Bilingual attorneys offering guidance through a range of legal challenges affecting both citizens and immigrants

Do I have to tell the police my immigration status?

Talking to police makes most people anxious and stressed, even if they have done nothing wrong. If you are an immigrant and have an encounter with the police or immigration agents, the experience can be even more frightening, especially if you are asked about your immigration status.

You have certain constitutional rights in the United States, regardless of your immigration status. One of these is the right to remain silent.

No, and here’s why

This means you do not have to tell police or immigration officers your immigration status, even if they ask. In most cases, your immigration status has nothing to do with the reason the police are speaking to you, so there is no reason they need to know it.

Saying anything about your immigration status, or any other topic, can be used against you in court. Therefore, you should stay silent and ask for an attorney.

Providing immigration documents

However, the situation is slightly different if in immigration agent asks to see your immigration documents and you are not a U.S. citizen. You must show them the documents if you have them with you.

Additionally, you must generally answer some questions if you are asked about your immigration status by a customs agent when you are entering or leaving the country. You may tell the customs agent that you are a lawful permanent resident and state your name, but you do not have to say anything else.

Although not answering any other questions might slow down the process, you cannot be denied entry to or exit from the country.

Be honest and do not resist

Never lie about your immigration status or provide false documentation. If you are an undocumented immigrant and do not want to say so, stay silent.

Knowing how to act in these types of situations is important. Stay calm and be polite and respectful. Do not run away or start an argument. This will only make the situation worse. You also have a right to an attorney, so ask for an attorney rather than arguing or resisting.

Skip to content