Know your responsibility as an American Muslim:
If you know of any criminal activity taking place in your community, it is both your religious and civic duty to immediately report such activity to local and federal law enforcement agencies.
Know your rights when contacted by a law enforcement officer:
- Understand that providing information to the FBI or any law enforcement officer, absent a subpoena, is strictly voluntary. You are not obligated under law to answer any questions from law enforcement officers other than providing them with an official identification card.
- You may choose to have an attorney accompany or represent you for any interview or questioning. We strongly recommend you consult with an attorney regarding the risks and benefits of being interviewed by law enforcement agents in your specific case. CAIR may provide legal assistance, or can refer you to an attorney.
- If FBI agents show up at your home or workplace and do not have a search or arrest warrant, you have no obligation to let them in.
- If they do have an arrest or search warrant, you can still exercise your right to remain silent. Comply with all directives and do not physically resist an officer. Be polite and respectful at all times. You also have the right to an attorney.
- If an agent or officer says they have some questions for you, you have the right to not speak to them and/or you may tell the agents or officers that you will have your attorney contact them if they wish to speak to you. Again, CAIR can provide legal assistance, or can refer you to an attorney.
- Note that anything you say to an agent or officer can be used against you in a court of law and that lying to an agent or officer is a criminal offense.
- Should you decide to speak to agents alone despite the risks, note that you may set the conditions of the interview, including choosing when and where the interview is to take place, having a third party present such as a family member or community leader, deciding which questions to answer, and refusing to sign any documents. You may cancel the interview at any time. (Ask the agent if you may record the interview.)
- Be sure to get the names, agencies, badge numbers, and business cards of all agents or officers.
- Contact your attorney and/or CAIR to report the interview/incident and to discuss what may happen next. If you feel that your civil rights were violated, you may also file a complaint with the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division. CAIR can help you with this process.
- If you live in San Diego or Imperial Counties, to file a civil rights complaint please email email@example.com
- For all others, to file a civil rights complaint with CAIR, please visit: http://www.cair.com/civil-rights/report-an-incident.html
If stopped by police:
- On the street: The police must have a specific reason to approach and question you. If you are approached and questioned, the police can pat you down over the outside of your clothing if they have reason to suspect that you are armed and dangerous. You do not have to answer any questions besides identifying who you are and showing a government-issued ID. After the interaction, you will be either free to leave or under arrest. Ask the officer clearly if you are free to leave or if you are under arrest. If you are free to leave, consider just walking away.
- In your car: Keep your hands where they can be seen. If you are driving a vehicle, you must show your license, registration and proof of insurance. You do not have to consent to a search, but police may have legal grounds to search your car anyway. Clearly say that you do not consent to the search. Officers may separate passengers and drivers from each other to question them, but no one has to answer any questions.
- If arrested or taken to a police station: Remember you do not have to talk to any police officer even if you have been arrested or detained. Clearly ask for a lawyer and one phone call until they are provided. If you cannot afford a lawyer, the government has to provide one.
- If mistreated: Do not resist arrest or fight with any police officers. Write down the officer’s name, badge number and any other identifying information. Try to find witnesses and write down their contact information. File a complaint with CAIR as soon after the event as possible.
If contacted by DHS:
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) includes the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
If you are not a U.S. citizen and are contacted by a DHS official, remember:
- You have the right to an attorney. It is a good idea to carry the contact information of an immigration attorney who can help you.
- Never sign anything without reading, understanding and knowing the consequences of signing it. You have the right to have an attorney visit you if you are in detention and represent you at any immigration hearings.
- Federal law requires you to carry your registration documents with you at all times. Once your immigration status has been shown to an officer, you do not have to answer any other questions without having a lawyer present.
- You should not be asked improper questions. No DHS officer may ask you anything about your religious or political beliefs, groups that you belong to or contribute to, things that you have done or said in the past, or where you have traveled.
[Please note: This above is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Should you have any questions about the material herein or about a specific case, please consult with your attorney.]
CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.