What are my rights if I get arrested and am not a U.S. citizen?
It is becoming an increasingly more common practice for persons that are arrested by the police to subsequently find themselves in deportation proceedings or detained by Immigration or have an Immigration hold placed on them. All immigrants have certain rights in the United States. All persons, regardless of their legal immigration status, have a right to request a bond, a hearing before an Immigration judge and a right to speak to their attorney. We advise all our clients that if they find themselves in an immigration hold or in deportation proceedings or detained by Immigration to tell the Immigration officer that they want a bond, they want a hearing with an Immigration judge and they want to speak to an attorney. This is particularly important if that person does not have papers but has an application pending through a family member. It’s a very common scenario for persons that are here illegally but are married to a U.S. citizen and have an application pending through that spouse, but as the application is processing through and then taking the year to two years it takes for Immigration to process it, those persons wind up, for a variety of reasons, including bad luck, being apprehended and placed to — for Immigration being placed in deportation proceedings. Just because that person does not have any papers does not mean they do not have rights, particularly if they have an application pending through a family member. We always advise our clients if you have an application pending, keep a copy of the receipt you have received from Immigration on you at all times. If you wind up being detained by Immigration and they ask you for immigration status, show them a copy of the receipt and explain to them, “I am married to a U.S. citizen,” or, “I have an application pending through my brother or my mother or my spouse. I do not want to sign anything. I want a bond, I’d like a hearing with an immigration judge, and I’d like to talk to my attorney.” The only way Immigration can deport someone is if they sign their own deportation or if they’re ordered deported by an Immigration judge. So under all situations, particularly if you have an application pending, it is in your best interest to exercise your rights, request a bond, request a hearing with an Immigration judge and request to talk to the family members that are petitioning you.