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Arrested or detained immigrants: Know your legal rights

Immigrants who find themselves detained or arrested by U.S. authorities have specific legal rights. However, these rights may change depending on where the arrest occurred. In the case of an arrest or detainment close to a border or at an airport, immigrants have fewer rights. If the arrest happens on the street, following a vehicle stop, at a residence or at work, immigrants will usually have more rights.

The most important thing to remember during an immigration arrest is to stay calm and keep the following firmly in your mind:

-- You have the right to speak with an attorney and you have the right to remain completely, and entirely silent.

-- Do not sign any papers before you consult with an attorney. You could be giving up your legal right to see an attorney or stand before a judge.

-- Note down the names, phone numbers and ID numbers of any deportation or immigration officers associated with your arrest and case.

-- Do not agree to a voluntary departure which will require you to leave the United States until after you have discussed the matter with your attorney. A voluntary departure agreement will remove your right to a hearing and you may never be permitted to enter the United States again.

-- Do not agree to stipulated orders of removal before discussing the matter with your attorney. This will also waive your right to have a hearing with a judge and it will serve as your final order for removal and deportation.

-- The immigration judge and immigration agents are not your friends and they are not on your side. You cannot trust them to provide you with the correct information, and you cannot expect them to educate you about your legal options. The only person you can trust to provide you with information that serves your best interests is your attorney.

Following this advice will help those arrested by immigration authorities tremendously. Keep learning about your legal rights as an immigrant if you're at risk of being arrested by immigration agents. The information could save you a great deal of heartache and money at some point in the future.

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