Discrimination Against Undocumented Residents

I am not an American citizen: Do I have any rights?

Yes. American laws protect all people who are in the United States, regardless of whether they are Americans. You do NOT have to be an American citizen to file a lawsuit for housing discrimination.

I’m afraid that I’ll be deported if I file a lawsuit. Is this a possibility?

No. A person does not have to be an American citizen to file a discrimination lawsuit. The law protects everyone who has been a victim of discrimination, regardless of whether they are an American citizen. Also, nobody can question you about your citizenship status during the lawsuit since it is not a relevant topic. Moreover, a lawyer could actually risk losing his license or being reprimanded by the California State Bar (the organization that polices lawyers) if the lawyer threatened to report a non-American citizen to Immigration in retaliation for you filing a lawsuit. In sum, your citizenship status cannot be raised during the course of the lawsuit.

I am not a citizen. If I file a lawsuit, will the Immigration Naturalization Service learn about it?

No. When you file a lawsuit, you are not asked to prove that you are an American citizen. Moreover, nobody is allowed to question your citizenship during the case. In short, the law does not inquire into your citizenship status after you file a lawsuit. This is nothing for which to be concerned.

I was discriminated against while I lived in the United States, but I have now moved back to Mexico. Can I still file a lawsuit for discrimination even though I no longer live in the United States?

Yes. You can sue while living in Mexico if the discrimination took place while you lived in the United States.

Can a landlord refuse to allow kids to play outside if the kids or their parents are not legalized citizens?

No. A landlord cannot refuse to allow kids to play outside on the basis that they are not legal American citizens. This would be a complete violation of federal law. Federal law prohibits discrimination against children – – regardless of whether that child is an American citizen. All kids are protected by these laws, even illegal aliens.

Can I go to jail if I file a lawsuit and lose?

No. A person can never be sent to jail for losing a housing discrimination lawsuit. American courts do not send people to jail for losing civil lawsuits. A housing discrimination lawsuit is a civil lawsuit.

I don’t have any money. How can I afford it?

If we decide to accept your discrimination case, then you will not be required to pay any attorney’s fees or costs unless we win the case for you or successfully cause the other side to settle before trial and pay you money. If we accept your discrimination case and cannot recover any money for you, then you will owe nothing to us for our efforts. However, if you are being sued for wrongful eviction and require a defense to an unlawful detainer lawsuit, you will need to separately reach an agreement for us to defend you in such a case.