These days, it goes without saying that immigration is a hot-button issue. Conversations and policies surrounding undocumented immigrants are particularly tense, and much pain and suffering have occurred on all sides of the issue. As immigration attorneys, we wanted to share some insights with our clients and readers about the rights of undocumented immigrants living in the U.S.
Simply stated: The Constitution grants every person on U.S. soil the right to protection of life and due process of law. The Fourteenth Amendment states, “No state shall . . . deprive any person of life, liberty or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” In other words, every human being has a Constitutional right to due process of law, including the assumption of innocence, trial by jury, and the right of appeal. Although certain Constitutional privileges, such as voting and holding public office, are reserved only for citizens, the Bill of Rights applies to all “persons” within the United States, regardless of legal status, guaranteeing free speech, right of assembly, and freedom from unwarranted governmental interference.
According to law professor Gabriel Chin, “There is no question that all persons in the United States including unauthorized migrants enjoy the protections of the Constitution. There is no debate about that among legal scholars.” Historically, courts have supported the right of undocumented immigrants to hire attorneys, appeal court decisions, and seek asylum. In the famous Plyler vs. Doe case, the Supreme Court ruled that non-citizen minors be given free K-12 education, allowing undocumented immigrant children to participate in public schools. Although employers are required to verify employment eligibility, if an undocumented worker is hired, they are then eligible for receiving workers’ comp, fair wages, and other legal protections granted to employees.
Of course, nothing is ever simple, and certain statutes allow for expedited deportation processes, particularly in border areas. More recently, changes in the Department of Homeland Security and ICE have made the status of the undocumented community much more vulnerable and broadened the application of the expedited deportation statutes. We recognize that many immigrants live with a lot of questions hanging over them, and we want to help you find the answers you need and a way forward for you. At Castan & Lecca, welcome anyone to come to our office for a free consultation, and if you’re in need of legal counsel, we hope to hear from you today at (770) 800-7000.