Know Your Rights!


Know Your Rights!

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What you should and shouldn’t do if faced with deportation

Are you or is someone you know in danger of deportation?

You have RIGHTS in the United States no matter who you are or your immigration status.

Attorneys can fight for you in court but only if you can stand by your rights first; you are the first line in your own defense. We recommend practicing these rights in a role-play scenario because it can be hard to do this in real life.

But be ready to be silent—and NEVER let U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (also known as ICE) agents into your house, even if they pretend to be police.

If you are worried about all the changes in the laws and the recent political environment, there are churches and community groups you can talk to about support.

10 dos and don’ts if you are at risk for deportation

1. DO keep your door closed. You should not open your door for ICE agents without seeing a warrant. ICE agents have been saying they are “police,” so be careful and understand you can say no.

2. DO ask to see the warrant. The warrant is an official paper signed by a judge to allow police or an ICE agent or any other official to arrest a certain person. That person’s name will be on the warrant. Do NOT open the door to see a warrant. The official or agent can hold it up to a window or slide it under the door. ICE agents almost never have a warrant.

3. DO ask to see an official ID. Again, do not open the door. The agent can hold the badge up to a window or put it through a mail slot.

4. DO decide if there is an arrest warrant. If they have an arrest warrant and if the person named on the warrant is you or someone else in the house, have the person go outside.

5. DO NOT ever, ever, ever let ICE agents (or the police) into your house.

6. DO NOT answer any questions. You do not have to tell them anything, including where you are from or if you have a visa or not. Be silent.

7. DO tell immigration officials your real name so your friends and family can find you if you are arrested.

8. DO ask to call your lawyer, as you have a right to do so. Memorize your lawyer’s, friend’s, or family’s phone number.

9. DO NOT take legal advice from anyone who is not a real lawyer.

10. DO have a plan for your children, including a signed permission slip for a friend or family member to pick them up at their school or day care.

BONUS: DO be strong! You can do it. It can be scary, but standing up for your rights will protect and help you.

Print out a “rights card.” You can hand that to an ICE agent so you do not have to answer any questions.

Please share this information with anyone you know who is at risk.

For more information, videos, rights cards, etc., in various languages, check out the American Civil Liberties Union or National Immigration Law Center websites.


Kerry E. Doyle is a partner with the Boston firm of Graves & Doyle. Previously, she worked in the nonprofit sector in Boston, Miami and Hong Kong. She teaches Immigration Law at Suffolk University School of Law as an adjunct professor and from 2004 to 2005 served as Chapter Chair of the New England Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

Please feel free to contact us with any comments or questions.


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