Your Rights When Asked for Your Immigration Status
June 8, 2023
Everyone in the United States, including citizens, immigrants, and foreign nationals, has certain rights that are guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution. On certain occasions, the police, law enforcement officers, or immigration authorities may stop you and ask you different questions. However, many individuals are unaware of their rights when questioned about their immigration status and might easily end up in the worst possible situation.
Attorney Layne C. Savage enjoys protecting the rights of people stopped by immigration officers. As a seasoned Rhode Island immigration law attorney, Layne can tell you about your rights and the dos and don'ts when asked about your immigration status. The firm proudly serves clients in Providence, Rhode Island, and surrounding communities throughout the state, as well as Boston, Massachusetts.
When Your Immigration Status May Be Questioned
Under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), foreign nationals and non-U.S. citizens are required to register with "the appropriate government agency" upon entering the United States. If you're 18 years or older, you must carry your immigration documents with you always. Here are some scenarios when your immigration status may be questioned:
Police and law enforcement officers can ask about your immigration status during a routine traffic stop or when your vehicle is pulled over.
Customs and immigration officers can ask about your immigration status when entering or leaving the country.
An employer can ask about your immigration status after you've been hired to verify your identity and eligibility to work in the U.S.
However, under the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, you have the right to remain silent and to refuse to answer any question about your immigration status when asked by law enforcement officers and other government agents.
Your Rights When Asked Your Immigration Status
When asked about your immigration status by the police or law enforcement, here are some of your rights:
You have the right to remain silent and not answer questions about your citizenship or immigration status when asked by the police, immigration officers, or other government officials.
You have the right to refuse a request by the police or immigration officers to search your vehicle or home without any probable cause or search warrant.
You have the right to ask the police or immigration officers why you were stopped and if you're free to leave.
If you're arrested, you have the right to an attorney. You should request a lawyer immediately.
However, these rights generally apply when inside the United States. If you're inside airports or at the border, you must answer questions about your immigration status when asked.
Do’s and Don'ts When Asked
When stopped for questioning by the police or immigration officials, here are some things you need to do – or not do – to avoid implicating yourself:
Do stay calm, courteous, and polite.
Do exercise your constitutional right to remain silent.
Do show the police your driver's license, proof of insurance, and vehicle registration, if requested.
Do show the immigration agents your immigration papers upon request.
Do take mental notes and write down everything you remember from your encounter.
Don't discuss your immigration or citizenship status with the officer.
Don't provide false documents or lie about your immigration status.
Don't run, obstruct, resist, or argue with the officer.
Don't consent to a search.
Don't answer the officer's questions about how you entered the country or if you're a U.S. citizen.
An experienced immigration attorney can go in depth about what you should do or avoid when questioned about your immigration status and the vital documents you should always carry with you.
Documents You Should Carry With You
Here are some important immigration documents that you should always carry with you if you're a non-U.S. citizen and older than 18 years:
Green Card or Permanent Resident Card.
Employment Authorization Document (EAD).
Alien registration receipt card.
Any other proof or certificate of alien registration.
With your complete papers and documentation, you can establish your immigration status to law enforcement officials and avoid further questioning.
Understand Your Immigration Rights
Under the U.S. Constitution, you are guaranteed certain rights, notwithstanding your immigration status. Knowing your rights when asked for your immigration status can help you manage the situation intelligently and ensure that you do not incriminate yourself. Attorney Layne C. Savage has the resources to direct and represent individuals questioned or arrested by law enforcement and immigration officers.
Your lawyer can intervene quickly and ensure that the police or immigration officers respect your constitutional rights. In addition, she will advise you on what to say – and what not to say – and ensure that you do not implicate yourself inadvertently. Even if your rights were violated, Attorney Layne C. Savage can investigate the violation, file a written complaint with the government agency, and help you seek the necessary protections or relief.
Contact the Law Office of Layne C. Savage today to schedule a simple consultation with a reliable immigration lawyer. The firm proudly serves clients in Providence, Rhode Island, and surrounding communities throughout the state, as well as Boston, Massachusetts.