Even the idea of interacting with immigration law enforcement officials can be enough to elicit feelings of dread for non-citizens living in New York at this time. The current climate of immigration law and policy continues to exist in a state of flux, making many feel worried about what may happen next to affect their safety and status in the United States.
If you feel nervous or uninformed about how to conduct yourself during an interaction with law enforcement officers, consider some key talking points to keep in mind. While there is no surefire way to ensure a positive outcome, it is beneficial to prepare yourself in case an officer questions your immigration status or attempts to detain you or a loved one.
Do you have a warrant?
First things first, when a law enforcement officer attempts to make an arrest or enter a home, ask if they have a warrant to do so. If yes, ask to see the warrant and check for a judge’s signature which makes the document enforceable.
I can show you my relevant paperwork.
One way to resolve a dispute with immigration or other law enforcement officers is to show them any relevant immigration documentation you may have. This can include a green card, work visa, tourist visa or other paperwork that signifies your status. This will not always end an interaction, but it can show your compliance and help clarify things for the officer.
One important note to remember: never present an officer fraudulent or otherwise fake documentation. If you do not have any papers to present, remain silent when an officer asks for this documentation. For those who do have paperwork, consider keeping it on hand at all times in case of an interaction with law enforcement.
I need to call my lawyer.
An officer can’t force you to answer questions without an attorney present. You have the right to remain silent until an attorney can come to assist you. Even if you have never contacted a lawyer prior to this incident, consider keeping the contact information for a New York immigration attorney on your person at all times.
A law enforcement officer can’t expect you to know the ins and outs of the law, and that is unfortunately to their advantage oftentimes. The most important things to remember are to remain respectful but steadfast when interacting with officers. You do not have to answer every question and should contact a lawyer, but that does not mean disregarding the instructions of an officer.
The climate around immigration as an issue continues to change in New York and the country at large. While it not guaranteed that you will come in contact with an immigration official, it is helpful to prepare just in case. Keep these talking points in mind and remain up to date on the state of immigration policy during this contentious time.