Although some in the media may tell you otherwise, if you are in the United States illegally you are protected by U.S. laws, including the Constitution. This is true whether you have entered illegally or have overstayed your visa.
Especially now, it is important you know your legal rights. The following is a very brief outline of some of your legal rights. As with any laws, there are often exceptions to laws described below. Use the links in this blog to learn more about your rights and those exceptions.
If it wasn’t bad enough, that you had to beware of authorities, you also need to be aware of scammers. They have been reportsof people posing as ICE officers and demanding money from people or telling them that they would arrest them. As New York Attorney General Eric Schneidermanhas said (ICE) agents will never ask you for money or threaten detainment or deportation if you do not pay them.
Real ICE agents, or for that matter the police, don’t have the legal authority to force their way into you home without a search warrant signed by a judge. The U.S. Constitution provides you the right against unreasonable searches. Don’t let them into your home. If you do let them in, they can look around and take you or others into custody. There is an excellent short outline of your rightsthat is provided by the ACLU. I suggest you read and print it.
In addition to not letting ICE agents or police in, unless they show you a search warrant signed by a judge, you should not say anything. The U.S. Constitution give you the right to be silent.
Make a recordof what is going on. If you have a cell phone, take a video of what is going on. Try to get the names of the people. Take photos. Write down details, especially if you don’t have a cell phone.
If you get arrested, contact an experienced immigration lawyer to represent you with your deportation. You have rights and will need someone who can fight for you. It’s a good idea to line up such a lawyer before you find yourself in such a situation.
Make a planof what your family will do if you are arrested. Your spouse, significant other, or close friends should know who you work for so they can inform your employer and collect any wages owed you. You should choose who will care for your child. Be sure that the school knows who that person is and you have provided written authorization. You should also provide your banking information. Even better, you should put someone else on your bank account so that he or she has access to the money in the account if needed.
If you are arrested by ICE you may not be able to easily contact your family or friends. They need to know how to look for you if you are taken by ICE. There is a websiteprovided by ICE that can be searched to look for you.
These are difficult times for you. By being familiar with your legal rights and taking the time and effort to make a detailed written plan you can help protect yourself and your family.