Everyone living in the United States, whether you are here as a visitor, in order to improve your education, because you had an offer of employment, are a lawful permanent resident or a citizen, has certain rights and protections as described by the Constitution and U. S. immigration laws.
But U.S. immigration law is complex and has lead to considerable confusion as to just how it works and how it affects the rights and obligations of immigrants to the country. The framework of the immigration law is based upon the principles of admitting immigrants with specific skills into the country, permitting family reunification, promoting diversity within the United States and protecting refugees.
The US Immigration Council has produced a fact sheet regarding the principles that govern the policy, but there is no doubt that confusion in many quarters remains.
The main body of law governing current immigration policy is called The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), which provides visas to up to 675000 permanent immigrants, although it does not set up a limit to the annual admissions into the country for the spouses, children or parents of US citizens.
In addition to that number, the president will consult Congress and set the number of refugees to be admitted into the country under the US Refugee Resettlement Process.
But what rights do these immigrants, and indeed citizens, have? Here are some of the key rights and obligations provided to immigrants.
The First Amendment Gives Rights to Everyone
The First Amendment of the U. S. Constitution offers protection for freedom of speech, religion, and the press. It also allows for peaceful protests or assemblies, and to petition the government. Moreover, within it are concepts such as the government not promoting one religion over another and allowing all individuals to speak freely.
This means that no matter what your immigration status is or even if you are an undocumented immigrant, you still have the right to freedom of speech and religion.
The Fourteenth Amendment Protects Everyone
The Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution addresses the rights of citizens and offers everyone equal protection under the law. It provides that no state should deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law and that everyone has equal protection under the law.
The Due Process Clause forbids both state and local governments from depriving people of life, liberty, or property without a fair procedure, while the Equal protection clause holds each state responsible for providing equal protection under the law to everyone, including non-citizens.
What are some rights that all immigrants have?
As an immigrant, you have the right to receive healthcare. That is why doctors, nurses and all healthcare practitioners are not concerned with your immigration status. You can seek care knowing that your personal information is private.
On the Job
You have a right to be safe in your workplace. There are laws that protect all workers from discrimination based on national origin, race, gender, or religion. They also protect you against harassment or unhealthy work conditions.
Undocumented workers in the United States also have employment rights, despite their immigration status. It is illegal under federal law to discriminate against any worker. The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) prohibits discrimination based on citizenship status.
Deportation Hearings Rights
According to the sixth amendment, anyone shall have the assistance of counsel for their defense. Also, if you have no funds to hire your own lawyer, the government must appoint one for you. Only if you fall under what is called an “expedited removal” you may be sent back without seeing a judge.
Safety at Home
The fourth amendment protects everyone against unreasonable searches or seizures. No matter what your immigration status is, you can deny law enforcement entrance to your home unless they show you a valid search warrant or unless they have received explicit consent.
Free Public Education
All children, notwithstanding their immigration status, have a right to receive free, public education. Get your children registered at your nearest public school.
It would seem as if the subject of immigration is constantly on the news. And it might be assumed that the Constitution talks about immigration and immigrants quite a bit within its pages. However, the reality is that it does not offer too many details about immigration other than specify authorization to make immigration policy.
If you are an immigrant and are concerned with your legal status or want to apply for a change of visa or to have your family members join you, San Diego immigration Attorneys can help you with advice and assistance on any immigration issues.
Feldman & Feldman is a San Diego-based immigration law firm. See the firm’s details here.