Do I have the right to remain silent?

Particularly if you are not currently a U.S. citizen, understanding what rights you have when dealing with law enforcement is vital. Many of the privileges that U.S. citizens enjoy also apply to you if you are not a citizen yourself.

One of these rights is the right to remain silent, even if an officer of the law is asking you about your immigration status. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, as a non-citizen you have the right to not discuss your immigration or citizenship status with anybody, including the police.  

What should I do if somebody asks for my immigration papers? 

In the event that you are not a US citizen and an immigration officer requests your papers, you must show them if you have them with you. If you are over the age of 18, you should carry your paperwork with you at all times to prove that you are in the country illegally.

However, if for some reason you do not have your immigration paperwork with you, you can tell the police that you would like to exercise your right to remain silent.  

What can I do to stay safe if stopped by the police? 

The best thing to do if the police pull you over is to stay calm. Do not try to run from the officers and do not try to resist. Keep your hands where the police can see them. You can claim your right to remain silent.

You absolutely should not lie about your citizenship status. It is better to stay silent than it is to lie. You will not get in trouble for silence, but lying can cause you big problems.