Preserving Aliens' and Migrant Workers' Access to Civil Legal Services: Constitutional and Policy Considerations
31 Pages Posted: 8 Jan 2010
Date Written: 2003
Restricting the availability of civil legal aid lawyers to help immigrants and migrant workers - as Congress and some states have done - is bad public policy. It leaves immigrant and migrant workers particularly vulnerable to workplace abuses. It undermines enforcement of minimum wage, workplace safety and other protections, to the detriment of the entire society. Such restrictions can be unconstitutional, too. Restrictions targeting migrant workers violate the right to travel grounded in the Privileges and Immunities Clause of Article IV of the Constitution. The constitutional right of equal protection bars the denial of state-funded legal assistance to various categories of documented aliens, and the denial of government-funded civil legal aid to undocumented children.
Keywords: legal services, civil legal aid, legal representation, access to justice, LSC, state, federal, immigrants, migrant workers, workers' rights, workplace safety, minimum wage, Privileges and Immunities Clause, equal protection, documented aliens, undocumented
JEL Classification: I3, K1, K4, I18, J18
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation