The information in this blog is intended to inform those choosing to engage in peaceful protests and is not a substitute for legal advice from a licensed attorney.
It is important to know your rights so you can be well informed during protests and demonstrations. This information is NOT intended to discourage anyone from participating in a protest or demonstration or otherwise exercise his or her freedom of speech and expression. Rather, this information is being provided so that non-US citizens can safely participate in protests and demonstrations without jeopardizing their immigration status.
A criminal conviction, even a misdemeanor, may have serious immigration consequences up to and including deportation from the United States.
Seemingly minor crimes such as simple assault, disorderly conduct, minor theft offenses, and
“terroristic threats” could have major immigration consequences. In the context of protests and demonstrations, it is particularly important to note that saying/shouting anything that could be construed as a threat, or encouraging others to break the law is a crime and could have serious immigration consequences. Further, acts such as hitting, striking, pushing, shoving, punching, kicking and similar conduct (known as “assault”) are a crime and may have serious consequences – especially if it is an assault of a police officer or public official (regardless of how slight the touching is) which may result in being placed in deportation proceedings or jeopardize your chances of becoming a green card holder or U.S. citizen.
While participating in demonstrations or protests please remember the following:
DO NOT resist arrest, even if you believe you are completely innocent.
DO exercise your right to remain silent. If you are placed under arrest DO NOT say anything other than “I would like to speak to a lawyer.” Remember, many convictions happen based on actions, words, or conduct committed after the police have engaged you.
DO NOT plead guilty or admit guilt in any fashion unless you understand the immigration consequences of your plea. If you are arrested and charged criminally, you are entitled to a free criminal defense attorney in your criminal proceedings. Ask your defense attorney about the effect of the criminal conviction or plea on your immigration status. Ask your defense attorney to talk to an immigration attorney.
The ACLU has resources that provide guidance on your rights as protestors. Keep in mind that the police can arrest individuals even if the law doesn’t support them. If you are undocumented, AILA has handouts in multiple languages on your rights if you encounter ICE in public.
The materials available on this website, including third-party links, are provided for general informational purposes only. They do not constitute legal advice and we make no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site. This website is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship between you and Solow, Isbell & Palladino, LLC (SIP Immigration). You should not act or rely on any information available in or from this website without seeking the advice of an attorney.
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