With the ever-changing climate of immigration law and policy in the United States, it can be worrisome for non-citizens to think about how to interact with law enforcement in regard to your immigration status. For non-citizens living in Nebraska, there are some important considerations to keep in mind if an immigration or other law enforcement officer approaches you.
While the state of immigration policy is still fluctuating in the current administration, you still hold legal and constitutional rights even as a non-citizen. It is understandable to worry about interacting with law enforcement, but implementing a proactive strategy can help lessen some of these concerns.
What should you say to an officer?
First and foremost, every person has the right to remain silent when interacting with law enforcement. An officer can't force you to answer questions about your status in the country, where you are from or anything else. It may be helpful to answer some questions and remain compliant, but don’t feel pressure to answer everything without an attorney present.
If you feel worried about what you can and should say to an officer, consider some key talking points:
- Can you show me your warrant? To conduct an arrest or enter your home, officers need a warrant signed by a judge. Ask to see the warrant and look for a signature to ensure its enforceability.
- Here is my visa, green card, etc. One way to resolve an issue with immigration officials is to present the relevant information they seek. For adult non-citizens, it may be in your best interest to always carry your visa, green card or other documentation in case an officer asks to see this paperwork. Never, under any circumstances, present fraudulent paperwork. This may only worsen an existing issue.
- I need to call my lawyer. The best thing you can do when facing arrest is contact an attorney. Even if you have never contacted the lawyer prior to this incident, keep a Nebraska-based immigration attorney's phone number with you either written down or in your phone at all times.
Immigrants in Nebraska
There are unfortunately a number of reasons to feel worried about your status as a non-citizen living in Nebraska at this time. Raids of workplaces, increased arrests and other frightening actions continue to happen, but this does not mean you are without options and protections. Planning ahead can help you get through an interaction with law enforcement even during this challenging climate.