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Police Officers Detaining Innocents Due To Immigration Status: Know Your Rights


The police questioning innocent people about their immigration has become a serious civil rights issue; not just in states like Texas, but in Florida as well, where recently, a police officer called to an accident after a man was hit by a truck first asked about his immigration status instead of offering him medical care.

Most local sheriffs and police offices in Florida do not have an official policy to notify the federal authorities when they arrest people suspected of being undocumented. In addition, in the instance of an accident like that, immigration status should not have been the officer’s primary concern. Officers are supposed to treat people with dignity, good faith, and equity; without discrimination; and have consideration for the values and cultural sensitivities for all groups in the community.

“Sanctuary City” Laws

The Trump administration and Florida House have both threatened penalties against “sanctuary cities,” or those who refuse to turn over suspected undocumented immigrants to federal authorities. As a result, statistics indicate that there’s been a significant drop in crime reporting by immigrants all over the country. According to a recent survey, close to 80 percent of immigrant survivors of domestic violence, human trafficking, and sexual assault reported fears over contacting the police. Many are afraid to engage in basic everyday activities, such as driving.

Constitutional Concerns

And yet laws like these which outlaw sanctuary entities and seek to punish officials who do not cooperate with federal immigration detainers (requests by agents to turn over immigrants subject to possible deportation) have been held, in part, to be unconstitutional by judges in some states where they’ve been challenged, like Texas. Perhaps most disturbingly, they encourage rampant discrimination and racial profiling.

Safety concerns are also an issue: certain individuals could become more likely to become crime victims under the assumption that they won’t report it or provide witness statements to the police.

Know Your Rights

If an immigration or law enforcement officer detains you, choose to exercise your right to remain silent and refuse to answer questions. If you are detained, request to contact an experienced civil rights attorney right away and refuse to sign anything until you consult with your attorney.

Specifically, your 5th amendment rights protect you from having to speak with law enforcement, answer their questions, or sign any documents; and your 4th amendment rights protect your home from being entered and searched unless police officers have a warrant to enter, which has been signed by a judge or magistrate with your name on it, and which they first slide under the door. 

Civil Rights Lawyers Serving  Florida and Massachusetts

Under both the U.S. Constitution, you have certain guaranteed civil rights. When these are violated, we will work to ensure that your rights are defended and you are compensated for any harm. Contact the experienced civil rights and criminal defense attorneys at the Baez Law Firm today to find out more.




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