What Immigration Status Means for Working People

Adelante We Rise! helps immigrant workers advance as far as possible toward full rights and equal protections. The table below demonstrates how immigration status could limit immigrant workers full participation in our society. (En Español.)

Deferred Action or Temporary Protected Status
Legal Permanent Residence (Green Card)
U.S. Citizenship
Civic Participation
• Community and union organizing, social actions and mobilization.
• Cannot vote in elections, with few local exceptions.
Several municipalities allow LPRs to vote in local elections for school boards, council members, etc., and to run for local elected offices.

• Serve on a jury.
• Run for federally elected offices.
• Vote in all local, state and national elections.

Safety Net
Barred from public retirement, health, disability, housing, postsecondary education and food assistance, unemployment insurance and most other public benefits. Barred from most public benefits, except eligible for Social Security benefits after paying taxes for at least 10 years. Also eligible for Medicare and Earned Income Tax Credit benefits if they meet requirements. Eligible for public benefits after five years of LPR status, with exceptions for minors, veterans and limited humanitarian purposes.

All citizens are currently eligible for public benefits, as long as they meet each program’s criteria.

Live in constant fear of separation and deportation. May not petition or give status to family members, nor adjust to permanent resident status. Some crimes may result in nonrenewal or deportation. Must wait three to 10 years to bring spouses and minor children from abroad. Cannot bring parents or other family members. Some crimes or violations may result in deportation.

• May bring spouses and minor children from abroad without delay (unlimited visas).
• May bring adult or married children and siblings within three to 10 years.

Workplace Rights
Due to limited remedies under Supreme Court case law, little practical protection from workplace discrimination and employer abuse. Enjoy all existing legal protections and remedies, with limited exceptions.

Enjoy all existing legal protections and remedies.

International Travel
Risk deportation and three- to 10-year bars to re-entering the United States. May travel for limited humanitarian, educational or employment purposes with advance permission. May travel outside of the United States, but frequent or lengthy travel may trigger residency reviews, and security checks often are reviewed upon re-entry.

Ability to travel freely and visit family abroad.

Economic Impact
Face rampant wage theft and unsafe working conditions. Limited rights make it easy for unscrupulous employers to exploit undocumented workers and drive down conditions for everybody. Have become more integrated into economic life, getting new jobs and increasing their earnings. Economists estimate that expanded deferred action will increase GDP, decrease the deficit and raise average wages for all workers. • Naturalized U.S. citizens earn 8-10% higher wages than noncitizens. They also invest more in the United States, which strengthens our economy.
• Passage of the Senate’s 2013 comprehensive immigration reform bill offering a lengthy pathway to legal permanent residence and eventual citizenship would have decreased the federal deficit by $197 billion by 2023 and by $700 billion by 2044.