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Foreign Nationals and Police Treatment

Do foreign nationals enjoy more privileges than US citizens when arrested or detained by police?

Do foreign nationals enjoy more privileges than US citizens when arrested or detained by police?

The short answer is…well you determine.  Read on to see for yourself.

When a foreign national, including an illegal alien or alien with a green card, is arrested or detained, he or she must be informed without delay of the right to have a consular officials from his or her country notified.  The foreign nationals must also have the right to communicate with those consular officials.  This notice and communication requirement must be given in addition to, not instead of, the Miranda warnings.

In addition, when a foreign national is from a country that requires notification of an arrest or detention, the nearest consular officials must be notified without delay, regardless of the person’s wishes.  These countries include:

Albania
Algeria
Antigua and Barbuda
Armenia
Azerbaijan
Bahamas
Barbados
Belarus
Belize
Brunei
Bulgaria
China (including Macao and
Hong Kong)
Costa Rica
Cyprus
Czech Republic
Dominica
Fiji
Gambia
Georgia
Ghana
Grenada
Guyana
Hungary
Jamaica
Kazakhstan
Kiribati
Kuwait
Kyrgyzstan
Malaysia
Malta
Mauritius
Moldova
Mongolia
Nigeria
Philippines
Poland
Romania
Russia
Saint Kitts and Nevis
Saint Lucia
Saint Vincent and the
Grenadines
Seychelles
Sierra Leone
Singapore
Slovakia
Tajikistan
Tanzania
Tonga
Trinidad and Tobago
Tunisia
Turkmenistan
Tuvalu
Ukraine
United Kingdom
Uzbekistan
Zambia
Zimbabwe

But, here is the caveat.  Although law enforcement officers should make every effort to comply with these procedures, failure to do so will not stymie the government from prosecuting the foreign national, even if the failure to notify would have helped his defense.

Foreign nationals still have the same rights and protections as US citizens (i.e. right to an attorney, right to remain silent, right of privacy, etc..)  They also enjoy the right to have their home country notified.  Their home country can help them locate an attorney who can fight for their rights and provide them with a defense.  But beware.  Despite the government’s requirement to contact the foreign national’s home country,  because there is no penalty if notification fails to occur, foreign nationals are left with little added benefit over US citizens.  The requirement is an empty promise.

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