KNOW YOUR CIVIL RIGHTS: DHS/FBI/ICE
I. WHAT IF THE FBI or IMMIGRATION AGENTS CONTACT ME?
Q: Do I have to answer questions asked by the agents?
A: You have a constitutional right to remain silent. You do not have to answer any questions that the agents ask you. It is a good idea to talk to a lawyer before agreeing to answer questions. You do not have to talk to anyone, even if you have been arrested or are in jail. Only a judge can order you to answer questions.
Q: Can I talk to a lawyer?
A: You have the right to talk to a lawyer before you answer questions, whether or not the police tell you of that right. The lawyer’s job is to protect your rights. Once you say that you want to talk to a lawyer, officers should stop asking you questions. If you do not have a lawyer, you may still tell the officer you want to speak to one before answering questions. If you have a lawyer, keep his or her business card with you. Show it to the officer, and ask to call your lawyer. Remember to get the name, agency and telephone number of any investigator who visits you, and give that information to your lawyer.
Q: Can agents search my home or office without a search warrant?
A: Police and other law enforcement agents cannot search your home unless you give them permission, or unless they have a search warrant. A search warrant is a court order that allows the police to conduct a specified search. Interfering with the search probably will not stop it and you might get arrested. But you should clearly say that you have not given your permission and that the search is against your wishes. Your roommate, guest, or spouse can legally give permission to a search of your house if the police believe that person has the authority to give consent. Police and law enforcement need a warrant to search an office, but your employer can consent to a search of your workplace without your permission.
Q: What if agents have a search warrant?
A: If you are present when agents come for the search, you can ask to see the warrant. The warrant must specify in detail the places to be searched and the people or things to be taken away/ Call your lawyer as soon as possible. Ask if you are allowed to watch the search; if you are allowed to, you should. Take notes, including names, badge numbers, what agency each officer is from, where they searched and what they took. If others are present have them act as witnesses to watch carefully what is happening. Make sure you get a voucher of all the things the agents take from your home.
Q: Do I have to answer questions if the police have a search warrant?
A: No A search warrant does not mean you have to answer questions.
Q: Do I have to answer questions if the police do not have a search warrant?
A: No. A search warrant does not mean you have to answer questions.
Q: What if police stop me in the street?
A: Ask if you are free to go. If the answer is yes, consider just walking away. If the police say you are not under arrest, but are not free to go then you are being detained. The police can pat down the outside of your clothing if they have reason to suspect you might be armed and dangerous. If they search any more than this, say clearly, “I do not consent to a search.” They may keep searching anyway. You do not need to answer any questions if you are detained or arrested with one important exception. The police may ask for your name once you have been detained, and you can be arrested in New York for refusing to provide it.
Q: What if the police stop me in my car?
A: Keep your hands where the police can see them. You do not have to consent to a search. But if the police have probable cause to believe that you have been involved in a crime to that you have evidence of a crime in your car, you can be searched without your consent. Clearly state that you do not consent to the search. Officers may separate passengers and drivers from each other to question them and compare their answers, but no one has to answer any questions.
Q: What if the police or FBI threatens me with a grand jury subpoena if I don’t answer their questions?
A: A grand jury subpoena is a written order for you to go to court and testify about information you may have. If the police or FBI threatens to get a subpoena, you should call a lawyer right away. Anything you say can usually be used against you.
Q: What if I am treated badly by the police or the FBI?
A: Write down the officer’s badge number, name or other identifying information. You have the right to ask the officer for this information. Try to find witnesses and their names and phone numbers. If you are injured, seek medical attention and take pictures of the injured as soon as you can. Call a lawyer or contact your local ACLU office or the CUNY CLEAR Project.
II. WHAT IF I AM NOT A CITIZEN AND THE DHS CONTACTS ME?
Q: Do I have the right to talk to a lawyer before answering any DHS questions or signing any DHS papers?
A: Yes. You have the right to call a lawyer or your family if you are detained, and you have the right to be visited by a lawyer in detention. You have the right to have your attorney with you at any hearing before an immigration judge. You do not have the right to a government-appointed attorney for immigration proceedings but if you have been arrested, immigration officials must show you a list of free or low cost legal service providers.
Q: Should I carry my green card or other immigration papers with me?
A: If you have documents authorizing you to stay in the U.S., you must carry them with you. Presenting false or expired papers to DHS may lead to deportation or criminal prosecution. An unexpired green card, I-94, Employment Authorization Card, Border Crossing Card or other papers that proves you are eligible to be in the United States are important papers to carry.
Q: What happens if I give up my right to a hearing or leave the U.S. before the hearing is over?
A: You could lose your eligibility for certain immigration benefits and you could be barred from returning to the U.S. for a number of years. You should always talk to an immigration lawyer before you decide to give up your right to a hearing.
Q: What should I do if I want to contact the DHS?
A: Always talk to a lawyer before contacting the DHS, even on the phone. Many DHS officers view “enforcement” as their primary job and will not explain all of your options to you.
III. WHAT ARE MY RIGHTS AT AIRPORTS
Q: If I am entering the U.S. with valid travel papers can a U.S. customs agent top and search me?
A: Yes. Customs agents have the right to stop, detain, and search every person and item.
Q: Can my bags or I be searched after going through metal detectors with no problem or after security sees that my bags do not contain a weapon?
A: Yes. Even if the initial screen of your bags reveals nothing suspicious, the screeners have the authority to conduct a further search of you or your bags.