Know Your Immigration Rights

Know Your Immigration Rights

Know Your Immigration Rights Know Your Immigration Rights

By Manju Kalidindi, Esq.

Everyone living in the United States has certain basic rights under the U.S. Constitution. According to the 14th Amendment:

“All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

It is the word “person” that connects the dots of “due process” and “equal protection” in the 14th Amendment to the U.S Constitution, and it is those five words that make the Constitution of the United States and its 14th amendment one of the most important political documents.

Therefore, “Aliens,” legal and illegal, have the full panoply of constitutional protections.


If you are undocumented and immigration (ICE) agents knock on your door, know that you have the following rights:

  • UNDOCUMENTEDYou do not have to open the door or let the officers into your home unless they have a valid search warrant signed by a judge.

  • An ICE deportation warrant is not the same as a search warrant. If this is the only document they have, they cannot legally come inside unless you verbally agree to let them in.

  • If the officers say they have a search warrant signed by a judge, ask them to slide it under the door or hold it up to a window so you can see it.

  • If the warrant does not have your correct name and address on it and is not signed by a judge you do not have to open the door or let them inside.

  • If at any point you decide to speak with the officers, you do not need to open the door to do so. You can speak to them through the door or step outside and close the door.

  • You have the right to remain silent. You do not need to speak to the immigration officers or answer any questions.

  • If you are asked where you were born or how you entered the United States, you may refuse to answer or remain silent.

  • If you choose to remain silent, say so out loud.

  • You may show a know-your-rights card to the officer that explains that you will remain silent and wish to speak to a lawyer.

  • You may refuse to show identity documents that say what country you are from.

  • Do not show any false documents and do not lie.

  • You have the right to speak to a lawyer

  • If you are detained or taken into custody, you have the right to immediately contact a lawyer.

  • Even if you do not have a lawyer, you may tell the immigration officers that you want to speak to one.

  • If you have a lawyer, you have the right to talk to them. If you have a signed Form G-28, which shows you have a lawyer, give it to an officer.

  • If you do not have a lawyer, ask an immigration officer for a list of pro bono lawyers.

  • You also have the right to contact your consulate. The consulate may be able to assist you in locating a lawyer.

  • You can refuse to sign any/all paperwork until you have had the opportunity to speak to a lawyer.

  • If you choose to sign something without speaking to a lawyer, be sure you understand exactly what the document says and means before you sign it.


Always carry any valid immigration document you have with you.

  • LEGAL PERMANENT RESIDENTS AND VALID VISA HOLDERSIf you have a valid visa, work permit, or green card, be sure to have it with you in case you need to show it for identification purposes.

  • If you are 18 or older, you do have to carry your green card with you. Section 264(e) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (I.N.A.) requires all lawful permanent residents (LPRs) to have “at all times” official evidence of LPR status.

  • Failure to have your green card with you is a misdemeanor and if you are found guilty you can be fined up to $100 and put in jail for up to 30 days. (I.N.A. Section 264(e).) A copy is not good enough, because the law does not use the word “copy” or refer to “other evidence” of LPR status.


U.S. CITIZENSU.S. citizens (by birth or naturalization) are not required to carry proof of their citizenship status.

However, quite a number of naturalized citizens are fearful and uncertain given the present immigration climate. Even though it is not a requirement, quite a number of naturalized U.S. Citizens as well as those born here who are of a certain ethnic background are carrying evidence such as a copy of their U.S. passports or U.S. passport cards.

About the Author

Manju Kalidindi, Esq.Manju Kalidindi, Esq., earned her law degree from Hamline University School of Law, in St. Paul, MN. She is a member of The Florida Bar and the American Immigration Lawyers Association. Manju is well-versed in immigration law, focusing primarily on employment and family-based immigration. She has been recognized for her exceptional pro bono service by the Supreme Court of Florida in 2010. Broward Lawyers Care announced her as the November 2012 Attorney of the month for providing high quality legal representation to their clients.

Ms. Kalidindi currently serves as the President of SAHARA of South Florida (, a non-profit organization which provides assistance to victims of domestic violence in South Asian communities.

For more information, call (954)723-9105.
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