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Civil Rights for Immigrants in the U.S.

In the history of the United States, the Founding Fathers were a group of immigrants who laid out important documents to assert their rights as citizens of a new nation. The Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and its Bill of Rights, and statutes at the federal and state levels establish the rights of all people, including citizens and foreigners. The Constitution doesn’t explicitly grant foreigners the right to enter the country. However, once they’ve been admitted, individuals from other countries are supposed to be legally protected from discrimination and abuse. If you’re an immigrant and you think your rights have been violated, seek immediate help from an experienced immigration lawyer in San Diego.

Citizens, Residents, & Foreign Nationals

Even though the Constitution and the Bill of Rights are worded in ways that encompass all individuals in the U.S., distinctions have been made not only in the law but also in rulings made by the Supreme Court. Though the American Civil Liberties Union doesn’t necessarily agree, the Supreme Court has declared that classifying individuals into citizens, residents, and foreign nationals isn’t a practice that runs afoul of the Constitution.

The Fourteenth Amendment is perhaps the cornerstone of civil rights for immigrants in the U.S. because it guarantees equal protection and the right to due process. The Fifth Amendment is closely related in this regard. A need for clearer legal interpretation has resulted in citizens having more rights than residents and foreign nationals, but equal protection and due process need to be applied uniformly to all individuals. With all this in mind, it’s important to remember that all foreigners, irrespective of their visa status, can bring claims in American courts. For example, the right to a fair trial cannot be granted solely to U.S. citizens, which means immigrants can retain legal counsel and argue their cases in court should they need to.

A foreign national cannot participate in certain civil processes, such as voting, serving on a jury, or holding public office. Immigrants who become residents can vote at the municipal level in some jurisdictions. In some cases, foreigners who want to serve in the military can do so as long as they pledge allegiance to the U.S. In fact, this can become a pathway to residency and citizenship.

Basic Freedoms of Immigrants in the U.S.

To a certain extent, civil rights are based on human rights, thus making them inalienable and applicable to everyone, including foreigners. These rights are often called “freedoms” in the U.S., and they include:

  • Freedom to practice religion
  • Freedom of speech
  • Freedom of assembly
  • Freedom from oppression, cruelty, and unjust punishment
  • Freedom from discrimination based on nationality, ethnicity, disability, age, faith, or gender

Americans like to think of their country as a global leader in terms of freedom. However, situations often arise in which civil rights are ignored or violated. Thankfully for immigrants, due process and the right to be represented by an immigration law firm are virtually universal freedoms that can be invoked and enjoyed at any time. 

If you need a lawyer because your civil rights have been violated, contact the experienced attorneys at KS Visa Law. We have the best immigration lawyers in San Diego, and you can count on us to stand up for your rights. Call us at 858-874-0711 to schedule an appointment with one of our lawyers today.

August 2020
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