Immigration: Know Your Rights

If you see Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in action, suspect ICE activity in progress, or if you or someone you know has been detained by ICE, call ACILEP, the Alameda County Immigration Legal and Education Partnership, at 510-241-4011 for rapid response and immigration legal services.

Know Your Rights: If you have to deal with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) or other law enforcement officers at home, on the street, or anywhere else, remember that you have rights:

  • You have the right to remain silent. You may refuse to speak to immigration officers. Don’t answer any questions. You may also say that you want to remain silent. Don’t say anything about where you were born or how you entered the U.S. Carry a know-your-rights card and show it if an immigration officer stops you. The card explains that you will remain silent and that you wish to speak with an attorney.
  • Do not open your door. To be allowed to enter your home, ICE must have a warrant signed by a judge. Do not open your door unless an ICE agent shows you a warrant. If an ICE agent wants to show you a warrant, they can hold it against a window or slide it under the door. To be valid, the warrant must have your correct name and address on it. You do not need to open the door to talk with an ICE agent. Once you open the door, it is much harder to refuse to answer questions.
  • You have the right to speak to a lawyer. You can simply say, “I need to speak to my attorney.” Before you sign anything, talk to a lawyer. ICE may try to get you to sign away your right to see a lawyer or a judge. Be sure you understand what a document actually says before you sign it.
  • Always carry with you any valid immigration document you have. For example, if you have a valid work permit or green card, be sure to have it with you in case you need to show it for identification purposes. Do not carry papers from another country with you, such as a foreign passport. Such papers could be used against you in the deportation process.
  • If you are worried ICE will arrest you, let the officer know if you have children. If you are the parent or primary caregiver of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident who is under age 18, ICE may “exercise discretion” and let you go.
  • Create a safety plan. Memorize the phone number of a friend, family member, or attorney that you can call if you are arrested. If you take care of children or other people, make a plan to have them taken care of if you are detained. Keep important documents such as birth certificates and immigration documents in a safe place where a friend or family member can access them if necessary. Make sure your loved ones know how to find you if you are detained by ICE. They can use ICE’s online detainee locator to find an adult who is in immigration custody. Or they can call the local ICE office. Make sure they have your alien registration number written down, if you have one. You can call the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) hotline number at 240-314-1500 or 1-800-898-7180 (toll-free) 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to get information on your case’s status.

At its meeting on January 17, 2017, Alameda City Councilmembers voted unanimously (with one member not present) to adopt a resolution that reaffirms the City of Alameda’s commitment as a Sanctuary City to the values of dignity, inclusivity, and respect for all individuals, regardless of ethnic or national origin, gender, race, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, or immigration status.

The City’s resolution is the latest action in a century-long tradition of embracing diversity and respecting the civil and human rights of its residents, while acknowledging and understanding laws at every level in the past were often at odds to progress.