Every day we hear something new in the news, or from a friend, about an immigration problem that started at a simple traffic stop. We have consulted with several individuals about these questionable or potentially illegal stops and have worked with them to obtain relief. Also, Attorney George McGregor previously wrote about what to do if you are pulled over and have been drinking, this blog post is so that you can know your rights if you are stopped by U.S. Border Patrol (USBP).
The goal of this post is to set some things straight.
What If I Am at Home or On Private Property?
Border Patrol cannot go on to private property without either consent of the owner or a warrant, unless that land is twenty-five (25) miles or less from the border. Also, they cannot enter your private home without either consent or a warrant. If this has happened to you, call your attorney.
What If I Am in My Car?
Many people have reported being pulled over in questionable or potentially illegal stops by “roving patrols”. The law is simple: You cannot be pulled over to be questioned about your immigration status unless the agents have a “reasonable suspicion” of an immigration violation. Reliance on a person’s race or ethnicity to justify a stop is illegal. The officer or agent should be able to explain the reason for a stop to the driver, and you do not need to consent to a search of your vehicle without your consent or “probable cause” of an immigration violation or crime. The fact that you have refused a search does not create “probable cause”. If you believe that the officer or agent “invented” the reason for probable cause, record as much information as possible to later challenge the stop, with your attorney.
What Happens If I’m Arrested?
This is a complex question that depends on the particular facts of your case that you should discuss with your lawyer. Still, if you are detained, you have the right to remain silent and the right to speak to a lawyer. You also have the right to speak with the consulate of your home country. It is very possible that officers in the jail or detention center will ask you where you were born, when you entered the United States and how long you have been here, questions about your family, any criminal past, and other personal information. You may also be asked to sign certain documents. You do not have to answer these questions and you do not have to sign any documents. Your answer may establish a reason for your deportation. Instead, you should contact a lawyer.
Keep in Mind
If an ICE or Border Patrol agent comes on your property or stops you, try and get their name, badge number, and any other identifying information. It is not a violation of the law to videotape or record an interaction with an officer on private property or at traffic stops. You cannot record on government property. If you are stopped in a public place, you do not have to answer questions or provide identification. If you are not free to leave, then you have the right to remain silent. Never provide fake documents.
We have helped many individuals overcome these illegal traffic stops. First, know your rights. Next, contact the knowledgeable immigration attorneys at Burgos and Associates at 504-488-3722.