Undocumented Debtors

Undocumented immigrants in financial distress are barred from seeking many forms of assistance. Bankruptcy is one tool that is, in theory, available to undocumented debtors because legal status is not a prerequisite to bankruptcy relief. This Article explores undocumented debtors’ interactions with the bankruptcy system. Undocumented debtors face both formal and informal barriers to bankruptcy filing, including fear of deportation, misinformation, and the legal requirement that the debtor produce financial records. It is both possible and desirable to ease many of these barriers. Bankruptcy relief facilitates the rehabilitation of debtors in financial distress, contributes to the economic well-being of the debtor’s family and community, and provides an orderly, equitable resolution of the debtor’s financial affairs. These values apply with no less force when the debtor is undocumented.