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Advice for those arrested by immigration officials

Nearly all undocumented immigrants in the United States are ethical and otherwise law-abiding individuals. They just happen to be here in the United States without proper documentation. For this reason, they are branded "illegal" immigrants, and they could be arrested.

However, because these individuals are often not the type of people to commit crimes, being arrested can be a new and absolutely terrifying experience. If you or your loved one was arrested by immigration officials, or is at risk of being arrested, there's a few things you need to know.

The U.S. Constitution affords you the "right to remain silent." By speaking to arresting officers, you run the risk of incriminating yourself unintentionally. Always ask to speak to your lawyer and state that you are invoking your right to remain silent.

Never sign anything that police ask you to sign before talking with an attorney. You should also record the name and contact information of your deportation officer. This information is important.

Also, you should never accept a "voluntary departure" before you fully understand what it means. You may never be permitted to legally return to the United States again, even if you have loved ones here.

Do not accept a "stipulated order of removal" before fully understanding what it means. It could be an immediate ticket to deportation. Immigration police and judges will not explain all of the options available to you.

In fact, you should not expect them to even give you the correct information about what's happening to you. The only person who is truly on your side through this process is your licensed and retained legal counselor.

You have the right to contact your family while you're in detainment, and you also have the right to contact a lawyer and to receive visits from a lawyer at the detainment facility. Use those rights to protect yourself.

There's a lot more you need to know and keep in mind if you or your loved one was detained or arrested by U.S. immigration officials. Understand your legal rights as an immigrant so you can navigate your legal proceedings appropriately.

Source: nilc.org, "What to do if you are arrested or detained by immigration," accessed April 13, 2018

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