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Your rights when questioned by immigration agents

Your rights when questioned by immigration agents

If you are not a U.S. citizen, then you are probably living with a greater sense of anxiety and fear than you were a year ago.

Under President Obama, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) was told to only deport those who had committed serious crimes. However, under President Trump's administration, any undocumented immigrant can be deported.

Even immigrants who are living in the country legally are finding themselves being questioned by ICE agents, and it can be a very scary situation.

It is more important than ever to know your rights if you are questioned by immigration officers from ICE. Yes, you do have rights, even if you are in the country illegally.

Here is what you need to know:

1. If ICE officers come to your home, you do not have to open the door until they show you a warrant. Ask them to slide the warrant under the door and make sure that it is signed at the top by a judge.

2. You have the right to remain silent, even if you are not a citizen. Say that you wish to "exercise the right to remain silent," which means you do not have to answer any questions.

3. You can ask to have a lawyer present before making any statements to ICE. It's a good idea to have the name and number of an immigration lawyer in your area on hand. In the Houston area, call The Law Office of Mana Yegani at 832-391-8813.

4. If you have immigration paperwork with you, show it to the ICE agents. This includes work authorization cards, visas or green cards, which could result in the ICE agents letting you go.

5. Do not provide any false documents or lie to ICE agents. Avoid signing any documents provided by ICE agents until a lawyer has looked at them.

6. If agents force their way into your home without a warrant, do not fight them. Instead, you can say that you do not consent to their entry or their search, and that you wish to speak with a lawyer.

7. Consider recording the situation. Do not get in the way of an immigration stop involving someone else, and always let the agents know if you are reaching for your phone in a bag or pocket. If recording does not seem like a safe option, write down everything that happened immediately after the stop.

8. ICE agents can stop you anywhere. In the past, ICE avoided questioning people at churches, schools and hospitals, but that doesn't necessarily apply anymore, so be prepared.

9. Make sure children are protected. Work with an immigration lawyer if you or someone you know with children is facing deportation in order to make sure the children are kept safe. The Appleseed Network and the Immigrant Defense Project are two organizations that protect the rights of children of detained immigrants.

10. Remain calm. Remember that you do have rights and that there are lawyers who can help you.

The American Civil Liberties Union has additional information about your rights when immigration agents are at your door or when you are stopped by police. Other languages are available as well.

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