According to a study conducted by the Pew Research Center, there were almost 11 million unauthorized immigrants in the US in 2017. That number is staggering and, sadly, is constantly rising. As a result of the fear of deportation, many of those immigrants are afraid to research and explore what they can and can’t do. And so, one of the most common yet controversial questions is, What rights do illegal aliens have?
Why Is The 14th Amendment Important?
The 14th Amendment grants certain rights to every person in the US, even if they are not citizens. To quote this amendment, No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state 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.
Why is this law applicable to immigrants while others are not? It’s all the result of a simple word — and that word is “person.” As opposed to the word “citizen,” the latter part of the amendment opts for a more inclusive version. That means that the amendment applies to everyone in the US.
The Decisive Victory
Another key moment when it comes to illegal aliens’ rights was the Zadvydas v. Davis case. The US Supreme Court decided that the phrase “due process of law” applies to all persons in the US. As a result, that section also applies to illegal aliens. Therefore, the only rights specific to US citizens are running for office, voting, and doing some exclusive federal jobs.
What Rights Do Illegal Aliens Have?
The following list touches on the most important rights an illegal alien has in the US:
- The Right to a Trial by Jury
The 6th Amendment gives any illegal alien, and everyone in the US, the right to a trial by jury appointed by the district or the state.
- The Right of Self Representation Against Deportation
All illegal aliens have the right to represent themselves or hire an attorney while under deportation charges. However, they won’t receive a court-appointed attorney.
- The Right to Representation in Criminal Court
Similarly to the previous right, everyone can be represented in criminal court. Unlike immigration court, when it comes to criminal court, illegal aliens can receive a public defender.
- The Right to File Civil Lawsuits
Illegal residents of the US have the right to file civil lawsuits, including lawsuits against discrimination.
- The Right to Be Paid for the Work Done
All workers, illegal or not, have the right to file a report if they are not receiving payment for the work they perform.
- The Right to Protection in Case of Unlawful Searches
According to the 4th Amendment, all US residents, illegal or not, can refuse a police search without a warrant.
- The Right to be With Their Family
In normal circumstances, the government cannot split a family, no matter if they are undocumented or not. However, they can do so in extraordinary circumstances, such as child abuse.
- The Right to Free K-12 Education
Illegal aliens can’t be denied access to free K-12 education based on their illegal status.
All in all, everybody must know their rights, no matter their status. While there are more rights available to immigrants, those are just the most important ones. And next time somebody asks What rights do illegal aliens have, simply respond by saying almost all rights.
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