Illegal immigrants living and often working in the United States have some rights under the U.S. Constitution, despite their immigration status. Aspects of the Constitution that address human rights apply to everyone, even those without proper documentation. Some states grant illegal immigrants certain rights as well.
Even if you're in the country illegally, the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution apply to you. This means that if someone sues you, you have the right to receive notice and to defend yourself. The Fourth Amendment also protects your rights just as it protects those of legal citizens. Law enforcement can't seize and search your property without probable cause. Illegal immigrants have the right to file lawsuits, such as discrimination suits, in federal court. State laws vary, but some jurisdictions give you the right to sue in state court as well.
Defense Against Removal
You have the right to defend yourself against deportation or removal from the United States. If immigration officials discover that you're living in the country illegally, you have the right to a hearing. The government can't simply send you home without one. You also have the right to an attorney, but the government doesn't have to pay for one on your behalf.
No Right to Work
It's against federal law for an employer to hire an undocumented immigrant - someone whose doesn't have a green card, visa, or naturalization documents. These individuals are "undocumented workers." Employers are responsible for taking measures to make sure they don't hire undocumented workers. However, they sometimes hire them unknowingly. Once you're hired, you have certain rights.
Rights if You Are Working
Illegal immigrants are blocked from collecting unemployment insurance in most states, because a condition of unemployment insurance is usually that the employee must be willing and able to work. Undocumented workers are not technically able to work, so they don't qualify. However, if you're hurt on the job, you have the right to collect worker's compensation benefits in some states. You may even have the right to collect disability insurance if you paid into it from your paychecks. You have the right to organize or join a union to force better working conditions.
Protections Against Discrimination
Illegal immigrants cannot be discriminated against on the basis of nationality, by employers or anyone else. Employers must ask you for your legal authorization to be in the United States before they can hire you, but they can't single you out and ask only you, or only individuals of your nationality. Asking for documentation must be company policy, covering all workers.
An Immigration Lawyer Can Help
The law surrounding the legal rights of undocumented immigrants is complicated. Plus, the facts of each case are unique. This article provides a brief, general introduction to the topic. For more detailed, specific information, please contact an immigration lawyer.
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