The security of immigrants in the U.S. is under increasing threat. The federal government is targeting undocumented immigrants all over the country—seeking to deport anyone not permitted to reside here. This environment can be both intimidating and terrifying for anyone without the right papers.
As immigration attorneys, it’s our job to protect the rights of undocumented immigrants. We’re here to equip you with the knowledge you need to best defend yourself.
In our last post, we discussed important steps to take if you’re an undocumented immigrant who was arrested by the police. In today’s post, we discuss what you should do if you’re arrested by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE):
Have an action plan. Establish a plan with your family and friends, in case you’re targeted by ICE. Give them your alien registration number (an eight- or nine-digit number preceded by the letter “A”) so that they can locate you. Make sure they know where you keep all documentation related to your citizenship or residency status. Decide on any other steps they should take if you’re arrested.
Have a lawyer on standby. If you’re arrested by ICE, the government will not provide you with a lawyer for free. Nonetheless, you still have the right to a lawyer—and it’s a good idea to find one in advance of any legal need. Carry your lawyer’s business card on you, so that you can easily contact them, if necessary. If you don’t have a lawyer, ask for an officer to provide you with a list of immigration attorneys in your area.
Contact your consulate. Your consulate has the right to know about your arrest. Ask the officer to let you call your consulate, or else have the officer contact them on your behalf. It’s a good idea to carry your consulate’s phone number with you.
Be careful about what you say. If you’re arrested by ICE, you must disclose your name, address and date of birth. Aside from this information, you’re not required to say anything. You have the right to remain silent—and it’s advisable not to speak without your lawyer present. If you do speak, don’t lie. Above all, never discuss your immigration status with anyone but your lawyer.
Take careful notes. When you’re in custody, record the name, agency and phone number of anyone who visits you—and give this information to your lawyer. If you believe anyone violates your rights, record their identifying information as well as any details about the incident, and share this with your lawyer.
Don’t sign anything without your lawyer. You could inadvertently sign away your right to remain in the country.
This is a trying time for immigrants in the U.S. We’re here to help.