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Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty

Representing the 5th District of Connecticut


Know Your Rights - Resources for Immigrants

There are many rights that all people living in the United States are entitled to, regardless of their immigration status.  I want you to know that I will work to protect your rights and focus on immigration policies that keep families together. In these uncertain times I want you to know that my office is here for you.

What Are My Rights?


According to the U. S. Department of Justice and the U.S Department of Education,

  • A school district may not ask you about your child’s citizenship or immigration status to establish residency within the district, nor may a school district deny a homeless child (including a homeless child who is undocumented enrollment because he or she cannot provide the required documents to establish residency.
  • While a school district may choose to include a parent’s state- issued identification or driver’s license among the documents that can be used to establish residency, a school district may not require such documentation to establish residency or for other purposes where such a requirement would unlawfully bar a student whose parents are undocumented from enrolling in school.
  • A school district may not prevent your child from enrolling in or attending school if you choose not to provide your child’s social security number.
  • A school district may not require you to provide your own social security number in order for your child to enroll in school.

If you want to learn more about your rights and the rights of your child when enrolling in public school, or if you believe that a school district is violating federal law, please contact my office

You may also reach out directly to:

  • The Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Educational Opportunities Section

Telephone: 877-292-3804, Email:

  • The Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights

Telephone: 800-421-3481, Email:


Police and Public Safety

In February 2012, Sergio Brizuela filed a state-wide class action lawsuit, against the Connecticut Department of Corrections, regarding immigrants detained by law enforcement officers based on the request of an Immigration Detainer. Immigrants were being held under these detainers for extended periods of time. Findings from the lawsuit filed by Brizuela determined this violated individuals’ rights.

The lawsuit led to action and as of January 1st, 2014, immigrants cannot be detained for longer than forty-eight hours unless they were under prior removal orders, were a convicted felon, or poses a threat to the community. Since this case, data published by the Department of Corrections show that there have been fewer detainers. 

The law specifically states, “Upon determination by the law enforcement officer that such individual is to be detained or released, the law enforcement officer shall immediately notify United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement. If the individual is to be detained, the law enforcement officer shall inform the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement that the individual will be held for a maximum of forty-eight hours, excluding Saturdays, Sundays and federal holidays. If United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement fails to take custody of the individual within such forty-eight-hour period, the law enforcement officer shall release the individual. In no event shall an individual be detained for longer than such forty-eight-hour period solely on the basis of a civil immigration detainer.”

According to the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Immigration Law Center,

  • If you are taken into ICE custody you have the right to a lawyer, but the government will not provide you with one. If you do not have a lawyer, ask for a list of free or low-cost legal services.
  • Tell the immigration officer you wish to remain silent. Do not discuss your immigration status with anyone but your lawyer.
  • If the police or immigration agents come to your home, you don’t have to let them in unless they have a warrant.
  • Even if officers have a warrant, you may remain silent.


Legal Help

You have the right to seek legal representation.

Learn more about U.S. Department of Justice Recognized Organizations and Accredited Representatives.


Reporting Scams

If you feel that you may have been the victim of an immigration scam, please call my office at 860-223-8412.

  • According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services


Additional Resources

National Immigration Law Center

American Civil Liberties Union

National Council of La Raza

National Immigrant Justice Center

American Immigration Lawyers Association

The National Immigration Law Center’s “Know Your Rights”

U.S. Department of Education’s Fact Sheet for Families and School Staff