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Know Your Rights When Asked About Immigration Status

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Published on Mar 10, 2016

You have the right to remain silent. You do not have to answer questions about where you were born, whether you’re a U.S. citizen, or how you entered the country. (Separate rules apply at international borders and airports, and for individuals on certain nonimmigrant visas, including tourists and business travelers.)

If you’re not a U.S. citizen and an immigration agent requests your immigration papers, you must show them. If you’re over 18, carry your immigration documents with you at all times. If you don’t have immigration papers, say you want to remain silent.

Do not lie about your citizenship status or provide fake documents.

If You're Stopped In Your Car

Stop the car in a safe place as quickly as possible. Turn off the car, turn on the internal light, open the window part way, and place your hands on the wheel.

Upon request, show police your driver’s license, registration, and proof of insurance.

If an officer or immigration agent asks to search your car, you can refuse. But if police believe your car contains evidence of a crime, they can search it without your consent.

Both drivers and passengers have the right to remain silent. If you’re a passenger, you can ask if you’re free to leave. If yes, silently leave.

If You Feel Your Rights Have Been Violated

Write down everything you remember, including officers’ badges and patrol car numbers, which agency the officers were from, and any other details. Get contact information for witnesses. If you’re injured, seek medical attention immediately and take photographs of your injuries.

File a written complaint with the agency’s internal affairs division or civilian complaint board. In most cases, you can file a complaint anonymously if you wish.

For more information, call your local ACLU or visit www.aclu.org/affiliates.

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