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Things to Know



The Patriot Act was created to help police and government officials protect the safety of everyone living in America. It allows them to suspend or overrule some of our basic individual rights in order to maintain our safety. Many people feel the Patriot Act is an unnecessary tool used to take away our individual rights. This may be true, but maintaining the safety of all people who live in America is a difficult job and some individual sacrifices are necessary. The government’s resources are limited and it is unlikely that they would use the Patriot Act to invade your privacy. The Patriot Act is not designed to catch small-time criminals, undocumented immigrants, etc. unless they are acting in a way that would make the government think that they are involved in terrorist activities. If you are not involved in terrorist activities, don’t be paranoid. Homeland security has much bigger fish to fry than you.


• You always have the right to call or contact your lawyer or family if you have been detained or arrested or asked to sign documents. ( This right may not be available to you if you are being detained or arrested under the Patriot Act ).


Never physically touch, run away from or resist a police officer.


Always keep your hands where police can see them.


• If police have reason to think you are carrying a hidden weapon, they have the right to feel your clothing. Don’t carry things under your clothing that may look like a gun, knife, etc. A policeman’s job is to keep everyone safe. Help him by not acting sneaky or carrying objects under your clothing.


• Several cities have recently encouraged police officers to enforce federal immigration laws. This practice has created fear of deportation in immigrant communities. The primary job of local police departments is to protect and serve their community. While some local police officers may actively pursue immigration violations, many feel it is not their responsibility. When crime is involved, try to remember that the police are not your enemy. Police officers have the difficult job of trying to protect everyone, including undocumented immigrants. Crime against the undocumented is usually not reported because people are afraid of being deported. This makes officers' jobs difficult. If you want to improve your community report crime.


• If you're detained or arrested, you have the right to ask to be released. In order to be released, you may have to pay a "bond." Your lawyer will usually handle this by using a "bail bondsman" to put up the money for your release. The bail bondsman usually requires you, your family or friends to give money, sign over property or material goods to help guarantee that you will not try to run away. If you do run away, whatever was given or signed over to the bail bondsman will be lost. The bail bondsman then has the right to hunt you down. Running away after being released on bond is a criminal charge and can cause you to lose your right to appear before an immigration judge.


The only person that can have you deported is an immigration judge. If any government official asks or tries to force you to sign anything that says you agree to leave the country or waive ( give up ) your rights, do not do it. If you do, you can be deported without having the right to appear before an immigration judge.
Never sign anything until you have talked to or have your lawyer with you. The papers you sign may cause you to be deported without a court appearance before an immigration judge.


In certain situations, you do not have the right to appear before an immigration judge. A few of these situations are if you were arrested trying to enter the United States at the border, if you have been convicted of a crime or if you were ordered to be deported and did not leave.


If you are going to leave the borders of the United States for pleasure or because of immigration status issues, always talk to a lawyer before you go. If you don't, you may never be allowed to apply for permission to return. If you are undocumented you may not think that this matters but if you go outside the United States borders you lose the rights that you had inside the borders. Additionally, immigration laws are changing and this may end any hope of becoming legal in the future.


Always carry the name and phone number of an immigration lawyer with you. Make sure this lawyer knows you and will answer your phone calls. Immigration laws are very complicated and you do need a lawyer who understands them.


Demand your rights. Know the law and don't do anything that causes you to lose your rights.


Never carry or present false documents, sign papers without a lawyer present, lie, fight with or run away from government officials or police. These things may seem like a good thing to do at the time, but they can only cause you trouble in the future.


Undocumented individuals should never discuss their immigration status with anyone except their lawyer. Do not disclose your immigration status in e-mails. The e-mail may be used against you.



* Educate your child. Every child has a right to go to school regardless of immigration status. It is illegal for a school to ask you for your Social Security number or questions about your immigration situation or status. If a school demands this information, contact a lawyer or the ACLU. Education is the most important thing for your child's future and the future of the United States. Please don't deny your child this opportunity because of your own fears.


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