How to be Prepared for a Raid or Arrest

Everyone who lives in the U.S. has legal rights, even if they are undocumented. Our legal rights are in the U.S. Constitution, a document that protects us from bad or unfair treatment by law enforcement or the government. To protect yourself, learn about the right to be silent, the right to talk to a lawyer, your rights inside your home or on the street, and more.

To be ready for a raid or arrest:

  • Know your rights: to ask for a lawyer, and when to stay quiet or ask to see a warrant.
  • Have an emergency plan, with phone numbers to call, a lawyer's name and number, someone to take care of your family, and a safe place at home where you keep important papers and contact information.
  • Do not use or carry a fake I.D. or information. Bad documents or lies can make your situation worse.
  • Note: You do not have to answer calls or text messages from immigration officers. If you answer the call, you do not have to talk to them. You can tell them you want to talk to your lawyer.

If you are in a raid or arrest:

  • If you are stopped by police or immigration, you can ask if you are "free to leave?" If the officer says "yes," then you can calmly walk or drive away.
  • You do not have to answer questions about your legal status, where you were born, or how you came to the U.S. You can tell the officer that you have a "right to remain silent."
  • You have the right to talk to a lawyer before you answer questions. You can tell the officer that you want to talk to your lawyer first. In some places, you have to give your name if the officer asks.
  • At your home, the police or immigration often need a "warrant" or your permission to come in. A warrant is permission from a judge. It must be signed by the judge. You can ask them to slip the warrant under your door. You can tell them you will not open the door and they cannot come into your home without a warrant.
  • You do not have to sign papers that you do not understand. Wait until you talk to a lawyer. Do not let someone scare you about signing papers.
  • Stay calm and think before you talk or act.

The government has a phone number to report problems in immigration detention, such as separation from a small child, bad treatment, serious mental illness or other problems. A person who is detained, or a friend or family member can call: 1-888-351-4024.

Updated 10/19/2020