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Minnesota State Immigration Laws

Navigating the intricacies of immigration law can be daunting and challenging. This is particularly true for immigrants facing potential deportation or removal. It's essential to know your rights under immigration laws.

In this FindLaw article, we provide an overview of the immigration laws in Minnesota. It will highlight the fundamental rights and obligations of immigrants and non-U.S. citizens under the law. The topics discussed in this article are:

Law Enforcement and Immigration in Minnesota

Federal immigration authorities mainly administer the enforcement of immigration laws. Below are the agencies that enforce immigration laws:

There are state agencies that help them enforce immigration laws locally. In 2017, "Secure Communities" was in effect. This program tried to make it more efficient to enforce immigration laws. The DHS shared data about arrested or imprisoned individuals with the FBI. This information was then used to verify the person's immigration status and assess their potential for deportation or removal.

But President Joe Biden revoked "Secure Communities" in January 2021. ICE still has a program that replaces "Secure Communities," the Criminal Apprehension Program (CAP), which only checks the statuses of convicted people. CAP supports the Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) of ICE. The program emphasizes protecting U.S. communities by identifying, arresting, and removing incarcerated and at-large non-U.S. citizens.

Minnesota Employment Checks and E-Verify Requirements

E-Verify is a federal system that employers may use to check the employment eligibility of their newly hired employees. The federal government, through the DHS, administers the program. Now, 22 states require employers to use this system. Minnesota is included.

The requirement applies to vendors and sub-contractors with contracts above $50,000.

Driver's License/ID Requirements

Minnesota allows immigrants without documentation to get driver's licenses. This became law with Minnesota House Bill 4, or the "Driver's License for All Bill," signed on March 7, 2023. This bill allowed people to get identification cards and driver's licenses, regardless of their immigration status.

The state only requires people getting a driver's license to meet specific qualifications. This includes proof of Minnesota residency, identity, and date of birth.

Recipients of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) may also get a state ID or driver's license.

Public Benefits Restrictions

Immigrants without documentation in Minnesota can use the following benefits:

  • Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children
  • Emergency Medicaid
  • Prenatal care
  • Family and Medical Leave Act
  • Emergency shelter

The public benefits that people could enjoy may vary depending on their immigration status. The National Immigrant Women's Advocacy Project has a detailed chart of public benefits available.

Education Benefits

A large number of the foreign-born population in Minnesota are refugees. As of 2019, the state has the biggest population of Hmong and Somali people in the United States. Minnesota has been a refuge for most Hmong people since the mid-1970s. This happened following the communist takeover in Laos.

Due to these changes in demographics, education became a rising concern. So, the Minnesota legislature passed the Minnesota Dream Act.

Minnesota has a Prosperity Act or "Dream Act," which covers higher education for immigrants living here illegally and DACA recipients. The Minnesota legislature signed it into law on May 23, 2013. It granted immigrants without documentation and DACA recipients access to in-state tuition. But, they must meet certain requirements to access this tuition rate. The requirements include:

  • Attended high school in Minnesota for at least three years.
  • Graduated from high school in Minnesota or earned a GED.
  • Registered with the U.S. Selective Service
  • Showed proof that they sent an application for lawful immigration status when they could

Some universities and colleges in Minnesota allow access to in-state tuition regardless of immigration status or home state.

Voting ID Rules

In Minnesota, registered voters do not have to show photo ID to vote. But, if a voter hasn't voted in the past four years or more, proof of residency might be necessary.

Below are the acceptable forms of identification:

  • Driver's license
  • State ID
  • U.S. passport
  • U.S. military ID
  • Tribal ID
  • Minnesota university or college ID
  • Minnesota high school ID

Housing Ordinances and Immigration

The Fair Housing Act protects a person's right to fair housing. The Act prohibits discrimination against the rental, sale, and financing of dwellings and other housing-related matters. The Act protects all people, regardless of their immigration status.

Related Resources

Several legal resources and organizations in Minnesota offer immigration legal assistance. Included among them are:

  • American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) — An association of attorneys who teach and practice immigration law. It offers help with various legal matters and supports asylum seekers, foreign students, and athletes.
  • American Immigration Council (AIC) — The council brings together various professionals who work to protect immigrant rights. They proactively serve migrants and noncitizens in immigration detention and help achieve justice.
  • Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota (ILCM) — A nonprofit organization that offers help to immigrants who are victims of domestic violence. It also gives immigration legal services to refugees and low-income immigrants in Minnesota.
  • LawHelpMN (Minnesota Legal Services Coalition) — They offer referrals and connect immigrants to organizations that can give legal help. This includes providing legal advice, legal representation, or consultation over the phone.
  • Know Your Rights — This is a free fact sheet for immigrants and their family members on protecting themselves during immigration raids.
  • FindLaw Immigration Law Resources — FindLaw offers access to various articles about immigration law. You can learn about the basics of immigration law. We also cover intricate topics such as naturalization, lawful permanent resident application, and other FAQs related to immigration law.

Learn About Your Rights as an Immigrant in Minnesota: Seek Legal Help

Understanding the rules and regulations of immigration law can be challenging. Legal information and rules could apply differently in every case. We recommend you seek legal aid from an immigration attorney.

An immigration attorney can give you legal advice tailored to your case. They offer a wide range of legal services related to immigration laws. Included among them are as follows:

  • Processing of lawful permanent resident status
  • Getting U.S. citizenship through naturalization
  • Getting an employment permit or work visa
  • Legal representation to immigration court
  • Other matters related to immigration law

Hire an immigration attorney to help you through the immigration process.

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