Immigrants' Rights in Nebraska

People from diverse cultural, ethnic and geographic backgrounds call Nebraska home. It is important that everyone knows that all of us have rights and all of us belong. 


Census numbers show about 140,000 immigrants call Nebraska home. This count is supposed to include Nebraskans without current immigration status or citizenship in the U.S., but census officials say they often have difficulty counting undocumented community members — so the number is likely even larger.  

Immigrant Nebraskans are our friends, family members and neighbors. They are students, teachers, military members, healthcare and social workers and more. They also contribute financially to our communities. Undocumented immigrants in Nebraska alone pay an estimated $43 million in state and local taxes every year.  

Immigrants are part of what makes Nebraska special. Their rights must be respected, defended and expanded. 


Every Nebraskan, regardless of their immigration status, has constitutional rights and protections in the U.S. 

Law enforcement asks about my immigration status 

How to reduce risk to yourself  

  • Stay calm. Don’t run, argue, resist, or obstruct the officer, even if you believe your rights are being violated. Keep your hands where police can see them. 
  • Don’t lie about your status, provide false documents or documents that can be used to prove your nationality of a country besides the U.S. 

Your rights 

  • You have the right to remain silent and do not have to discuss your immigration status or country of nationality with police, immigration agents, or other officials. Anything you tell an officer can later be used against you in court, including immigration court.  
  • If you are not a U.S. citizen and an immigration agent requests your immigration papers, you must show them if you have them with you.  
  • If an immigration agent asks if they can search you, you have the right to say no. Agents do not have the right to search you or your belongings without your consent or probable cause.  

What to do in such an encounter  

  • In Nebraska, you must provide your name to law enforcement if you are stopped and told to identify yourself. But even if you give your name, you don’t have to answer any other questions. 
  • In Nebraska, you are required to have a valid U.S. driver’s license to drive. If you are driving and are pulled over, the officer can require you to show your driver’s license, vehicle registration and proof of insurance, but you don’t have to answer questions about your immigration status. 
  • Customs officers can ask about your immigration status when entering or leaving the country. If you are a lawful permanent resident (LPR) who has maintained your status, you only have to answer questions establishing your identity and permanent residency. Refusal to answer other questions will likely cause delay, but officials may not deny you entry into the United States for failure to answer other questions. If you are a non-citizen visa holder, you may be denied entry into the U.S. if you refuse to answer officers’ questions. 

I’ve been stopped by police or U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement 

How to reduce risk to yourself  

  • Stay calm and do not resist or obstruct the agents or officers. 
  • Do not lie, give false documents, or documents that can be used to prove your nationality of a country besides the U.S. 
  • Prepare yourself and your family in case you are arrested. Memorize the phone numbers of your family and your lawyer. Make emergency plans if you have children or take medication. 

Your rights 

  • You have the right to remain silent. If you wish to exercise that right, say so out loud. In Nebraska, you are required to only provide your name if asked to identify yourself. 
  • You do not have to consent to a search of yourself or your belongings, but police may pat down your clothing if they suspect a weapon. 
  • If you are arrested by police, you have the right to a government-appointed lawyer in the criminal case if you are facing potential incarceration. 
  • If you are detained by ICE, you have the right to consult with a lawyer, but the government is not required to provide one for you in the immigration case. You can ask for a list of free or low-cost immigration legal service providers. 
  • You do not have to answer questions about where you were born, whether you are a U.S. citizen, or how you entered the country. (Separate rules apply at international borders and airports, and for individuals on certain nonimmigrant visas, including tourists and business travelers.) 

What to do if you are arrested or detained  

  • Say you wish to remain silent and ask for a lawyer immediately. Don’t give any explanations or excuses. Don’t say anything, sign anything, or make any decisions without a lawyer. 
  • If you have been arrested by police, you have the right to make a local phone call. The police cannot listen to the call if you are calling a lawyer. 
  • If you have been detained by ICE, you have the right to contact your consulate or have an officer inform the consulate of your detention. Ask the ICE agents to give you a hearing date as soon as possible. 
  • If you are a non-citizen arrested for a criminal violation: Ask your lawyer about the effect of a criminal conviction or plea on your immigration status. Don’t discuss your immigration status with anyone but your lawyer. While you are in jail, an immigration agent may visit you. Do not answer questions or sign anything before talking to a lawyer. Read all papers fully. If you do not understand or cannot read the papers, tell the officer you need an interpreter. 

If you believe your rights were violated 

  • Write down everything you remember, including officers’ badges and patrol car numbers, which agency the officers were from, and any other details. Get contact information for witnesses. 
  • If you’re injured, seek medical attention immediately and take photographs of your injuries. 
  • File a written complaint with the agency’s internal affairs division or civilian complaint board. In most cases, you can file a complaint anonymously if you wish. 

Police or ICE are at my home

How to reduce risk to yourself 

  • Stay calm and keep the door closed. Never open the door unless a valid warrant has been provided and slipped under the door.  

Your rights 

  • You have the right to remain silent, even if the officer has a warrant. You do not have to let police or immigration agents into your home unless they have a search warrant signed by a judge with the correct information, including the correct address. 
  • If police have an arrest warrant signed by a judge, they are legally allowed to enter the home of the person on the warrant if they believe that person is inside. 
  • If immigration agents have an arrest warrant (“ICE warrant”), they are not allowed to enter a home without consent, even if they believe the person is inside. 

What to do when the police or ICE arrive   

  • Ask if they are immigration agents and what they are there for. 
  • Ask the agent or officer to show you a badge or identification through the window or peephole. 
  • Ask if they have a warrant signed by a judge. If they say they do, ask them to slide it under the door or hold it up to a window so you can inspect it. Do not open the door. 
  • Don’t lie or produce any false documents, or documents revealing your country of origin. Don’t sign anything without speaking with a lawyer first. 
  • Do not open your door unless ICE shows you a search warrant signed by a judge or arrest warrant signed by a judge naming a person inside your residence and/or areas to be searched at your address. If they don’t produce a warrant signed by a judge, even if they present an ICE warrant, keep the door closed. State: “I do not consent to your entry.” 
  • If agents force their way in, do not resist. If you wish to exercise your rights, state: “I do not consent to your entry or to your search of these premises. I am exercising my right to remain silent. I wish to speak with a lawyer as soon as possible.” 
  • If you are on probation with a search condition, law enforcement is allowed to enter your home.  

I am detained while my immigration case is underway

Your rights 

  • Most people who are detained while their case is underway are eligible to be released on bond or with other reporting conditions. 
  • You have the right to call a lawyer or your family if you are detained, and you have the right to be visited by a lawyer in detention.  
  • You have the right to have your attorney with you at any hearing before an immigration judge. 

What to do if you are detained  

  • If you are denied release after being arrested for an immigration violation, ask for a bond hearing before an immigration judge. In many cases, an immigration judge can order that you be released or that your bond be lowered. 

Learn more on how you can plan ahead if you are facing detainment, removal, or deportation.

Click here to print your own Know Your Rights Cards at home

I’m confused on if I can apply for rental assistance 

Emergency rental assistance is available to those financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic regardless of immigration status. For more information for renters in the City of Omaha you can visit For renters in Lincoln, please click here. For everywhere else in the state of Nebraska you can visit Note that Nebraska’s statewide application currently includes a citizenship status requirement and the deadline to apply is September 9, 2022.  

My housing rights may have been violated

It is illegal for a landlord, owner, property manager, or real estate agent to treat you differently because of your immigration status or national origin. Specifically, they cannot:  

  • Refuse to rent to you because you or some of your family members do not speak English, or require you to speak English when outside of your apartment;  
  • Force you to choose an apartment near other people who are from the same country or speak the same language as you;  
  • Treat you differently or enforce rules against you or your family because you are an immigrant or refugee, but not enforce those rules against anyone else;  
  • Harass or threaten you, including threats of removal/deportation or telling you to return to your country of origin; 
  • Refuse to rent to you or require a cosigner because you are an immigrant or refugee from a particular country, or not from the U.S.; or  
  • Charge you more rent or a higher security deposit because of where you are from.  

If you experience housing discrimination, please contact an organization or agency that investigates discrimination in your community. The Nebraska Equal Opportunity Commission (NEOC) investigates housing discrimination allegations across the state. 

I’m Concerned about Racial Profiling in my Community 

Racial profiling is a pervasive problem and there are some harmful programs that only exacerbate patterns of racial profiling in immigrant communities. Every Nebraskan, regardless of their immigration status has the same constitutional rights when interacting with law enforcement. 

Profiling happens across Nebraska and local law enforcement agencies have the power to take steps to prevent it. For example, we have been advocating for the Dakota County Sheriff’s Office to end its 287(g) agreement with the Department of Homeland Security. These agreements give local law enforcement agencies the authority to enforce federal immigration law outside of their local expertise. They increase racial profiling, destroy community trust and have a negative effect on public safety. To help stop the Dakota County 287(g) agreement, email Dakota County Sheriff Chris Kleinberg at

My rights are being violated at work 

In Nebraska, workers have the right to join a union without being threatened or retaliated against. You also have the right to not join a union and be threatened. You have the right to not be harassed or discriminated against. This right to discrimination-free workplace also includes pay inequity and employee benefits. 

The ACLU of Nebraska recognizes workers’ rights are connected to immigrants’ rights — that connection has been front and center during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

In early 2022, a House report exposed meatpacking companies' efforts to avoid oversight, force workers to be exposed to dangerous conditions and protect companies from legal liability. 

Even before this report was published, the ACLU of Nebraska has been extremely vocal and active in calling out the disparate impact of COVID-19 on Nebraskans of color, the lack of action to protect workers and the current need to implement much stronger protections.   

More needs to be done to protect Nebraska's workers. If you are a meatpacking plant worker who needs help, click here

I Need Help 

We know that navigating the legal system is difficult, overwhelming and at times intimidating. The ACLU of Nebraska and our incredible team of lawyers is a private, non-profit organization that focuses on constitutional rights.  

Contact us now.