Know Your Rights — Regardless of Who is President!


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Your Rights At Home

You do not have to open the door to any immigration agent or to the police

unless they have a valid arrest or search warrant.

  • If you open the door, the officials will consider that you are given them permission to enter. Once they are inside, ICE will likely ask for documents of everyone inside.
  • You can ask the agent to pass the warrant under the door. You do not have to sign if it is not valid.

What is a warrant?

A warrant is a document signed by a judge that authorizes officials to enter your house.

To be valid, an arrest warrant must have:

  1. The name of the person they are looking for
  2. That person must live at the address listed on the warrant
  3. That person must be present in the home

A valid search warrant must specify:

  1. The address they are going to search
  2. Which places, in detail, they are going to search
  3. What they are looking for
  • If the agents have a warrant, review it to determine if they have searched an area that is not authorized in the warrant.
  • If the agents enter the house without a valid warrant, ask for the names and badge numbers of the agents. You can state that you do not consent to the search.

Your Rights In General

  1. You have the right to remain silent
  2. You do not have to answer any questions, but there is a risk in not giving your name; it
  3. may seem suspicious.
  4. You do not have to reveal your immigration status to government officials, but you cannot lie either. You have the right to remain silent.
  5. You can refuse to sign any document

Even if you do not have a lawyer, you are not obligated to sign anything. If you have a lawyer, you can ask them to be present. You always have the right to understand what you are signing.

  • If you have been mistreated, you have the right to file a complaint.

Remember that knowing your rights does not necessarily mean that the authorities will follow the law or respect your rights.

Key Points

  • Always be polite and stay calm.
  • Never lie or give false information to an immigration agent or police officer.
  • Do not carry false identifications with you.
  • Do not reveal your immigration status.
  • Keep with you the name and phone number of an immigration attorney who will accept your calls.
  • Show a ‘Know Your Rights’ card – this card explains that you will remain silent and that you wish to speak to an attorney.
  • Make a family preparation plan in case of emergency.

Your Rights On The Job

If immigration officials or the police come to your work:

  1. Do not run! Do not lie!
  2. You have the right to remain silent!
  3. You are not obligated to sign anything from immigration or from your employer. You have the right understand anything they give you and ask you to sign. You can refuse to sign any document.
  4. Officials do not always need a search warrant
    1. If you are working in a public place (like in a park or on the street), a search warrant is not needed. In addition, if the authorities have permission of the employer, that is considered sufficient.

Your Rights In Detention

  1. You have the right to remain silent
  2. You do not have to respond to questions about where you were born, where you are from, or your legal status, but you should never lie. Once you are detained, you will have to give your name, address, and birthdate, but you do not have to answer other questions.
  3. You have the right to refuse to sign. You can refuse to sign any paper until you consult with a lawyer. Do not sign anything you do not understand.
  4. You have the right to make a phone call
  5. You have the right to call a family member, a lawyer, or your country’s consulate.
  6. When you call your family, tell them the name of the jail where you are detained and you
  7. Alien Registration Number, or ‘A’ number. This number should appear in all immigration or detention documents. It is 9 digits and starts with the letter ‘A’.
  8. Most of the time, the person in detention cannot receive phone calls. But, the person can make collect calls. You should check with your cell phone company to see if you phone can receive collect calls. Most cell phones do NOT receive collect calls.

Your Rights In The Car

  • If immigration agents or the police signal you to stop your car, you should do so Immigration officials and the police can ask for your name, driver’s license, registration and insurance. You should show these documents if you have them.
  • You have the right to remain silent
  • If they stop you while you are driving, you must give your name. You do not have to answer any other question.
  • If an official questions a passenger, that person has the right not to answer.
  • You can refuse consent to search your car
    • If an official wants to search your car, you have the right to give or refuse permission, but you should not interfere with their actions.
  • You can ask if you are free to go or if you are under arrest. If they tell you that you are under arrest, remember you always have the right to remain silent.


  • It is important to always carry with you some form of valid photo ID from the US, even if you are not eligible for a drivers’ license. For example:
    • A student ID
    • A bank card
    • Costco card, etc…


IMPORTANT: This document does not constitute legal advice. Consult an immigration lawyer if you need legal information & assistance.

Sources: National Immigration Law Center

Immigrant Legal Resource Center

American Friends Service Committee and Faith Action Int’l House