Emory International Law Review


Even in the twenty-first century, some households in the United States face the risk of going without electricity or running water in their homes because of their national origin or immigration status. The practice of denying utility services to individuals who cannot provide a social security number (SSN) violates U.S. federal law and is contrary to international human rights norms and obligations. This Article discusses options for challenging these policies under U.S. law, specifically under the Privacy Act and the Fair Housing Act (FHA). It then analyzes how such utility service denials violate international human rights treaties and norms regarding security of the person, adequate standards of living, the right to water, and the right to equal treatment. Together, these domestic and international legal authorities provide a basis for immigrants' rights and human rights advocates to challenge these policies in court and lobby against the adoption of such policies.