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Immigration Status is a Protected Class

Did You Know?


It’s not legal to discriminate against people based on their immigration status in Washington in the areas of employment, public accommodation, housing, credit and insurance. That means that no matter if you are undocumented, have a green card, or are anywhere in the immigration process, that CAN’T be used to discriminate against you.


What is a protected class?


In the U.S., there are things about a person that are protected, meaning that you can’t be discriminated against because of these specific things. Everywhere in the U.S. (federally), you can’t be discriminated against based on race, age, color, religion/faith, sex, national origin or ancestry, disability, genetic information, citizenship, or veteran status. In other words, these are protected classes across the entire country.

In Washington state, citizenship or immigration status are also protected classes, in addition to creed, sexual orientation, the presence of any sensory, mental, or physical disability, and the use of a trained dog guide or service animal by a person with a disability.

What does it mean for immigration status to be a protected class?


Entities in the areas of in the areas of employment, public accommodation, housing, credit and insurance cannot discriminate against a person or give preference to a person because they are an immigrant, because they were born in the United States, because they intend to become a citizen or permanent resident, or because they intend to return to their country of origin.


What might discrimination based on immigration status look like?

Discrimination based on immigration would look different in different scenarios. One way to know if you’re being discriminated against based on immigration status is if you were asked to prove citizenship or were made to send documents that show immigration status, unless required by law, and were then refused what you came in for.

For example, if you were required to prove citizenship or immigration status to an employer and later were refused work, promotions, and/or fired from the job.

What do I do if My Rights Have Been Violated?
  • Report an Immigration Violation with the U.S. Dept. of Justice or call 1-866-347-2423.

  • Contact CAIR-WA at

  • File a violation through the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission:

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