By the legal definition, anyone who is not legally permitted to live in the U.S. is an undocumented immigrant. You might think you have no rights in the country if this is your situation. However, this is untrue.
In the U.S., there are immigrant rights even for those who are undocumented. Here is what our immigration attorneys have to say.
Rights and Processes for Undocumented Immigrants.
One thing the U.S. is great at is providing opportunities for people to thrive, specifically children. Being an undocumented immigrant does not automatically disqualify you from getting benefits.
Let’s explore some of the primary immigrant rights and processes below based on your background.
Adult With No Criminal History.
According to the Northwest Justice Project, you may qualify for a variety of programs if your income is below a certain threshold. The programs revolve around making sure your basic rights to life are taken care of (e.g., healthcare and school).
Here are examples of what you can get as an undocumented immigrant in Washington State:
- “Emergency” healthcare
- Shots and COVID testing
- Student loan support
You may even qualify to get a driver’s license in Washington State since you do not have a history of DUIs or other criminal infractions. The process to obtain your driver’s license or any benefits is generally the same as what any American citizen would need to follow.
Adult With Criminal History.
Depending on what you were charged with, your rights may be different.
However, the 14th Amendment is clear:
“…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.”
Many constitutional rights do apply to non-citizens. That means that, despite your criminal status, you should be treated as much as a person as a U.S. citizen. Therefore, you may be entitled to a trial by jury and can hire a lawyer to defend you in immigration court if you are detained at any point.
Like everyone else, there must be grounds for you to be searched. Evidence derived from searches and seizures done without a legal basis cannot be held against you in court. If you feel you have been differentiated from your coworkers due to your ethnic background, you may take that to court just as any other undocumented immigrant can.
Adult With Children.
Washington State strives to provide programs that help undocumented families. If you have children, you can feel safe knowing that your child will receive student lunch and healthcare when needed.
You can also feel good going to any women’s shelters or men’s shelters that accept children if you face a life-threatening situation at home. Many places cannot legally ask about your immigration status and must maintain confidentiality for your own safety.
You and your family members may also qualify for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). In case you have not heard of this program before, it prevents you from being sent back to your home country in some cases, as long as you renew annually and lack criminal charges.
Undocumented immigrants have rights just like the rest of us. The U.S. will always honor healthcare for life-threatening situations and cater to children’s lunch needs at school. You may even be eligible to stay in the U.S. if you meet the DACA qualifications.
If you are an undocumented immigrant and would like to explore your rights in greater detail, Clearwater Law Group can help. Give us a phone call today to speak to one of our skilled immigration attorneys.