In the United States, the federal government controls most immigration laws.
Some states or cities give undocumented immigrants additional rights. For instance, New York law makes it a crime to extort or coerce someone by threatening to report his or her immigration status to authorities.
The U.S. Constitution and rights of undocumented immigrants
Most provisions of the U.S. Constitution apply to any person who is in the U.S., even if he or she is not a citizen.
The Sixth Amendment states that “in all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall have the assistance of counsel for his defense.” The government must provide counsel only if the accused faces a felony charge. Illegally entering the U.S. is a misdemeanor. The accused can provide his or her own counsel.
According to the Fourteenth Amendment, the government cannot “deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” Undocumented children are thus permitted to attend public schools.
Other Constitutional rights include the right to due process of law and protection from unreasonable searches.
Additional rights of undocumented immigrants
Even if an undocumented immigrant is working illegally, he still has the right to a safe work environment free from discrimination. He also has the right to get paid for the work he does, at least minimum wage plus overtime.
Undocumented immigrants also have rights to:
- receive a trial by jury in a criminal case
- receive a Miranda warning when arrested
- file a lawsuit in federal court, and in some state courts
- file a civil rights complaint against the Department of Homeland Security
- receive emergency medical care
- own property
- take out a mortgage
- participate in child support and child custody proceedings
These are only some of the rights undocumented immigrants may have.