According to the Federation For American Immigration Reform, there are 12.5 million illegal aliens currently in the United States.
Many people, illegal aliens and American citizens alike, are confused regarding their rights under U.S. law.
Living in the U.S. illegally puts you in an extremely fragile position.
The U.S. Department of Justice found that of all of the foreign-born people in federal prisons, 94% were undocumented immigrants.
You need to know what to expect in case you are arrested.
More importantly, you need to know whether or not you are granted the right to a defense attorney while on U.S. soil.
If you’re an undocumented immigrant and you’re in the dark on this topic, I suggest you read on.
Your Rights to a Defense Attorney as an Illegal
In San Antonio, as well as anywhere else in the U.S., if you’re arrested for any crime, whether its a DWI, assault, drug possession, or theft, you are granted the right to a defense attorney.
This protection is afforded to you by the grace of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
It states, “No state shall . . . 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.”
If you are arrested and told that you may not speak to a defense attorney, then that law enforcement agency is in violation of the 14th Amendment.
However, this only applies to explicitly to proceedings where you’ve been charged with a crime.
If you are detained for the sole reason of being an undocumented immigrant, the U.S. government has no obligation to provide you a public defender.
You are legally granted the right to a hearing in front of a judge regarding your immigration status.
The U.S. government cannot deport you without a hearing.
You are also still allowed to contact a lawyer, but the attorney may only be retained with private income or on a pro-bono basis.
Also, though you do not have the right to work in the U.S. as an illegal, you are allowed to file a discrimination lawsuit against your employer if he happens to single you out and ask for documentation of your immigration status.
In summation, if you’re arrested for a crime you are granted the right to a public defender so long as you are on U.S. soil, whether you’re an undocumented immigrant or not.
If you are detained solely regarding your citizenship status, the government has no obligation to use public funds to provide you a lawyer.
Hopefully, with this information, you will be able to confidently traverse the U.S. legal system with ease.
If you are ever unfortunately charged with a crime, I recommend you consult a lawyer immediately.
I also suggest you check out my blog to read more about things you need to know, such as the questions you need to ask your lawyer.
The U.S. legal system is complicated, but with this information, it doesn’t have to be.