Being stopped by the police or immigration officers can be a terrifying experience. Many times, people end up saying too much or saying things they should not, out of fear or anxiety.
Police or immigration officers sometimes use this to their advantage, trying to use statements you make to obtain the requirements they need to arrest or deport you. That is why it is important to know your rights when you are stopped and questioned.
What you should say and do
There are certain things you must cooperate with. Give your real name, since giving a false name is a crime.
The same goes for any documents that you are asked to provide. If you have your immigration documents with you, provide them. Giving false documents can get you into serious trouble.
When officers are at your door
You have a right to now allow police into your home if they do not have a search warrant. You also have a right to see the warrant to make sure it is valid before letting them into your home. They do not need to come into your home to show you the warrant; they can slide it through or under a door.
A valid warrant only allows the police to search areas where the evidence sought in the warrant might be found. It does not give them the right to search all areas of your home or demand that you leave your home during the search.
When you are pulled over or stopped on the street
During stops in your vehicle, you must provide your driver’s license and registration. However, you do not have to provide immigration documents if asked.
You do not have to provide any information other than your name and address if you are randomly stopped on the street. Furthermore, you do not have to speak to an officer at all unless they order you to stop. Never go anywhere with them unless you are under arrest.
These rights might seem straightforward, but it is easy to get confused about what to say or not say when your anxiety takes over. It can help to talk with someone about your experience afterward to learn if any of your rights were violated.