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What Legal Rights Do Undocumented Immigrants Have?

What Legal Rights Do Undocumented Immigrants Have?

A common assertion is that if you reside in the United States illegally, you do not have constitutional rights. Although this is a common assertion, it could not be farther from the truth. Besides a few exceptions including, voting, running for president or Congress, the United States Constitutions guarantees many of the same civil right and liberties to both citizens and non-citizens.


It is estimated that over 11 million people are living in the United States illegally. The majority of these undocumented immigrants are unaware of what legal protections they are guaranteed. In an effort to spread awareness both attorneys and immigration rights advocates have hosted “Know Your Rights” workshops.


These workshops occur all around the country and help undocumented immigrants know their rights as well as what they can do when they are confronted with immigration enforcement.


The legal protections of illegal immigrants can be found in the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Within this clause, it states that anyone is assured the same protection of the law, this includes both U.S. citizens and any person living within the jurisdiction.


This means as long as you live in the United States, whether you are documented or not, you have the right to be protected by the laws as well as have fair treatment in the judicial system.


The 1973 High Court’s decision of Almeida-Sanchez v. United States helps to enforce this principle.  The decision stated that all non-citizens, despite their legal status, are protected by criminally related amendments of the Constitution. This includes legal protection for search and seizure, trial by jury, self-incrimination, and freedom of expression.


Undocumented immigrants are also protected under the Fourth Amendment, which protects people against unreasonable searches and seizures. Unless an undocumented immigrant gives consent or law enforcement have a warrant to search the house, they can deny entry to law enforcement.


Equal protection was expanded in 1982 due to the Plyler v. Doe decision. This case was a “landmark decision” that stated that public education could not be denied due to those who are illegal immigrants. The court decided that the Texas law violated the Equal Protection clause and therefore all children are entitled to public education.


These are just a few of the legal rights that undocumented immigrants possess. Besides a select few exceptions, undocumented citizens are entitled to many of the same rights as United States citizens.  


Is Access to Cell Phone Data Without a Warrant a Violation of the Fourth Amendment?

Is Access to Cell Phone Data Without a Warrant a Violation of the Fourth Amendment?

Technology advances so quickly that the courts have little hope of keeping up. Cases involving new technologies take years to make their way to the high court. During that time period, lower courts are often bound by precedents related to already outmoded technologies. A sort of legal limbo occurs, where litigants, lawyers, and the public remain uncertain about the law.


Though law enforcement and prosecutors have been using cellphone evidence for two decades, the Supreme Court has yet to make a definitive ruling on the constitutionality of warrantless access to a defendant’s cellphone data. The question will finally be decided later this year, when the supreme court issues its ruling on Carpenter v. United States. The court’s ruling will decide whether Carpenter’s fourth amendment rights were violated when the FBI obtained his cellphone records without a warrant and used them as evidence against him.


The Carpenter Case


In April, 2011, Carpenter was arrested for robbery, along with three other men. One of the other suspects confessed and provided the FBI with the phone numbers of the other suspects, including Carpenter’s. The FBI applied for and received a magistrate’s order for Carpenter’s cellphone’s transactional records, which show his calls and the locations and times he made them. Based partially on this evidence, Carpenter was convicted of robbery.


He appealed, and the sixth circuit federal court affirmed his conviction. The Supreme Court heard oral arguments in his case and, as of June 4th, 2018, he is awaiting the decision.


The case’s impact


The Carpenter case is widely expected to provide the definitive answer to whether law enforcement must obtain a warrant for cellphone data. In Carpenter’s case, he argues that the magistrate’s order was not enough to meet constitutional requirements. His lawyers believe that the fourth amendment, when it states citizens have the right to privacy in their personal effects, includes cellphone data.


Courts have a history of looking backwards for guidance in technology-related cases, which often results in the court basing its decision on an analogy. For example, a tablet could be compared to a notebook in terms of determining if the data on the tablet constituted protected data. The court now will struggle to determine how the framers of the constitution would view the seizure of Carpenter’s phone records.


Legal experts anxiously await the decision. Many courts, as seen from the Carpenter case, lean toward law-enforcement’s view that the constitution provides no protection for cellphone records. When the court rules, a definitive standard will apply across the U.S.


Does Ethics Have a Place In Law?

Does Ethics Have a Place In Law?

Ethics are defined as the moral principles that help govern a person’s behavior or the conduction of a certain activity. Since the dawning of civilization, laws have been used as a beacon of order in society. This goes as far back as the Code of Hammurabi, a preserved Babylonian code of law used in ancient Mesopotamia. Since then, a long-standing debate has remained the world of law. Do ethics have a place in it?

Rules are used to maintain minimal civil standards in society and they tell us what our punishment will be if we do not adhere to those edicts. They do not inform us of whether or not that is what an ethical person would do. The rule of law is grounded in principles of fairness, equality, and justice. In many scenarios, judges and lawyers have to practice proper behavior in order to maintain these characteristics. If these guidelines aren’t followed, then the rule of law will begin to unfold while public unrest would be on the rise.

The law profession can lead to many conflicts of interest because there are situations where the rule of law may go against one’s ethical beliefs. Just like health professionals are not allowed to discriminate or treat others unfairly, the lawyers have an obligation to ensure that there is no internal conflict between his beliefs and what the law states. These conflicts of interest have the capacity to exacerbate over time and can lead to serious legal proceedings, such as negligence or breach of trust.

In addition to this, there also arises the issue of potential confidentiality issues and whether or not the lawyer is double minded. There is an inherent duty within those who practice law to exhibit a level of trust that the client can rely upon. This issue of trust gets further exacerbated if the lawyer has nefarious means to what decisions he chooses to make. Whether it be intentionally misleading the court or other forms of manipulation, ethical dilemmas typically arise because there is a gross lack of transparency.

Discussing the role of ethics in law ultimately remains fruitless if the honorable nature of the law profession isn’t the initial point of concern. As the topic continues to gain traction, it is important the integrity isn’t compromised.


Abogado Aly Civil Law:

Civil Law consists a group of laws that govern disputes between individuals in such areas as contracts, property, and family law. Civil Law is anything that is not criminal or public law. There are breach of contract cases where one makes a deal, signs a contract and does not follow the contract obligations that were laid out. There are consumer rights cases where you are protected as a consumer from businesses trying to take advantage of you. Lastly, there are construction law cases with lien matters, landlord-tenant matters and more.

At the offices of Abogado Aly, each attorney has their own specialization; however, they meet everyday to ensure that each case is handled by a group of professionals with varying specializations so that all attorneys at this office can look at each case from multiple angles. Adriana Rodriguez’s specialization is in Civil Law, and the aim of this blog is to inform readers on Civil Law in the news today.

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The attorneys at Abogado Aly, PLLC come with the greatest care and compassion for their clients. Adriana Rodriguez is no stranger to that. As a native Houstonian, she was raised in Houston’s own East End District. She attended the University of Texas at Austin and obtained her Bachelors Degree in Government. After graduating, Ms. Rodriguez attended South Texas College Law of Downtown Houston where she obtained her Law Degree. As a young child, Ms. Rodriguez grew up watching friends and family struggle with constant difficulties directly stemming from their legal issues. After witnessing these struggles as a child, she knew that she wanted to become an attorney to help people with their legal troubles. Now an Attorney at the Law Office of Abogado Aly, Ms. Rodriguez wants to help you understand your rights and keep you from being taken advantage from. She primarily deals with issues of family and immigration; however, all of the attorneys and staff at the offices of Abogado Aly assist each other on all of the cases within the office. Ms. Rodriguez understands that family cases can be tricky and difficult, but she is there to find the best possible solution for both parties in this time of need. If a couple gets married in another county but establishes Harris County as their residence in the three months prior to filing the divorce, they can still have Ms. Rodriguez represent them for their divorce cases.
Andrea Rodriguez | Attorney at Abogado Aly Law PLLC