Know Your Rights

Everyone in the United States has certain rights, regardless of citizenship or immigration status. These are your rights:

  • The right to remain silent: You do not have to respond to or answer any questions by the police, the FBI, Border Patrol, or ICE. It is your right to stay silent in any situation. You should say out loud: “I exercise my right to remain silent.”

  • The right to not consent to a search: Police may “pat down” your clothing if they suspect a weapon. You have the right to refuse consent for any further search of yourself, car, home, or belongings. You should say out loud: “I do not consent to a search.”

  • The right to have a lawyer: If you are arrested by police and cannot pay for a lawyer, you have a right to be given a lawyer for free. If ICE takes you into custody, ICE does not have to provide a lawyer for you but you have the right to access an attorney.

  • The right to leave: If you are not under arrest, you have a right to leave. If an officer stops you for questioning, ask: “Am I free to leave?” If yes, walk away calmly and silently. If not, you have a right to know why you are under arrest.

  • The right to make a call: If you are arrested or taken into custody, you have a right to make a local phone call. You should call a lawyer if you are arrested or in custody.


Here are some additional resources about your rights from trusted immigration advocates:

  • American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) provides information on your rights in certain situations, how to exercise those rights, and what to do when your rights are violated. Available in Arabic, Chinese, Creole, English, Farsi, French, Indonesian, Korean, Portuguese, Somali, Spanish, Tagalog, Urdu and Vietnamese. This printable card also explains what to do if you’re stopped by police, immigration agents or the FBI.

  • National Immigration Law Center (NILC) has a comprehensive list of resources for different situations and what to do when engaging with law enforcement, as well as a printable Know Your Rights card to keep in your wallet or purse. Available in various languages.

  • The Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC) website has many useful guides on your rights, how to find legal help, and how to prepare for a change in immigration status. They also have a printable Knows Your Rights card that include a space for your attorney’s name and phone number, available in Amharic, Arabic, Chinese, English, Farsi, Haitian Creole, Korean, Spanish and Vietnamese.

  • American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) offers handouts on what to do when ICE visits your home, employer or is in a public space. Available in Arabic, Chinese, English, Haitian Creole, Portuguese, Punjabi and Spanish.


This video is part of the Brooklyn Defender Services (BDS) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) series "We Have Rights," a national empowerment campaign to inform immigrant communities of what to do when interacting with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Visit www.aclu.org/we-have-rights for additional videos or to view in Arabic, English, Haitian Creole, Mandarin, Russian, Spanish and Urdu .