Know Your Rights

During a recent interview on “60 Minutes”, President-Elect Donald Trump reaffirmed his commitment to commence with the deportation of millions of undocumented “criminal” aliens from the United States. Specifically, Mr. Trump stated: “What we are going to do is get the people that are criminal and have criminal records, gang members, drug dealers, where a lot of these people, probably 2 million, it could be even 3 million, we are getting them out of our country or we are going to incarcerate.”

Due to statements like these and many other anti-immigrant statements made during his run for president, it is possible that some ICE and other law enforcement officers may think they can get away with violating your rights. You need to know that regardless of your status in the United States, you have rights, including the rights to:

  • Remain silent – you do not have to answer any questions or tell the officer anything about yourself or your family.
  • Speak to a lawyer – you do not have to speak to anyone or sign any document you do not understand without speaking to a lawyer first
  • Not answer your door or allow officers in your home – To be allowed to enter your home, officers must have a warrant signed by a judge, not just a deportation order. Do not open your door unless an officer shows you a signed warrant. If the officer wants to show you a warrant, they can hold it against a window or slide it under the door. The warrant must have your correct name and address on it to be valid.

Sometimes officers can try to trick people to get them to open their doors or sign away their rights. If an officer detains you or you are concerned that they will conduct raids in your area, this is what you can do:

  • Do not open your door.
  • You do not need to open the door to talk with an officer. Once you open the door, it is much harder to refuse to answer questions.
  • You have the right to speak to a lawyer.
  • You can simply say, “I need to speak to my lawyer.”
  • You may have your lawyer with you if ICE or other law enforcement questions you.
  • Before you sign anything, talk to a lawyer.
  • ICE may try to get you to sign away your right to see a lawyer or a judge. Be sure you understand what a document actually says before you sign it.

Always carry with you any valid immigration document you have.

For example, if you have a valid work permit or green card, be sure to have it with you in case you need to show it for identification purposes.

Do not carry papers from another country with you, such as a foreign passport. Such papers could be used against you in the deportation process.

If you are worried ICE will arrest you, let the officer know if you have children.

If you are the parent or primary caregiver of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident who is under age 18, ICE may “exercise discretion” and let you go.

  • Create a safety plan.
  • Memorize the phone number of a friend, family member, or attorney that you can call if you are arrested.
  • If you take care of children or other people, plan to have them taken care of if you are detained.
  • Keep important documents such as birth certificates and immigration documents in a safe place where a friend or family member can access them if necessary.
  • Make sure your loved ones know how to find you if you are detained by ICE. They can use ICE’s online detainee locator (https://locator.ice.gov/odls/homePage.do) to find an adult who is in immigration custody. Or they can call the local ICE office (https://www.ice.gov/contact/ero). Make sure they have your alien registration number written down, if you have one.

FIND OUT WHERE YOU STAND! You may already qualify for a benefit that you are not aware of yet. If you have never talked to an immigration attorney about your situation before, now is the best time to do so – before the new administration starts making changes that may affect you and your family. Contact an experienced, licensed attorney to find out what YOU can do to help your situation.

If you would like our assistance, contact our office today at 210-932-3600 to set up a consultation.

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