What to do if you are not a United States Citizen and you are Detained at the Airport
Illegal immigration is being enforced at record levels in the United States. President Trump is on pace to deport more non-U.S. citizens than any other president. The airport is one of the most targeted area of immigration enforcement. You need to know your rights when encountered by ICE or CBP.
Speak to an Immigration Attorney before Leaving the United StatesThere can be many issues in one' immigration history that make an individual inadmissible (not legally allowed to enter) into the United States. For example criminal convictions, fraudulent marriages, inconsistent paperwork on prior applications, or your travel history could result in an officer concluding that you are barred from entering the United States after traveling internationally. These problems might not have been discovered if you had not left the United States. Therefore, a consultation with an attorney can be invaluable because he can advise you whether your international travel is a good idea in the first place.
Bring all Documentation on your TripMany times when you are being detained by immigration, CBP officials need to clarify certain information. Therefore, it is in your best interest to bring anything that CBP may or could want to see if you are detained. Obviously, you must bring your identification including, passport, drivers license, visa, green card, etc. However, it may also be a good idea to bring certified copies of any criminal records, marriage certificates, divorce decrees, children's birth certificates, and prior immigration applications with the final decision.
Know Your RightsIf you are detained or arrested upon entering the United States, you have rights. Your rights will depend on whether you a legal permanent resident or simply hold a visa. If you are being questioned by a CBP officer, then they likely believe that you have committed some immigration violation. This could involve your travel history, your marriage or potential marriage, your criminal record, or your membership to certain organizations. The list is endless.
You are required to answer questions regarding your identity, immigration status, and standard customs related questions. You are not required to answer questions related to criminal charges or any other questions involving potential immigration violations. In fact, your answers to those questions can be used against you in both criminal and immigration court in the future.
You don't have the right to an attorney like in criminal cases which is why you should speak with one prior to your trip. After you are interviewed by a CBP officer, he will make the decision whether or not to admit you into the United States. If you are a legal permanent resident and not admitted into the United States, you will likely be placed in removal proceedings and brought to a detention facility. If you are not a legal permanent resident and are refused admission, you will either be brought to a detention facility or given the opportunity to withdraw admission and return to your home country.
After you are released, it is advisable to save all documentation and consult an attorney to see what your options are to either maintain or change your immigration status.