Know Your Rights

These materials have been put together by the SOA Watch Legal Collective to help individuals defend their rights and better understand the immigration risks in Arizona and Tucson and Nogales specifically. If you have specific questions or don’t have the documents to prove your immigration status, please speak with an immigration lawyer before traveling.
This year’s School of the Americas Watch Encuentro will happen along the border in ambos Nogales (Nogales, Arizona/Sonora) .

Defend Your Rights

In Arizona, if you are stopped by the police while driving, you must show your drivers license and give your name but otherwise you can and should remain silent.

You have the right to not speak to a police officer or ICE agent. In Arizona, you only have to give the police your name (AZ State Statue 13-2412). A police officer can ask you anything they want, but it is your right to remain silent and not answer any question. You can help an officer by giving other documents with your name (like a bank ID/school ID) but you should not show documents from another country.
Driving without a drivers license is a crime (a misdemeanor) in Arizona, but an arrest is not justified unless you provide more information that can incriminate you. If you do not admit to or say anything, it will be more difficult to justify an arrest.

Do not answer questions by the police about your immigration status.

If police ask you about your immigration status, remain silent. You only have to give the police in Arizona your name. Police can ask for proof of status, but cannot demand it.
Police cannot make an arrest solely to ask about immigration status. Police could call CBP to make the arrest, but should not be delaying the stop to do this.

Do not sign anything given to you by ICE until you talk to a lawyer.

If ICE detains you, they will try to pressure you to sign a “voluntary departure”. This means you are signing agreeing to be deported. Demand your right to talk to a lawyer before signing any papers.

Prepare a plan of action to protect your family and keep your documents in a safe place.

“Powers of attorney” allow people you trust to make important decisions in case you are arrested. For example, it can allow someone else to make decisions to care for your child or decisions about your finances. You should prepare a notarized power of attorney before you travel.

Keep all important documents somewhere safe and tell someone you trust where they are. Keep the original power of attorney with your documents but carry a copy.

I am not a US citizen: Travel Risks in Arizona

Special Tip! If you are a citizen, or have authorization to be in the US (visa/green card/TPS) bring your passport and documents to Arizona!

Arizona can be a more dangerous place to travel for people without status because of checkpoints and police stops that often involve questioning about immigration status (because of SB 1070).

  • A checkpoint is like a border — immigration will likely ask and are allowed to ask for your documents when crossing. See below for what happens at a checkpoint and how to try to avoid them. There is a checkpoint between Tucson and Nogales!
  • See above for what to do if you are stopped by the police.

Traveling to Tucson

Organizing has made checkpoints less likely in Tucson but CBP sometimes drives around and can request proof of status if they stop your car. There will be also be a Person of Color Space in Tucson, Arizona so that undocumented persons may attend the Convergence without having to travel to Nogales.
Traveling to Nogales, Arizona – There is a checkpoint between Nogoles and Tuscon. At a checkpoint, CBP will likely check everyone’s documents. Checkpoints are similar to international border crossings.

Traveling to Nogales, Mexico

You will have to cross an international border to get to Nogales, Mexico. Bring all documents required to cross an international border. DACA/TPS recipe

What to bring?

  • US Citizens – your passport
  • Permanent residents – your unexpired green card and a valid state/federal ID card
  • TPS – your EAD and a state or federal ID card. To go to Mexico, you need to obtain an I-131 Advance Parole Doc.
  • DACA – your EAD and a state or federal ID card. To go to Mexico, you need to obtain an I-131 Advance Parole Doc.
  • Undocumented – any ID with your name on it. Not documents from a foreign country. Undocumented persons will not be able to re-enter the U.S. without authorization. Again, there will be a Person of Color Space in Tucson, Arizona so that undocumented persons who choose not to travel outside the country may attend the Encuentro after learning about and accepting the risks related to traveling to Tucson.

What Happens at a Checkpoint?

Immigration agents have set up checkpoints within 100 miles of the border in Arizona. All persons within 100 miles of a border could be stopped and questioned about their immigration status by Customs and Border Patrol. There is a checkpoint between Nogales and Tucson.

Check your route to see if there is a checkpoint — This link takes you to a google map in which known temporary and permanent CBP checkpoints are located. Author and reliability of this information are unknown, but checkpoint locations appear to be correct.

At a checkpoint, Border Patrol may stop vehicles to: (1) ask a few, limited questions to verify citizenship of the vehicles’ occupants and (2) visually inspect the exterior of a vehicle.

  • Agents may send any vehicle to a secondary inspection area for the same purpose: brief questioning and visual inspection.
  • Agents should not ask questions unrelated to verifying citizenship, nor can they hold you for an extended time without cause.

Can I stay silent?

Even though you always have the right to remain silent, if you don’t answer questions to establish your citizenship, officials may detain you longer in order to verify your immigration status.

Can CBP search my car?

Border Patrol cannot search the interior of a car without the owner’s consent or “probable cause” (a reasonable belief, based on the circumstances, that an immigration violation or crime has likely occurred), BUT agents can obtain probable cause for a search if a drug-sniffing dog legitimately “alerts” to the presence of drugs.

I am not a citizen: What Happens if I am Arrested by Police or ICE?

If you are arrested as a non-citizen by the police, you very likely will be transferred to ICE to a an immigration detention center. You can try to bond out of the jail but if you have a hold, the jail will not let you be released from the jail.

All the jails in the area will accept ICE’s “holds” which allows ICE to request that someone they think is undocumented should be transferred to ICE custody. Special risk! You are most likely to be transferred if ICE believes you are undocumented, are not a citizen and you have committed a crime that makes you deportable, already have a deportation order on your immigration record.

Once you are transferred to immigration detention, you will either have to stay detained or you might be able to bond out of immigration detention. Special risk! In general, if you have a prior deportation order or a serious criminal charges (see below for more details) you cannot bond out of immigration detention.

See this list of “mandatory detention” crimes that do not let you bond out of immigration detention.

For more information, see ACLU’s rights on the border.