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Are immigrants protected by the Fifth Amendment?

On Behalf of | Sep 7, 2023 | Immigration Law

Citizens of the United States enjoy some broad legal protections that aren’t available in all countries. Notably, the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides several important protections – and most citizens have at least a passing familiarity with these.

But, what about immigrants? 

Immigrants, whether they are documented, undocumented, legal permanent residents or non-citizens currently in the U.S. on some kind of temporary visa for work or school, are generally protected by the Fifth Amendment – just like citizens. 

However, it’s important to know that actions by immigration authorities are considered civil cases, not criminal ones – and that means that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers do not have to give you any Miranda reminders about your rights.

What rights does the Fifth Amendment offer?

Since you can’t rely on ICE to give you a Miranda Warning, it’s incredibly important to learn your rights so that you can rely on them if you’re ever detained. They include:

  • The right against self-incrimination: You cannot be compelled to be a witness against yourself. Assert your right to remain silent until you have representation early – and repeat yourself as often as necessary. Don’t let an ICE agent trick you into believing that anything you say can improve your situation.
  • The right to due process: “Due process” is the application of the law and all its proper procedures, and it’s what keeps the government from just acting at will to deprive people of their lives, freedoms and property. For immigrants, due process may include evidentiary hearings and more – but ICE may try to get you to sign waivers or agreements that forgo your rights. 
  • The right to an attorney: It’s a mistake to believe that you’ll automatically be given an attorney. You need to ask for one. (Remember, however, that since deportation is a civil matter, you will usually not be provided with a public defender.)

Anytime someone is detained by ICE, deportation is a possibility. An experienced defense can be the only possible way of obtaining a favorable outcome.