The Department of Homeland Security includes three agencies that work on immigration enforcement and immigration benefits: United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Patrol (CBP). All three bureaus will be referred to as DHS for the purposes of this pamphlet.
Assert your rights. If you do not demand your rights or if you sign papers waiving your rights, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) may deport you before you see a lawyer or an immigration judge. Never sign anything without reading, understanding and knowing the consequences of signing it.
Do I have the right to talk to a lawyer before answering any DHS questions or signing any DHS papers?
Yes. You have the right to call a lawyer or your family if you are detained, and you have the right to be visited by a lawyer in detention. You have the right to have your attorney with you at any hearing before an immigration judge. You do not have the right to a government-appointed attorney for immigration proceedings, but if you have been arrested, immigration officials must show you a list of free or low cost legal service providers
Should I carry my green card or other immigration documents with me?
Presenting false or expired papers to DHS may lead to deportation or criminal prosecution. An unexpired green card, unexpired 1-94, Employment Authorization Card, Border Crossing Card or other papers that prove you are in legal status will satisfy this requirement. If you do not carry these papers with you, you could be charged with a crime. Always keep a copy of your immigration papers with a trusted family member or friend who can fax them to you, if need be. Check with your immigration lawyer about your specific case.
Am I required to talk to government officers about my immigration history?
No. If you are undocumented, out of status, a legal permanent resident (green card holder), or a citizen, you do not have to answer any questions about your immigration history. If you have a lawyer, you can tell the agent that the lawyer will answer questions on your behalf.
If I am arrested for immigration violations, do I have the right to a hearing before an immigration judge to defend myself against deportation charges?
Yes. In most cases only an immigration judge can order you deported. But if you waive your rights or take “voluntary departure,” agreeing to leave the country, you could be deported without a hearing. If you have criminal convictions, were arrested near the border, came to the U.S. through the visa waiver program or have been ordered deported in the past, you could be deported without a hearing. Contact a lawyer immediately to see if there is any relief for you.
Can I call my consulate if I am arrested?
Yes. Non-citizens arrested in the U.S. have the right to call their consulate or to have the police tell the consulate of your arrest. The police must let your consulate visit or speak with you if consular officials decide to do so. Your consulate might help you find a lawyer or offer other help. You also have the right to refuse help from your consulate.
What happens if I give up my right to a hearing or leave the U.S. before the hearing is over?
You could lose your eligibility for certain immigration benefits, and you could be barred from returning to the U.S. for a number of years. You should always talk to an immigration lawyer before you decide to give up your right to a hearing.
What should I do if I want to contact DHS?
Always talk to a lawyer before contacting DHS, even on the phone. Many DHS officers view “enforcement” as their primary job and will not explain all of your options to you.
Knowing your rights is your responsibility!!!!