The United States government is continually using detention to deal with undocumented immigrants after their arrest. The government typically detains immigrants believed to be a flight risk and might relocate to another part of the country to avoid law enforcement. With detention, they are guaranteed to appear before an immigration court. Other reasons one may be detained by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) through its enforcement arm, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), may include:
- If they missed prior immigration court dates
- If they committed a crime
- They have an outstanding deportation order on record or,
- Arrival at the border without a visa before applying for refugee status or asylum
How to minimize risk to yourself
If an officer is effecting an arrest, remain calm. Do not argue, resist or try to obstruct the officer even if you believe they are violating your rights. Keep your hands where the police can see them. In addition, do not provide false documents or lie about your status.
Know your rights
You have the right to remain silent and are not legally required to discuss your immigration status with law enforcement, immigration agents, or other officials. Anything you say can be used against you in an immigration court. If you are not a United States citizen and an immigration officer asks for your immigration papers, you are required to show them if you have them with you. It is advisable to always carry your documents if you are above the age of 18.
Notably, the law protects you from an unlawful search. You can decline a request by an immigration agent to search you or your belongings if they do not have probable cause. Understanding these and other rights will help you navigate the sometimes complex immigration process.