Know Your Rights

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The following information is based on constitutional rights that you have, regardless if you’re undocumented.

These instructions are intended to provide you with as much safeguards to your rights and liberties as possible should you be detained. It does not guarantee that you will not be detained but it could strengthen your legal case when facing the police or in court.


Why is it important to know your rights?

Local, state & federal agencies are increasingly taking matters into their own hands by passing laws or ordinances, allowing police to enforce federal immigration laws. Police are more involved in stopping people who they “suspect” are undocumented, asking about their immigration status, arresting them, and calling immigration to begin deportation proceedings.

It’s important that all immigrants –regardless of immigration status- know their rights because 1) ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) and local police will not necessarily tell you what your rights during a raid or if stopped and 2) as an immigrant, you may become a victim of racial profiling.

Protect yourself – General guidelines

Don’t provide government officials information about your immigration status. Do not tell the officers anything or sign any documents without first speaking with a lawyer. Do not lie. Do not give false documents. Do not carry papers from another country. Find out the name & phone number of a reliable immigration lawyer and keep this information with you at all times. Make copies of all important documents and keep it with a friend of family member who you trust. Important documents include birth certificates, marriage certificates, passports, etc. If you are being abused while questioned, it may be difficult to follow these guidelines. Please use your judgment to protect yourself and stop the abuse.

In your home or college dorm

Do not open the door. Ask the officer to identify themselves. Through the closed door, ask the officer if they have a warrant. If yes, ask them to slip the warrant underneath the door. If you open that door and allow the officer to come in, this may be considered giving him/her “consent.” Review the warrant and look for your name, your address, and a signature. If you have trouble reading English, get someone inside to translate, if possible. If the warrant looks valid and it has your name, go outside and talk to the officer. You have the right not to let the officer enter. This is especially important if you live with other people who might have immigration problems, because once you allow the officer inside, they can question anyone else who is there too. If you do talk to the officer (outside the house), do not answer any questions. Don’t sign any papers. Tell the police officer you want to talk to a lawyer. If the officer enters without a warrant, asked them for their names and badge numbers. Write it down. State that “I did not consent to a search.” Also write down the names & phone numbers of witnesses. If they take anything from your home, make sure to get a written notice from them about what was removed.

In your workplace

Stay calm. Do not run. Running may be viewed as an admission that you have something to hide. You have the right to keep silent. Again, you also have the right to talk to a lawyer before you answer any questions. You can say “I wish to talk to a lawyer,” in response to any question the officer asks you. Do not tell the immigration officer or police officer where you were born or what your immigration status is. Do not give the officers any papers or any immigration documents. If they ask for your papers, tell the officer, “I wish to talk to a lawyer.”

On the street

If an immigration officer stops you on the street and does not have a warrant, he/she may not arrest you unless he/she has evidence that you are a non-citizen. Do not share what your status is. If the officer keeps trying to ask you questions, you can ask, “Am I free to leave?” If the officer says yes, then walk away. If no, then continue to answer with “I want to speak to a lawyer.”

If you are detained

If you need language assistance, you have the right to request it. Write down the name of the officers & their agency, along with their identification numbers & license plate numbers. Contact your lawyer or a family member. You have the right to make a telephone call after you are arrested. While making the phone call, be sure not to state any information that you wouldn’t want an officer to know. You have the right to have a lawyer. If you don’t have a lawyer, you can request to ICE for free or low-cost legal advice or representation. If ICE refuses to allow you to call a lawyer or family member, then at that time give them only your name and date of birth. If you do not give your name and date of birth while detained, your lawyer or family member cannot find you. For every other question, respond with “I want to speak with a lawyer.” Don’t sign any documents before speaking with a lawyer. Do not agree to “voluntary departure,” which means that you are volunteering to leave the country on your free will. Signing that agreement means that you won’t get a hearing in front of a judge and you may never be allowed to enter the U.S. again or get legal immigration status.


If immigration or police comes to your home or work...
“May I see your warrant, please?”
If immigration or police ask you a question
“I reserve my right to remain silent.”
“I want to speak to a lawyer.”
“I need a Korean interpreter.”
If immigration or police stop you on the street...
“Am I free to go?”



Please be informed that I am choosing to exercise my right to remain silent and the right to refuse to answer your questions. If I am detained, I request to contact an attorney immediately. I am also exercising my right to refuse to sign anything until I consult with my attorney.

I want to contact this attorney or organization:

Telephone number:

Thank you.


KRC - Please call if you have further questions. KRC also a lawyer referral list. 323-937-3718.

Or refer to handbook

Illustrations provided by Casa de Maryland.

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