Know Your Rights In Case of Immigration/Police Raid

It's important the immigrant population be prepared and informed regarding their rights before, during, and after any immigration/police raid takes place. The following information provides important recommendations as to what you should or should not do if you are detained by immigration or your local police, or other authorities.

Before a raid

  • Be prepared and plan ahead.
  • Contact an immigrant advocate, attorney, or qualified community agency and be well-informed abut your rights.
  • Know what documents you should carry with you at all times. It is advisable to carry a state ID or a driver’s license. These documents contain information about you and contain no information at all about your immigration status or your country of origin.
  • Do no carry any documentation brought from your country of origin.
  • Do not carry false documents with you.
  • If possible, carry a card that states you wish to exercise your right to remain silent for use in case you are interrogated by immigration/police officers. These cards are usually available from immigrant-rights organizations in your area.
  • Always carry the name and the phone number of any immigration advocate, a lawyer, and/or an agency who will provide you with advice and other help in case the immigration/police detains you.
  • Inform your neighbors and co-workers, regardless of their immigration status, of their right to remain silent if immigration/police comes to your neighborhood or workplace.

During a raid

  • Do not let any immigration official or public officer into your home/house/apartment without a court warrant. If they do not have one, they need your authorization in order to go inside. Ask them to put the warrant under the door. The warrant has specific names of people that he agents are looking for and should be signed by a judge. You should not open the door if the agents do not have a warrant or if it does not meet these requirements.
  • If immigration officials or police officers enter without proper authorization, ask for their names and/or write down their badge numbers.
  • Obtain the names and phone numbers of any witnesses.
  • Remain calm and do not try to run away. If you do so, immigration/police may use that against you.
  • Refuse to answer any questions regarding your birthplace and your legal status, unless your lawyer is present.
  • If you lie about your name, your relatives will have difficulty trying to find you.
  • If you have children in school who will not have someone to watch them while you are detained, say so, and ask to make arrangements.
  • Share information about the raid with your co-workers. If there is a union in your workplace, contact a union official.

After a raid

Remember that both documented and undocumented persons have the following rights. Keep them in mind at all times:

  • The right to make a phone call
  • The right to speak to a lawyer
  • The right to say nothing unless your lawyer is present
  • The right to a hearing before an immigration judge.

Important notes:

  • Do NOT sign any document. If immigration/police tries to convince you to sign any document, you should refuse to do so. That document might allow them to deport you without giving you the opportunity to see an immigration advocate or your lawyer. Keep a receipt of any personal property that is confiscated.
  • Report any incidents of raids or abuses/mistreatment by border patrol, INS, US Customs or police.
  • Contact your local immigrant rights organization, or 
  • Immigration Law Enforcement Project: 956-425-9552, or the National Network of Immigrant and Refugee Rights, 510-465-1984.

Information compiled from the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, 310 - 8th St, Suite 307, Oakland CA 94607, nnirr@nnirr.org. Website: www.nnirr.org. Phone: 510-465-1984. They have this information available in a number of languages.

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