe that you committed a crime, you must share your name, address and date of birth. You do not have to share anything else.
- Refuse a search. You have the right to refuse a search of yourself, your car or your home.
- Be treated respectfully. You have the right to be treated respectfully by the police.
- Leave. If you are not under arrest, you have the right to calmly leave. Ask if you are allowed to leave.
- Get a lawyer. If you are arrested under a criminal charge, you have the right to get a lawyer. Ask for a lawyer immediately.
During contact with police or immigration enforcement:
- Do not discuss your immigration status. Do not answer questions about your birth country, your citizenship or how you entered the U.S. Your lawyer is the only person you should talk to about your immigration status. If the police think you committed a crime, ask your lawyer how a criminal conviction or plea affects your immigration status.
- Stay calm. Always stay calm and respectful.
- Show your valid immigration papers. Federal law requires non-citizens to carry their valid immigration documents. If an immigration agent from Border Patrol or ICE asks for your immigration papers, you must show valid papers if you have them. If you do not have valid immigration papers, do not show fake documents.
- Read all papers carefully. If you need an interpreter, tell the officer or agent. Talk to a lawyer before you sign anything.
- Write down details. When it’s over, write down everything you remember about the encounter, including officers’ badge and patrol car numbers, what agency the officers are from and any other details about the encounter.
If police or immigration officials come to your house:
- Do not open the door. You have the right to deny entrance unless the officers have the correct warrant. A warrant is an order signed by a judge that says that the police or enforcement agents can take a specific action. If the officers have a warrant, ask the officer or agent to slip the warrant under the door or hold it up to the window so you can read it. In some emergency situations (like if a person inside calls for help or if the police are chasing someone), officers can enter your home without a warrant.
- Read the warrant. If the officer shows you a warrant, read it carefully. A search warrant allows police to enter the address on the warrant without permission. The officers can only search for the items listed on the warrant. A search warrant must be signed by a judge. If the officer takes anything out of your home, ask for a receipt. A criminal arrest warrant allows police to enter the home of the named person if they believe the person is inside. A criminal arrest warrant must be signed by a judge. A warrant of removal/deportation (“ICE warrant”) does not allow officers to enter a home without consent.
- Remain silent. You have the right to remain silent (even if officers have a warrant). If you choose to speak to the officers, step outside and close the door.
Arrest and immigration detainers
If you are arrested:
- Ask to speak with your attorney or make a phone call.
- Contact your trusted friend or family member. Contact your trusted friend or family member who knows your lawyer’s phone number and your emergency plan.
- Contact your consulate. Ask the agent to tell the consulate that you are arrested. The consulate can help you find a lawyer if needed. The consulate may help contact your family.
An immigration detainer is a notice that immigration enforcement gives to law enforcement when a potentially removable person is in jail or prison. The detainer tells law enforcement to hold you for up to 48 hours after the criminal release date. Saturdays, Sundays and holidays don’t count toward the 48 hours. When the 48-hour period ends, you should be released immediately. If you are not released automatically, your lawyer should request release. If the jail can’t hold you based on criminal charges, it is illegal to detain you after the 48-hour period.
If you are placed in immigration detention, you have the right to:
- Be treated with respect
- Receive a detainee handbook
- Access an attorney at your own expense and legal materials
- Access a telephone
- Receive visitors
- Contact your consulate
- Refuse to sign papers you do not understand
- Write letters
- Participate in recreation
- Practice religion
- Access funds and personal property
- Receive medical care
Deportation proceedings and immigration court
If you are placed in removal (deportation) proceedings or go to immigration court remember:
- You have the right to a lawyer. The government does not provide a lawyer for you in immigration court. If you do not have a lawyer, ask for a list of free or low-cost lawyers.
- You have the right to remain silent. What you say can be used against you later. Only talk to your lawyer.
- You have the right to an interpreter. If you need a document translated, ask for an interpreter. If you do not speak English, you have the right to have an interpreter at your hearing.
- You have the right to present your case to an immigration judge. If you are placed in removal proceedings and do not have an active removal order from a judge, you have the right to present your case to an immigration judge. You have the right to ask for a bond. A bond is money paid to release you from ICE custody while you wait for your hearing. If you follow all instructions, the money is returned after your case ends. Learn more about posting an immigration bond below.
- Memorize your alien number. Memorize your alien number (“A number”) and give it to your family. Your A number helps your family locate you.
- Tell people how to locate you. To locate a detainee who is currently in ICE custody, or who was released from ICE custody within the last 60 days, use the online detainee locator system. The system only recognizes exact name matches, so you may need to try different versions of a person’s name (like using a hyphen or only one name).
- Keep your documents. Keep all documents that are issued to you in a safe place.
To post immigration bond:
- Decide who will pay the bond. The payer must be at least 18 years old and show proof of citizenship or lawful immigration status. The payer is responsible for making sure the person in removal proceedings goes to all the required hearings and meetings.
- Call the bond information number. To get bond information, call the bond information number for the detainee’s detention facility. Ask to speak to the deportation officer handling the case. You must share the detainee’s last name and alien registration number (A number). Ask the deportation officer which bond acceptance facility you should use.
- Post the bond. Post the bond at the detention facility’s bond acceptance facility. Pay the bond by money order, certified check or cashier’s check. Make the payment payable to the “U.S. Department of Homeland Security.”
- Ask questions. If you have questions about bonds, contact the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Debt Management Center at (802) 288-7600.