Know Your Rights

At a time when immigrant communities face constant attack, it is crucial that immigrants know their rights, familiarize themselves with laws that could protect them, and understand their options for accessing government services.

Keeping yourself informed is a key tool to protecting yourself and your family. Empower yourself with information on federal and state laws regarding immigrants, make a plan in the event that an emergency occurs, and keep up to date on new laws and developments regarding immigration below.


Your Right and Responsibility to Be Prepared


Emergencies happen, often when we least expect them. It is your right and responsibility to stay informed, and create an emergency plan for you and your family, to defend your rights, and theirs, before your family is affected. Creating an emergency plan is easy. Just follow these three steps:


GATHER key information, including those listed below, and keep it in a safe and accessible place:

  • Documents (birth certificates, passports, etc.), important contacts, and resources.
  • Legal document giving authority to your spouse or another person you choose to be able to make decisions for you.
    • Example: With a signed power of attorney, your spouse could sell your car, even if the title is in your name.
  • Legal document that will help you prepare for long-term separation. Consider selecting a family member or trusted friend to serve as a temporary guardian for your children.
  • Form G-28: This form allows you to obtain legal representation before you need it. You sign it, but a lawyer does not have to sign it at the same time. If you are arrested, the form you signed will make it easier for an attorney to meet with you.

CREATE the plan and write it down:

  • Write down the family schedule that includes the time of arrival and departure from work, school and the common or usual routes that your family takes to go to work or school.
  • Make a list with contact information of family and friends who can help if any member of the family is detained.

SHARE with trusted family members:

  • Have a family meeting with your partner and children, and calmly explain what the real risks are to deportation.
  • Review the plan together and make sure each family member knows what they need to do in case of an emergency.

For more information on how to create a Family Preparation plan, click here.


Your Rights When Law Enforcement Knocks on Your Door


1. If immigration officials (CBP / ICE) or the police attempt to enter your house: DO NOT open the door. Ask the officers to identify themselves and show a “warrant” from under the door or through a window. Verify that the warrant authorizes them to enter your specific address and property.

2. Officers must have a warrant to enter. The warrant should include the word “WARRANT” & your address. If it does not, the officers are not authorized to enter and you should not give them permission to do so.

3. If the officers enter anyway:

Do not try to stop them.
Tell them that they do not have your permission to enter.
Try to get their names or badge numbers to file a complaint.


4. If officers have a valid warrant:

They may enter your home but can ONLY search for people or items listed on the warrant.
Verify this information before they enter your home.

5. If detained, exercise your right to remain silent.

You do not have to speak to an officer.
You can remain silent or tell the officer you want to speak to an attorney or your consulate first.
You do not have to answer questions or present documents with your name, age, national origin, birthplace, or immigration status.
Do not sign anything you do not understand.

6. Do not lie to officers.

Do not present false documents or lie.
This will only make the situation worse.

If you are arrested, remember:

You have the right to remain silent and not answer any questions.
You have the right to ask to speak with your attorney or consulate.
Do not sign any documents that you do not understand.

Check out our Upcoming Events page to find a Know Your Rights presentation in your community.


Your Rights in California



SB 54  ‘The California Values Act’

On October 5, 2017, Governor Jerry Brown signed SB 54, which then went into effect January 4, 2018 (although some provisions will not go into effect until October of 2018). SB 54 prohibits California state and local law enforcement agencies, including school police departments, from using agency or department money or personnel to investigate, interrogate, detain, detect, or arrest persons for immigration enforcement purposes, creating safer spaces for immigrant families within their communities, in areas such as schools, health care facilities, and courthouses.

Under SB 54, local law enforcement CANNOT ask about immigration status, or use immigration agents, including Border Patrol, as interpreters. Local law enforcement CANNOT make arrests on civil immigration warrants, they CANNOT make immigration holds, and they CANNOT share personal information about individuals, such as home or work addresses, with ICE, unless the information is publicly available. Local law enforcement is PROHIBITED from notifying ICE of release dates, or from transferring individuals into ICE custody, except where allowed under the Trust Act.

Protecting your rights under California law is also your responsibility. Report any suspected violation of SB 54 to the ICE out of CA Hotline: 1-844-878-7801 OR 1-844-TRUST-01, or fill out their PDF form, and email it to [email protected].

AB 60 - Driver's Licenses

In October of 2013, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law AB 60, which allows undocumented immigrants living in California to apply for a driver’s license.

To apply for an AB 60 driver’s license you will need to:

  • Fill out the DL-44 license application.
  • Pay $33 for the application fee.
  • Prove your identity.
  • Prove that you live in CA.
  • Give a thumbprint, have your picture taken, and pass a vision test.
  • Pass a written test to prove that you know the rules of the road.

Once you have passed the written test, the DMV will issue you a permit to practice driving with another licensed driver.

Once you have had enough practice on the road, make a follow-up appointment with the DMV to take the behind-the-wheel test. Take proof of auto insurance for your vehicle when you go for the behind-the-wheel test.

After passing the behind-the-wheel test the DMV will issue you an AB 60 driver’s license.

Make an appointment with the DMV to apply for an AB 60 license by calling 1-800-777-0133 or click here to make an appointment online.

Note: AB 60 driver’s licenses have a visible distinguishing mark which only allows them to be used for driving and cannot be used for federal or other purposes such as boarding a plane. If you have concerns with applying for a driver’s license because of your immigration or criminal record, we suggest that you talk to an attorney before you apply.

You do not need to pay anyone for information or services to help you apply for the AB 60 licenses. If anyone is charging you for this, they are breaking the law.

Your Right to Health Care

Despite the uncertainty of the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) future, the law is still intact, including the fines for individuals who do not have insurance by the January 31st deadline. Also still intact is a recent California law, passed in May of 2016, that expands Medi-Cal to all children under the age of 19, regardless of immigration status.

We believe that no one, regardless of their immigration status, should be without healthcare coverage. Although currently, coverage for undocumented families is limited, there are some options available today. Find more information on ACA coverage for non-citizens and how to sign up here.


In California, DACA recipients may be eligible for full-scope Medi-Cal, based on income. Full-scope Medi-Cal has expanded to ALL low-income children (up to 19 years of age), regardless of their immigration status, in California. To enroll in full scope Medi-Cal, you can do so in person at your local county office, call 1-866-262-9881 to make an appointment, or enroll online here.


In California, undocumented individuals may be eligible for Limited/ Emergency Medi-Cal, based on income. Enroll in Limited/ Emergency Medi-Cal in person at a local county office, or enroll at a county hospital after receiving emergency care services.


Since May 16, 2016, all low-income children, regardless of immigration status, are able to enroll in health coverage and get care. For more information about how to enroll click here.

Note: Undocumented families and those who have the DACA status are not covered under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) or Covered California and therefore they are exempt from the mandate.

Do not be afraid of accessing the medical options that are available to immigrants. Immigrants are lawfully permitted to receive Medi-Cal in California, and may safely benefit from the services.