"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:
I lift up my lamp beside the golden door."
-from "The New Colossus" by Emma Lazarus
The United States of America was built on the blood, sweat and tears of immigrants. Whether one is white, black, brown or yellow is irrelevant and immaterial since we all have a part in its creation and continuing existence as a safe haven for all peace- loving and hard- working people. What it is now is the product of the combined work of the hands and brains of every person who landed on its shores centuries ago up to the present; a country that is the melting pot of all the peoples of the world.
But in this day and age of Ethnic Profiling and the Post 9-11 Paranoia it is advisable for all peace- loving and law- abiding immigrants especially if one is a Person of Color in the Land of the Free to know what our rights and responsibilities are so that we know what we have to do if the need arises.
In the next couple of days I will be blogging about things that prompted me to study the immigration laws and the rights of the immigrants in America that lead me to the American Civil Liberties Union website and to the path of enlightenment.
That is, I will be sharing with you some stories that actually happened to some of my friends and acquaintances here in the State of Michigan from the hands of the very people who are sworn to protect and uphold the basic tenets of human rights that should be accorded to every legal immigrant by its laws.
It will be a tell- all and no- holds barred thing that I'll assure you.
Meanwhile, it is about time to know some of the “basic” Rights and Responsibilities as a Legal Immigrant in the United States, if confronted by the “authorities.”
Know Your Rights and Responsibilities as a Legal Immigrant in the United States of America:
WHAT TO DO IF.....
YOU ARE STOPPED BY
IMMIGRATION AGENTS OR
POLICE WHILE ON FOOT.
First, always ask the agents or
police if you are free to go. If they
say yes, you have an absolute right
to remain silent and leave.
If you do not want to talk to the agents or
police, you may hand the agent your
attorney’s card, or the Rights Card,
and go. You have the absolute right
not to answer any questions posed
If the agents or police say that you
are not free to go, you should give
them your name. You do not have to
give any other information, such as
your address or immigration status
IMMIGRATION AGENTS OR
POLICE COME TO YOUR HOME
You do not have to open the door to
any immigration agent or police officer
unless they have a search warrant from
If you do not want to let an agent or
officer inside, do not open the door.
Ask the agent or officer, through the door, if
they have a search warrant from a court
allowing them to search your home.
You have a right to review the warrant.
If you live in someone else’s house, you
still do not have to open the door unless
the agents or police have a search
warrant from a court.
YOUR CAR IS PULLED OVER
BY IMMIGRATION AGENTS OR
If immigration agents or police
signal you to stop your car, you
must pull over.
Immigration agents may ask brief questions
about your name, immigration
status, nationality, and travel
plans. You do not have to answer
any questions other than giving
Police officers may ask for your
name, drivers license and vehicle
registration. You should show
these documents if you have them.
You do not have to answer any
If an agent or officer asks to
search your car, you may refuse to
give him permission.
If an agent or officer questions
a passenger, that person should
ask if he or she has to answer. If
the agent or officer says yes, the
passenger has to give his or her
name, but does not have to give
any other information. The agent
may ask you and your passenger
to exit the car.
Be polite and calm.
Never lie or give false information to
an immigration agent or police.
Do not carry false ID.
Carry the name and phone number of
an immigration attorney who will take
IF YOU ARE ARRESTED:
Give the name or card of your attorney
to the agents, and ask to speak to your
If you do not have an attorney, ask for the
list of free legal services for your area.
Do not sign anything without talking to an
Do not sign anything in a language you do
It is illegal for agents or police to pick
someone out for questioning because
of his or her ethnicity or race.
You have a right to be treated with
dignity and respect. If you are beaten,
threatened, called racist names,
or mistreated, you have a right to
complain about that treatment.
Be aware that just because you know
your rights and choose to exercise
them does not mean that the agents or
police will follow the law and respect
Your Rights Card:
Thanks to the American Civil Liberties Union
Visit their Website for further details @
Here's a poem I've written years ago that was the Spotlight Poem of the Day for September 15, 2003 in the "old" Poetism.com poetry website as a tribute to the late Puerto Rican Poet, Miguel Piñero which I find relevant in a way to the topic of this post.
The F*ck#n Truth (Ode to Miguel Piñero)
Have you seen the writings on the wall?
Yes, I have rewritten some of the graffiti
The message will no longer feel empty.
Stop rambling and grumbling there, dude
I am not afraid of your f*ck#n mood
I am the boy n d hood, the man of the hour,
the toast of everyone.
I came from downtown, uptown and across town.
North side, west side, east side
Downside, stateside and quayside
I would change the phrases if I like
You cant do anything about it, man
Your walls will bear fruits and flowers
By the stroke of my magic palette
Egg white, egg yolk, brain stroke,
Full heart, brave one and sand man,
Whole life, half-life, death and
It doesn't really matter, my man
Whether you rumbled and tumbled
And burned you a** in the fire.
Black, brown, yellow and white
We all live under the same sun.