New Sanctuary Coalition

Keeping families together and advocating against deportations

know your rights

Everyone Has Certain Basic Rights, No Matter Who Is President!

Everyone living in the U.S. has certain basic rights under the U.S. Constitution—everyone, including people who are undocumented.

Remember, simply knowing one’s rights is often not enough. We must all be well prepared. 

Your Constitutional Rights:

The right to remain silent.

The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution says that every person has the right to not answer questions asked by a government agent. They can ask you questions but you cannot be arrested just for refusing to answer them. Be aware, however, that the police or FBI may become suspicious if you refuse.

The right to be free from “unreasonable searches and seizures.”

The Fourth Amendment protects your privacy. Without a warrant, no government agent can search your home or office without your consent, and you have the right to refuse to let them in. But in emergencies (like when a person is heard inside calling for help) officers can enter and search without a warrant. If you are arrested in your home, the officers can search the area “close by,” which usually means the room you are in at the time of the arrest. Be aware that the government may be monitoring your email, your cell phone calls, or your telephone calls without your knowledge.

The right to advocate for change.

The First Amendment protects groups and individuals who peacefully advocate for their rights or who oppose government policies. But, the U.S. Supreme Court has said that Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) can target non-citizens for deportation because of their speech and political views, as long as it could deport them for other reasons. This means the ICE could target a visitor who overstayed a visa because it disliked his or her speech, views, or associations with individuals and groups.

The right to assemble

Your right to free speech is protected in public (streets, sidewalks, parks). Do not block streets, sidewalks or building entrances. Permits are required for gathering in some locations. You have the right to photograph or use video on public property. Counter-protests are permitted, but must refrain from physical disruption. ]

Always carry your Rights Card with you.

Rights Card

For a larger file and to access multiple languages, you can view or download these Know Your Rights cards from United We Dream so you know what to do if you encounter with law enforcement or an ICE official.

What To Do (and Not Do) in Case of an Encounter with ICE

The administration has said it intends to deport those with criminal convictions, but ICE has also detained people who have been charged but not convicted, as well as people with no criminal record at all. ICE usually identifies the person they want to detain and then goes to their homes or workplaces, sometimes to the courts and jails, especially in cities that do not explicitly uphold sanctuary city policies. However, they have also picked people up on the streets and often they pick up people along the way who were not the original target.

Here are some guidelines for what you can or should do in different situations:

If ICE Comes to Your Home

Do not open doors. If ICE comes knocking, they can't come in unless they have a judge-issued warrant. Ask them: “Do you have a warrant?” Keep asking them that until they respond to that question. It is always good to practice this beforehand. If they say they do, you have the right to see the warrant. Tell them: “Please slip the warrant under the door.” Make sure it is signed and is specifically for your address and a specific person. Take a picture of it before you let them in.

Call your phone tree/buddy system. Your network of allies should be alerted to come to your aid. Even if they do not arrive in time, they can make sure to follow up with authorities and locate you. The phone tree should be designed to get you help to respond to your case, inform your family, our community and mobilize our network of allies, activists and helpers. Our community members should make a plan listing the steps the phone tree will follow to notify family, sanctuary and the rest of the response team. In case of a raid or if you are in the process of being detained, lock your phone after calling and initiating your phone tree and plan.

Remain silent. If and when ICE comes in, just give them your Rights Card. Do not say anything, do not respond to any questions. ICE can use anything you say against you in your proceedings.

Do not sign anything without speaking to an attorney. They may ask you to sign documents like "stipulated orders of removal” or "voluntary departure" forms. This allows them to quickly remove you from the country as you're signing away your rights. So make sure you DO NOT sign any documents presented by ICE before you speak to an attorney

Do not give your documents (such as passports) to ICE officials. They may immediately be used against you to put you into deportation proceedings.

Record everything. You, or other people with you, have the right to record any law enforcement event. Agents might tell you to stop but you can continue recording. Document all the facts about a raid, including any and all actions taken by ICE agents that may be unlawful, take down the names and badge numbers of ICE agents, and the names and dates of birth of detained immigrants.

If You Encounter ICE on the Street

Stay calm and be polite, don’t run or resist or obstruct them; keep your hands visible.

If you are not a U.S. citizen, you must present immigration documents (if you have them) when requested by an immigration agent. If you don’t have immigration papers, tell the agent you wish to remain silent. Do not lie or give false documents to officials.

Legal Resources: National Lawyer’s Guild Legal Hotline 212.679.6018 / | /

Human Rights: | | |

If You Are Detained by ICE

Detention does not automatically mean deportation. There is a legal process that is set in motion. But it can last up to 6 months or more, so it is important to prepare yourself psychologically, emotionally and to have a plan for childcare and to keep up with house bills and expenses. The legal process in detention is composed of three court dates:

  • Bail day
  • “Master Calendar” day, in which all case documents are submitted
  • Individual Court, in which the court decides whether you are deportable

You have the right to appeal, and if you lose your appeal you have the right to appeal again.


New Sanctuary Coalition

239 Thompson St.

New York, NY 10012