In Focus: The Rights of Undocumented Immigrants

Do undocumented immigrants have legal rights?

In the aftermath of the recent immigration raids, many are asking whether or not undocumented immigrants have legal rights. The fact is that certain rights under the U.S. Constitution apply to immigrants who are not lawfully in the country. This is because they are considered “persons” under the law. Let’s take a brief look at some of these rights.

Constitutional Rights

First, undocumented immigrants are entitled to the Fourteenth Amendment’s guarantees of due process and equal protection of the laws. This means that these individuals have the right to a trial and to defend themselves against criminal charges. Similarly, undocumented immigrants have rights in civil matters, including the right to receive notice of a lawsuit and to defend the matter in court.

In addition, undocumented immigrants are also protected against unlawful searches and seizures by law enforcement (under the Fourth Amendment) as well as self incrimination (under the Fifth Amendment). Lastly, undocumented immigrants can also bring lawsuits in federal court and in some jurisdictions, state court.

Defense Against Deportation

While the recent immigration raids reportedly targeted criminal offenders and those who were under deportation orders, undocumented immigrants have a right to defend themselves against deportation or removal, the right to a hearing before an immigration judge, and the right to legal representation in immigration court.

Do undocumented immigrants have a right to work?

The short answer is that undocumented immigrants do not have a right to work in the United States. This is because federal law prohibits employers from hiring undocumented workers. In order to be eligible for work, it is necessary to have a green card, a work visa, a work permit or a naturalization document. Nonetheless, undocumented immigrants are often hired by employers who do not verify these documents are in place. It is important to note that using fraudulent documents, such as a Social Security card, is considered a felony and can jeopardize an individual’s lawful immigration status in the future.

That being said, undocumented workers have certain employment rights, including the right to be paid.

the minimum wage rate and overtime pay, and the right to a safe workplace. In short, undocumented immigrants are protected from abuse, exploitation, and sexual harassment. Moreover, these individuals are protected from discrimination based on race or national origin by employers and others. Lastly, undocumented immigrants who are injured on the job have a right to workers’ compensation in some states.

Dedicated Immigrations Attorneys

While undocumented immigrants have certain rights, many are unaware that the law protects them. At the same time, immigration laws are complicated. For this reason, the immigration and nationality attorneys at the Nachman Phulwani Zimovcak (NPZ) Law Group, P.C. are dedicated to protecting the rights of both documented as well as undocumented immigrants. Visit NPZ on the web at or email them at, or please feel free to call the firm at (201) 670-0006 (x107).