Last updated on: 8/31/2017 | Author:

What Constitutional Rights Do Undocumented Immigrants Have When on American Soil?

General Reference (not clearly pro or con)

Ilya Somin, JD, Professor of Law at George Mason University, in an Apr. 30, 2017 Learn Liberty article, “The Constitutional Rights of NonCitizens,” available at, stated:

“Noncitizens undeniably have a wide range of rights under the Constitution. Indeed, within the borders of the United States, they have most of the same rights as citizens do, and longstanding Supreme Court precedent bans most state laws discriminating against noncitizens. There is little if any serious controversy among experts over this matter…

The First Amendment prevents the government from censoring noncitizens’ speech or suppressing the practice of their religion. The Fourth Amendment protects them against unreasonable searches and seizures. The Fifth Amendment ensures that noncitizens’ property can only be taken by the government for a public use, and only if just compensation is paid.

Should a noncitizen be charged with a crime, he has exactly the same Fifth and Sixth Amendment procedural rights as a citizen, including the right to a jury trial, the right to counsel, and protection against self-incrimination. If convicted, the Eighth Amendment prevents the government from subjecting aliens to ‘cruel and unusual punishment’ in exactly the same ways as it does with citizens.”

Apr. 30, 2017

Matthew Green, News Education Manager at KQED, in a Mar. 28, 2017 article, “What Legal Rights Do Undocumented Immigrants Have? (with Lesson Plan),” available at, stated:

“[A]nyone living in the U.S. — legally or not — has constitutional rights, including the right to equal protection of the law and that of due process (fair treatment in the judicial system).

This principle was furthered by the High Court’s 1973 decision in Almeida-Sanchez v. United States, which stated that non-citizens, regardless of legal status, are protected by the Constitution’s criminal charge-related amendments, including search and seizure, self-incrimination, freedom of expression and trial by jury.

Under the Fourth Amendment, which protects against unreasonable searches and seizures, undocumented immigrants can deny law enforcement officers entry into their homes unless they have a valid search warrant or have been given explicit consent.

In the landmark 1982 Plyler v. Doe decision, the court further expanded this umbrella of equal protection, striking down a Texas statute that denied free public education to undocumented residents. The court ruled that Texas’ law violated the Equal Protection Clause. All children, it concluded, regardless of immigration status, are therefore entitled to a free public education.

These are just some of the rights that the Constitution and federal law grant to everyone in the U.S.”

Mar. 28, 2017

Rachel Stockman, LLM, Editor-in-Chief of LawNewz, in a Feb. 22, 2017 article, “Yes, ‘Illegal Immigrants’ Do Have Constitutional Rights Even under Trump’s New Immigration Plan,” available at, stated:

“Case law and Supreme Court precedents developed over years of litigation have afforded so-called illegal immigrants some limited protections.

Undocumented immigrants have right to counsel/attorney during deportation hearings and some due process…

Undocumented immigrants can NOT be detained indefinitely…

Undocumented Children Have Right to Public Education…

Undocumented immigrants have right to seek Emergency Room Services…

Undocumented immigrants do NOT have right to most public subsidies…

Undocumented immigrants do NOT have right to vote.”

Feb. 22, 2017

Robert Longley, writer and editor of, in a Jan. 31, 2017 ThoughtCo article, “Do Undocumented Immigrants Have Constitutional Rights?,” available at, stated:

“Do not let the fact that the term ‘illegal immigrants’ does not appear in the document lead you to believe that the U.S. Constitution’s rights and freedoms do not apply to them.

Often described as a ‘living document,’ the Constitution has repeatedly been interpreted by the U.S. Supreme Court, federal appeals courts and Congress in order to address the ever-changing needs and demands of the people. While many argue that ‘We the People of the United States,’ refers only to legal citizens, the Supreme Court has consistently disagreed…

While undocumented workers do not enjoy all of the rights granted to citizens by the Constitution, specifically the rights to vote or possess firearms, these rights can also be denied to U.S. citizens convicted of felonies. In final analysis, the courts have ruled that, while they are within the borders of the United States, undocumented workers are granted the same fundamental, undeniable constitutional rights granted to all Americans.”

Jan. 31, 2017