Dealing with law enforcement is often a stressful situation. Whether you are suspected of a crime or otherwise involved, you might struggle to maintain a calm demeanor and handle the interaction effectively. Doing so might be even more of a struggle if you are an immigrant and a non-native English speaker. There are many challenges, in fact, that immigrants face when dealing with law enforcement.
The following are three of the most common to take into consideration. If you are an immigrant or non-native English speaker, be aware of these challenges, and remember that you are under no obligation to interact with law enforcement without counsel from a legal representative.
1. Language barrier
According to the USC Tómas Rivera Policy Institute, language barriers commonly inhibit communication between law enforcement and non-native English speakers. Law enforcement should be trained in handling such situations and finding a translator, but too often, they simply disregard the obvious obstacle and attempt to collect information from people who do not understand the conversation that is taking place
2. Unfair discrimination
Language barriers are a common obstacle for immigrants, and so is unfair discrimination. Unfortunately, law enforcement officers are human, and they are susceptible to the same vulnerabilities as any other profession. This includes having a perspective that is unjustly colored by prejudice. Immigrants may experience discrimination and different treatment at the hands of law enforcement.
3. Arrest and deportation
In the worst cases, discriminatory treatment can culminate in unfair arrests. Extreme cases may involve deportation. It is important to remember that immigrants, whether or not you have documentation, have legal rights that protect them from unfair treatment. You have a right to a legal representative when interacting with law enforcement, and you deserve respectful treatment, regardless of the situation.