A Full-Service Law Firm

Fighting For Your Rights

Speaking with Police and Immigration Agents

On Behalf of | Jan 15, 2016 | Immigration |

The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees against illegal search and seizure. Every person is protected under the Constitution, regardless of their immigration status.

Here is some general information for non-U.S. citizens on what to do if you interact with police or immigration agents. This is not, nor should it be intended as, legal advice.

In general, if you are casually approached by law enforcement in Tennessee you do not need to interact with the officer or answer any question, even if the officer identifies himself as a police officer. You do not need to even identify yourself, state what you are doing or where you are going. The only way you can be lawfully detained is if the officer has reasonable suspicion that you committed a criminal act.

If you are detained, stay calm, be polite, and do not interfere. Ask if you are free to leave, and if the officer says yes, walk away.

You always have the right to remain silent, and you do not have to discuss your immigration or citizenship status with police, immigration agents, or any other government official. You do not have to answer questions about where you were born, whether you are a U.S. citizen, or how you entered the country (separate rules apply at borders, and for certain nonimmigrant visas, when encountering immigration agents).

If an immigration agent requests your immigration papers, you must show them if you have them with you. If you do not have immigration papers, say you want to remain silent. Do not lie or provide fake documents.

You have the right to refuse consent to a search. Government officials may only gain entry to your home with your consent or with a warrant (barring exigent circumstances). A search warrant allows police to enter the address and search the areas listed on the warrant for the items listed on the warrant. An arrest warrant allows police to enter the address if they believe the person listed on the warrant is inside.

An ICE warrant of removal/deportation does not allow officers to enter a home without consent. Officers can attempt to persuade individuals to allow them entry, threaten them with prosecution, or even lie, but they cannot enter without permission.

If you are taken into custody by police, don’t discuss your immigration status with anyone but your lawyer. While you are detained, an immigration agent may visit you. Don’t answer any questions or sign anything without a lawyer present.You have the right to make a phone call. The police cannot listen if you call your lawyer.

If you are placed into ICE custody, do not sign anything. If you sign, you may be giving up your opportunity to try and stay in the U.S. Read everything completely, and if you do not understand or cannot read the papers, tell the officer you need an interpreter. Memorize your “A Number.” It will help family members locate you.

For further information on how to interact with police officers at your home, click on the following story: What to do if the police show up at your home.