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The Rights Every Undocumented Person Must Know

Every undocumented person living in the United States needs to embrace the following: Just because you are deportable doesn’t mean you will be deported. Being deportable means that the government has the right to initiate deportation proceedings from within the United States. You can only be deported if you are inside the US; if you are outside of the US trying to come in, you can be blocked at the border. This also initiates proceedings based on whether you can be admitted to the US lawfully.

There are  legal avenues to fight back and defend yourself if you are put in proceedings. () Take an active role in understanding what your rights are, and never make the mistake of assuming that you don’t have any simply because you are undocumented. Everyone in this country is protected by the Constitution, regardless of their immigration status. 

What Are My Rights When Interacting with Government Officials?

Rights are fundamentally different from privileges. The government cannot take your rights away. For example, you will always have the right to an attorney; however, you may not always be allowed to operate a motor vehicle, which would be classified as a privilege. 

Here are some of the rights that you have, and will always have, regardless of status:

  • You have the right to walk away if you are not being detained. Police officers can legally ask you questions such as your whereabouts, your name, and for your identification. However, if they ask to search you or your property, you can politely leave if you are not being detained. You are permitted to ask, “Am I being detained?” or “Am I free to go?” when an officer or government official is questioning you. 
  • You can refuse consent. If you are pulled over, follow the officer's instructions regarding the traffic stop. You are required to get out of your vehicle if you are asked. If they do not have any probable cause, you do not have to allow them to search your vehicle just because they ask to. 
  • You can remain silent. Statements you make can be used as evidence against you. You do not have to speak to an officer once you are detained and not free to leave. The less you say, the less they have to use against you. 
  • You have the right to an attorney. This is the 6th  Amendment, and it applies to you! As soon as you have an interaction with law enforcement, contact an attorney. Don’t allow the situation to escalate before you decide to contact legal counsel. 

What Are My Rights at Immigration Court?

You have the right to an attorney as a non-U.S. citizen. However, the government will not pay for one on your behalf. After you get arrested or issued immigration charges, you will be given a list of lawyers who may represent you for free. Although these attorneys are dedicated professionals, they have very large caseloads. Regardless of the circumstances, do not forgo having legal counsel. Keep contacting attorneys until you have one who can represent you. Once a final order for deportation is issued by an immigration judge, you have very few legal options remaining. 

You have the right to present your case, and you should have an attorney to assist you with it. Regardless of what you may have seen on tv or in the movies, immigration trials are not large trials. There won’t even be a jury. It will just be you, your lawyer, a judge, and your witnesses. The government has to prove that they can legally remove you from the US. You and your attorney will be responsible for demonstrating why you should remain here. 

Contact a CrImmigration Attorney 

Just because you have been rendered deportable does not mean you will be deported. However, you must know and exercise your rights to defend yourself properly. If you have a criminal history, it is paramount that you contact a crimmigration attorney who understands how criminal charges and immigration proceedings impact one another. Because you have a right to a trial, the attorneys at STERN Law, LLC, are here to represent you to the fullest extent of the law. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

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The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship.