What to Do if You Are Arrested or Detained by Immigration

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Immigrants who are migra_2arrested or detained by Immigration have certain rights.  These rights change, however, if you are arrested or dtained at tht border or in an airport.  In these cases, you may have fewer rights. You probably have more rights if your are arrested by Immigration at work, on the street, after a traffic stop, or at home.  If you are arrested and detained, it is important that you keep calm, and remember the following things:

• Do not sign anything.  You may be signing away your rights to see a lawyer or a   judge.

• Do not take “voluntary departure” (that is, do not agree to leave the United States) without first talking to a lawyer.  Signing a voluntary departure agreement means that you won’t get a hearing, you will have to leave the U.S., and you may never be allowed to enter the U.S. again or get legal immigration status.

• Do not expect Immigration agents or the judge to explain your options, or to give you the right information.  Wait to speak with a lawyer before saying or doing anything.

• You have the right to call an attorney or your family if you are detained.  You have the right to be visited by an attorney in detention (Immigration jail).

• You have the right to a lawyer, but the government will not pay for or provide that lawyer.  You must hire one or find someone who will represent you for free.  (Immigration should give you a list of groups you can call that may provide free or low-cost legal advice or representation.)  If you see a judge before you can get legal advice, you should ask the judge for more time to find a lawyer.

• When you get a lawyer, you should tell the lawyer everything you think is important about your immigration case, including whether you have ever been arrested for a crime.  It is important that anyone giving you legal advice know everything about your case so that she or he can give you the best advice.  It does no pay to lie or keep information from you lawyer.

• If you think that your boss reported you to Immigration because you complained about your working conditions, make sure to tell the lawyer this fact.  If your boss did report you for this reason, you might be able to bring an official complaint against him or her.

• In most cases, Immigration must decide within 48 hours whether to put you into immigration proceedings (in front of a judge), and whether to keep you in custody or to release you on bond.  However, under new laws, Immigration may have more time to decide (it should not be more than 7 days before they decide).  Be sure, though, to tell a lawyer or a legal organization if you are being held for more than 48 hours.

• In most cases, you have the right to ask to be released from detention by paying a bond, or to ask for a bond hearing in front of a judge.  The judge, though, may order that you stay in detention if the judge decides that you might not show up for your court hearing or that you are dangerous to others.

• If you have to leave the U.S., try to speak with an immigration lawyer before leaving.  If you leave, you may not be allowed to come back into the country for a certain number of years.  It is important you know this before you leave, because if you come back earlier than you’re allowed to, you can be arrested for having committed a serious crime.

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