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The fundamental rights of legal U.S. residents

As a U.S. resident, immigrants have fundamental rights and privileges.

When immigrants come to the United States for remittance purposes, they know that as an American resident, they have many rights and privileges that they may not have had in their home country. This includes the right to work and earn an honest living.

But immigrants may not be familiar with other rights that they have, ones that enable them to live in the U.S. with the knowledge that they can't be removed from their new country. However, whether it's due to inaccurate paperwork or misunderstandings, customs enforcement officers occasionally seek out immigrants who they believe did not enter the country legally.

A fundamental right all Americans have, including immigrants, is the protection of unreasonable searches by authorities. According to the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers have entered immigrants' homes without obtaining a warrant from a judge. While these cases have been relatively infrequent, they have still occurred.

ILRC says that immigrants can show that they know their rights through something called a "Red Card." The ILRC developed these red plastic cards – which are written with instructions on how immigrants can exercise their rights in both Spanish and English – so that immigrants can understand what rights they have.

Typically, any confusion that results in customs officials coming to an immigrants place of residence can be cleared up simply by presenting the documents that prove one's residency. However, ILRC says that immigrants are under no obligation to present anything if they first do not show that they have a legal right to be there. The only way they can obtain this is through the court system, wherein a judge will grant a search warrant. The judge will not issue the warrant without probable cause.

If immigrants gain official citizenship, they earn many other rights. According to the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services, this includes the ability to vote in all federal and state elections, the ability to bring family members to the United States, to travel anywhere in the world with a U.S. passport, the opportunity to run for elected office and become eligible for federal grants or scholarships. Taking advantage of these rights will enable immigrants to better assimilate themselves and reconfirm their status as an American citizen.

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