Know Your Rights: Immigrants’ & Refugee Rights: Interacting with Immigration and Customs Enforcement

Regardless of your citizenship status, you have guaranteed rights under the Constitution. Use this pamphlet to learn more here about your rights when interacting with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and how to express them.

Download this Know Your Rights pamphlet as a (PDF)

Some basics if ICE asks about your citizenship status:

• Stay calm. Don’t run, argue, or resist the agent, even if you think your rights are being violated. Don’t lie about your status or provide false documents.

• You have the right to remain silent, and you don’t have to discuss your citizenship status with immigration agents, police, or any other officials. Anything you tell an agent or officer can be used against you in immigration proceedings. If you wish to remain silent, you must let law enforcement know “I wish to remain silent” and stop speaking after that.

• If you are not a U.S. citizen and an ICE officer asks for your papers, you must show them if you have them with you or indicate you wish to remain silent.

• If an ICE officer asks if they can search you, you have the right to say no. Agents don’t have the right to search you or your belongings without your consent or a reasonable basis to conduct the search.

What to do if law enforcement asks about your immigration status:

• In the state of Utah, local law enforcement officers may stop any person in a public place if the officer has reasonable suspicion the person has committed or may commit a crime. Police officers can demand the person’s name, address, and an explanation of their actions. You still have the right to remain silent and decline to explain your actions. Local law enforcement does not have the authority to enforce immigration laws unless they have been specifically granted that authority by ICE.

• If you are pulled over while driving, the officer can require you to show your license, vehicle registration, and proof of insurance, but you don’t have to answer questions about your citizenship status. Local law enforcement cannot pull you over simply because they believe that you may be in the U.S. without authorization.

• You do not have to answer questions about where you were born, whether you are a U.S. citizen, or how you entered the country (separate rules apply at airports and international borders, and for individuals on certain nonimmigrant visas, like tourists and business travelers). 

What if I’ve been stopped by ICE?

• Stay calm, don’t resist or obstruct the officers. Don’t lie or give false documents.

• If you are concerned that you may be subject to immigration enforcement action, prepare yourself and your family in case you are arrested. Memorize the phone numbers of your family and your lawyer. Make emergency plans if you have children or take medication.

• You have the right to remain silent. If you wish to exercise that right, say so out loud.

• You don’t have to consent to a search of yourself or your belongings, but ICE officers may pat down your clothing if they suspect a weapon.

• If you are detained by ICE, you have the right to consult with a lawyer, but the government is not required to provide one for you. You can ask for a list of free or low-cost alternatives.

• You can indicate you wish to remain silent and not answer questions about where you were born, whether you are a U.S. citizen, or how you entered the country.

What if ICE or police are at my home?

• Stay calm and keep the door closed. Opening the door does not give them permission to enter, but it is safer to speak to ICE or police through the door.

• Ask the agent or officer to show you a badge or identification through the window or peephole.

• You have the right to remain silent, even if the agent or officer has a warrant.

• You do not have to let immigration agents into your home unless they have a warrant signed by a judge. A warrant signed by an ICE officer is not sufficient to enter a home without your permission. If they claim to have a warrant signed by a judge, ask them to slide it under the door or hold it up to a window so you can inspect it.

• If police have an arrest warrant, they are legally allowed to enter the home of the person on the warrant if they believe that person is inside. But a warrant of removal/deportation (Form I-205) does not allow officers to enter a home without consent.

• Don’t lie or produce any false documents. Don’t sign anything without speaking with a lawyer first.

• If agents force their way in, do not resist. If you wish to exercise your rights, state: “I do not consent to your entry or to your search of these premises. I am exercising my right to remain silent. I wish to speak with a lawyer as soon as possible.”

• If you are on probation with a search condition, law enforcement may be allowed to enter your home.

What if I believe my rights were violated by ICE officers?

• If you’re injured, seek medical attention immediately and take photographs of your injuries.

• 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 from witnesses.

• File a written complaint with the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Civil Rights. In most cases, you can file a complaint anonymously. You can also contact the ACLU of Utah’s Intake Department.

Contact the ACLU of Utah

Phone: 801-521-9862, option 3
• Submit your complaint through our website or call/email us to request an intake
packet to be sent to your mailing address.