Immigrants’ Rights

The Constitution guarantees the fundamental rights and civil liberties of every person in the country.

These protections are not limited to citizens. They protect all people on U.S. soil, regardless of their citizenship, refugee or immigration status.

The framers of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, as well as the authors and supporters of post-Civil War amendments, all understood the importance of protecting non-citizens against government abuse and discrimination.

Our nation has unquestioned authority to control its borders and to regulate immigration. But we must exercise the power to exclude or deport immigrants within the rule of law, the fundamental norms of humanity and the requirements of the Constitution.

History of Immigrants’ Rights

The ACLU was born in the 1920’s during the “Red Scare,” a time when then U.S. Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer was ordering immigrants detained and deported because of their political views. That was the beginning of the ACLU’s long work challenging unconstitutional laws and practices to make the Constitution a living document for everyone in the country. The ACLU has defended the Constitution’s guarantees on behalf of the foreign-born and immigrants ever since.

Upholding the rights of immigrants is important to us all. When the government has the power to deny due process and other legal rights to one vulnerable group, everyone’s rights are at risk.

Non-citizens are often the first and most vulnerable targets of government abuse.