Should Undocumented Immigrants Fear the COVID-19 Vaccine?

As the Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine continues to be rolled out across the United States, many undocumented immigrants wonder if they can and should get the vaccine. Among their fears is reprisal, including deportation, because of their immigration status. The U.S. Surgeon General has recently made it clear that no one, including undocumented immigrants, should be excluded from getting the vaccine.

Pew Research estimates there are 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. The more who are inoculated, the better for everyone. This is especially true for undocumented immigrants, many of whom work in food and service industries with heavy human interaction. They may fear that a vaccination record will land them on a deportation list or have other consequences. They also fear that giving any personal information, such as an address or phone number, could negatively impact them or their families.

A U.S. Health and Human Services Director recently stated that no personal information is needed to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Earlier, U.S. officials suggested that requiring a driver’s license, passport, or other identification to get the vaccine would help track vaccinations. However, many states have already declared they would not comply with this suggestion as it would exclude many undocumented workers in the food, agriculture, hospitality, and service industries from getting the vaccine. An undocumented worker can contact an immigration lawyer for the most current information.

Are Undocumented Immigrants Included in the Vaccine Rollout Plan?

Undocumented immigrants are included in the hierarchy of vaccine recipients currently being used in the U.S. An undocumented immigrant should contact their employer, health care provider, or local social service agency to understand when they may be eligible to get the vaccine and how they can get it. They should get the vaccine as soon as they can and encourage the people they live with to get the vaccine as well.

Can Employers Require Undocumented Immigrants to Get the Vaccine?

The government has stated that employers should encourage all employees to get the vaccine when it is offered to them, including undocumented workers. Employers have the right to require that employees, except for people with specific health or religious concerns, get vaccinated.

Can an Undocumented Immigrant be Deported After the Vaccine?

No personal information is required to get the vaccine. Undocumented immigrants should not fear deportation or other consequences from taking the COVID-19 vaccine. In fact, getting the vaccine is beneficial for undocumented workers, since many of them work in high-contact food, agriculture, and service industries. The more vaccinations taken among these populations, the better the U.S. can contain the spread of COVID-19.

What are the Grounds for Deportation?

Getting the COVID-19 vaccination will not lead to deportation or other consequences. The following is an overview of the grounds for removal from the U.S. as outlined in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA):

  • Committed certain types of crimes, including aggravated felony, domestic violence, or a crime of moral turpitude, within five years of entering the U.S. A crime of moral turpitude is defined under Pennsylvania law as an act of baseness, vileness, or depravity that contrasts to the accepted and customary rule of right and duty between two human beings.
  • Committed marriage fraud.
  • Aided and abetted in smuggling others into the U.S.
  • Has been convicted of any drug-related violations, except a charge of one incident of possessing 30 grams or less of marijuana for personal use.
  • Committed document fraud.
  • Falsely claimed to be a U.S. citizen.

What is the Deportation Process?

Expedited removal allows immigration officers to quickly deport undocumented immigrants or those who have committed fraud or misrepresentation if they are apprehended within two weeks of arrival and within 100 miles of the Canadian or Mexican border. If expedited removal is not used, then a court-based process applies. The immigrant removal process begins with a Notice to Appear (NTA), which includes the reason for deportation or removal. At this point, the undocumented immigrant should hire a lawyer for help with the process.

The first hearing determines if the immigrant is ready to proceed with the case or needs to hire a lawyer. It is important to note that voluntary removal can be an option for some undocumented immigrants. A judge will verify the NTA information and the approval for deportation or an application for the relief from deportation. If one is not eligible, then deportation is ordered.

If one is eligible, an individual hearing for relief from deportation will be issued. This includes testimony and witnesses, as well as the judge’s oral decision at the end of the hearing. If a judge does not verbally decide, a written decision will be issued later.

If deportation is ordered, an appeal can be sent to the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) within 30 days. It is important to note that the immigration service can appeal an unfavorable individual hearing decision but cannot appeal an unfavorable decision by the BIA. In the case of an unfavorable decision, the immigrant can appeal to the appropriate U.S. Court of Appeals. An appellate court decision can be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court by either the immigrant or the immigration service. A lawyer who is knowledgeable about immigration law will be able to assist with an appeal.

Philadelphia Immigration Lawyers at Surin & Griffin, P.C. Help Clients with All Types of Immigration Issues

Whether you are an undocumented or documented immigrant, you may have concerns about the COVID-19 vaccine and your status. A Philadelphia immigration lawyer at Surin & Griffin, P.C. can help you with your apprehensions and other related matters. Call us at 215-925-4435 or complete our online form for an initial consultation. Located in Philadelphia, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and nationwide.