Whatever his status under the immigration laws, an alien is surely a 'person' . . . Aliens, even aliens whose presence in this country is unlawful, have long been recognized as 'persons' guaranteed due process of law by the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments.
— U.S. Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan, Plyer v. Doe
Americans are not a narrow tribe. Our blood is as the flood of the Amazon, made up of a thousand noble currents all pouring into one.
— Herman Melville
The United States is in the midst of a major debate over immigrants and their place in our economic and political life. As during other times in our history, immigrants are being blamed for causing or contributing to the social, economic and political ills of our society. Politicians from both major parties, at both the national and state levels, are promoting a range of punitive legislative proposals that single out immigrants for adverse treatment by the government. Many violate basic civil liberties principles.
The Bill of Rights does not grant foreigners the right to enter the United States, but once here, immigrants are entitled to certain broad constitutional protections. Due Process — the right to be treated fairly, whether in a deportation hearing or a criminal court proceeding — applies to every person within U.S. borders. And Equal Protection prohibits discrimination based on race or national origin. An alien's rights to free speech and religious freedom are protected under the First Amendment. The Refugee Act of 1980 gives certain aliens the right to political asylum in the U.S.
New immigrants to our country are not a scourge as some politicians claim. In fact, they can help solve many of our economic and social problems.
- January 12, 2021 State of the State Response: 2021 Will Build on Civil Rights Expansions of 2020
- September 30, 2020 Poll: New Jerseyans Support Measures to Uplift Immigrant Community During COVID-19
- August 24, 2020 ACLU-NJ Statement in Response to Budget Address
- July 30, 2020 Bill Expanding Occupational Licenses Regardless of Immigration Status Passes Legislature, Goes to Governor
- April 1, 2020 In Response to ACLU-NJ Lawsuit, ICE Releases Two People from Detention
- March 30, 2020 ACLU Lawsuit Demands Release of High Medical Risk Immigration Detainees Amid COVID-19 Pandemic
- January 14, 2020 Historic Expansion of Rights Lays Foundation for Bolder Social Justice Policies
- December 19, 2019 NJ Makes History, Expands Access to Driver’s Licenses as Governor Murphy Signs Landmark Bill into Law
- December 18, 2019 Dec. 16 was 'one of the most important days for civil rights in NJ history'
- December 16, 2019 Historic Bill to Expand Driver’s Licenses Passes Legislature, Moves to Governor’s Desk
- State v. Molchor, State v. Rios
Amicus brief addressing whether under the Criminal Justice Reform Act, a defendant’s immigration status can form the basis for the court’s pretrial detention decision?
- Arriaga Reyes, et al. v. Decker, et al.
Habeas corpus petition seeking release from ICE custody on behalf of five individuals held at the Hudson County and Bergen County Jails based on their medical vulnerabilities to COVID-19.
- Salazar, et al. v. Tsoukaris, et al.
Habeas corpus petition seeking release from ICE custody on behalf of two individuals held at the Essex County Correctional Facility based on their medical vulnerabilities to COVID-19.
- U.S. v. State of New Jersey et al.
Amicus brief supporting the State of New Jersey’s motion to dismiss the United States’ lawsuit challenging New Jersey’s Immigrant Trust Directive.
- Ocean County v. Grewal
Amicus brief in support of the Attorney General’s power to implement the Immigrant Trust Directive
- State v. A.M.
Can police obtain a Miranda waiver by asking someone to read if they have not established the person can read?
- Guerrero-Sanchez v. Warden York County Prison
Appeal of federal court decision granting a day in court for a man whom ICE detained without a bond hearing for nearly two years while he was seeking protection from removal to Mexico.
- Martinez v. Nielsen
Federal lawsuit challenging the detention and deportation of a man picked up by ICE at his scheduled green card interview.
- Pangemanan et al. v. Tsoukaris et al.
The ACLU-NJ filed a federal class action lawsuit seeking a temporary restraining order halting the deportations of Indonesian Christian residents of Central Jersey.
- State v. Rodriguez
Petition for Certification addressing the requirements of criminal lawyers to advise their clients of immigration consequences of guilty pleas.
- Democracy Act
Establishes Automatic Voter Registration through MVC; expands in-person early voting; modernizes electronic voter registration; expands vote-by-mail; expands voting access for military and overseas voters; enhances access to the polls for people with disabilities; enhances language access at polling places with significant population of non-English speakers.
- Expanding Access to Driver’s Licenses
Expands access to driver’s licenses to eligible undocumented drivers; expands list of documents needed to establish 6-point MVC identity and residency requirements for license; protects privacy of MVC data; limits use of card to non-federal purposes.
- Financial Aid Equality
Allows certain students, including undocumented immigrants who meet certain criteria, to qualify for State student financial aid programs.
- Tuition Equality
Makes undocumented students who studied for three or more years at and graduated from NJ high schools, or obtained GED, eligible for in-state tuition and financial aid at NJ state colleges and universities.
- ACLU-NJ Offers Analysis of AG's Flawed Directive (2007)
- ACLU-NJ Urges AG to Revisit Flawed Directive (2007)
- AG's Guidance Needed On Cops and Immigrants (2007)
- Denying Justice to NJ's Immigrants (2006)
- REAL ID Act (2005)
- Don't Deny Immigrant Kids An Education (2004)
- Bring Immigrants Out of the Shadows (2004)
- War on Terrorism is Like War on Immigrants (2003)
- Are Immigrants Entitled to Full Civil Rights? (2003)
- CLEAR Act Will Muddy Relationships Between Police And Immigrants (2003)
- What to do if the FBI or Homeland Security Wants to Question You (435k PDF)
- Conozca sus Derechos ante la Migra (85k PDF)
- What to Do If Questioned by Police, FBI, Customs Agents or Immigration Officers:
- Conozca sus Derechos ante la Migra (85k PDF)
- Bustcard-English Wallet size version of Know Your Rights-English (426k PDF)
- Bustcard-Spanish Wallet size version of Know Your Rights-Spanish (426k PDF)
- Immigrant Rights Card-English (76k PDF)
- Immigrant Rights Card-Spanish (77k PDF)
- ACLU-NJ Offers Community Education Forums and Legal Clinics on the INS Special Registration Program (2003)
- The Skadden Report - The 2nd Year Begins (2002)
- The Skadden Report - Post 9-11 (2001)
- The Skadden Report - May Day 2001 (2001)
- The Skadden Report - ACLU's Immigrant Worker's Rights Project (2000)
- Secret Evidence in New Jersey (2000)
- Update on Secret Evidence (2000)