What is the differences between local police and federal immigration officers?
If you are stopped by authorities, it could be:
- State Highway Patrol
- Local city police or Sheriffs
- Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”)
- U.S. Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) within 100 miles of border.
If you can’t tell what they are, you can ask!
What are my rights if I am stopped by local police?
The police officer should quickly tell you why you are being stopped. If they don’t tell you, you should ask.If they think you may have committed a crime, they can ask for your name and address. You have to tell them.They cannot ask for ID unless you are driving. Therefore, if you are not driving, you should tell them your name and address. But before you provide an ID, you should ask if you are under arrest! If not, tell them that you don’t need to show them an ID.They cannot search you unless they have some good reason to think you have a weapon. You should say: “I do not consent to a search.”If you are driving, you have to show them your driver’s license, vehicle registration, and proof of insurance.You should not answer questions that you are not comfortable answering, like questions about your immigration status.
What if I only have a Mexican driver’s license?
You can drive with a Mexican license, but only if you are a visitor. If you live in a state for several months, you are likely a resident, and you cannot use your Mexican ID. If you show a Mexican ID, you may only be highlighting your Mexican nationality.If you don’t have a driver’s license, then tell them you don’t have it. They will ticket you for this, but they shouldn’t contact immigration.If they are calling ICE, but they are not giving you a ticket for anything else: Ask, “Am I under arrest?” If not, they can’t hold you while they wait for ICE to arrive! Ask them if you are free to go.
What should I do if I am stopped by immigration authorities?
Immigration authorities are different from local police. Local police cannot ask about immigration, but federal authorities can.What can ICE demand from you? They can demand you show them “alien registration” documents. Examples include a permanent resident card (“green card”), an I-94 admission document (the white document that you may have gotten when entering the country), Employment Authorization Document, or a border crossing card. If you don’t have these, it can be a minor crime they can arrest you for. However, it is very rare to be arrested for not having these documents with you.Do not show fake IDs! If you either don’t have documents or yours are expired, you can calmly state that you do not want to answer any questions until you get an attorney. This is your right.
Do you have to let immigration officers in your house?
No, not without a warrant. If they say they have one, ask to see it. Do not step outside. The warrant must specifically say they can enter your house. If not, then they cannot enter your home without your agreement.You may choose to share some basic information with the officers, but you should never make a sworn statement. Sometimes they want to interview you and record it. It is typically not in your best interest to agree to this. You can say you are not talking without your attorney. You have a right to an attorney before talking.Any information you provide will only be used against you. It is not rude to refuse to talk. It is your right.
What happens if I am arrested by immigration authorities and placed into proceedings?
You will almost always get a chance to see an Immigration Judge if you request it. However, if you have a final order of deportation against you, or you were previously deported, then you may not have a right to see an Immigration Judge.You should never agree to voluntary departure unless you are absolutely sure that you want to go back to your home country.Don’t sign anything unless you understand what it says!You should usually try to talk to an immigration attorney, because you may have some defense available to you that you don’t know about, so you can stop the deportation!The immigration officers who arrested you have the right to release you from detention while you wait for your hearing in Immigration Court. You might be released on your own, or you might have to pay a “bond” to be released from detention. A bond is a cash payment that they take from you, and you get the money back after the proceedings are over. They do this to make sure that you attend the hearing they schedule for you.You could be moved out of state while you wait to pay bond. You should try to set aside some money so that in case you ever need to post a bond you can afford to pay for it and get released from detention.You will be given the chance to make a phone call. Keep an attorney’s number with you in case you need to call from a detention facility.