Brief #47—Civil Rights
On June 24, 2018, President Donald Trump tweeted remarks that suggested that immigrants who cross the border into the United States be denied certain legal protections. In his tweet, the President said, “We cannot allow all of these people to invade our country. When somebody comes in, we must immediately, with no judges or court cases, bring them back from where they came.” Section One of the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution says “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty or property without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” LEARN MORE, LEARN MORE
The current heated debate regarding immigration in the United States today has ignited interest in the framework of laws that apply to immigrants who are physically inside or trying to enter the United States. The June 24 tweet by President Trump appears to have been a trial balloon to gauge whether there would be any interest in implementing a policy along the lines of what the President suggested. Even if President Trump floated the idea, the fact of the matter is that the suggestion of depriving illegal aliens of legal rights is contrary to American Supreme Court case law that goes back nearly one hundred and thirty years. The key term in the 14th Amendment (and in the Fifth Amendment, the companion due process clause applicable to the Federal Government) is the word “person.” The term clearly applies to each and every person. It does not distinguish persons based on their citizenship, their race or any other differing factor. The only criterion to be eligible for protection under the Amendments, such as due process of law, is to be a human being.
The Supreme Court reiterated this long accepted principle in the 2001 case Zadvydas v. Davis. It stated that illegal aliens are entitled to “due process” even when their presence may be “unlawful, involuntary or transitory.” Due process does not mean that the United States must give the immigrants what they wish for which in these cases means permanent entry into the United States. But since the U.S. is looking to deprive immigrants of this liberty interest, due process means that the government must follow established legal procedures before they are denied entry into the U.S. Due process thus ensures that every person’s situation must be given a fair chance to be heard, competent legal counsel to advocate on their behalf and a neutral decision maker (usually a judge) that will rule on their petition to enter. President Trump’s suggestion appears to be nothing more than an appeal to his voting base and does not seem likely to have any effect on this well – established and universally accepted legal principle as applied to immigrants seeking to enter the U.S. LEARN MORE, LEARN MORE, LEARN MORE
- American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) – info page on the harms that can occur when depriving immigrants of due process protections.
- Legal Orientation Program (DOJ) – immigrant information program at DOJ that should be kept open but was announced was being closed by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
- Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF) – Latino non – profit group’s webpage on immigrant rights issues.
This brief was compiled by Rod Maggay. If you have comments or want to add the name of your organization to this brief, please contact Rod@USResistnews.org.
Photo by Cole Patrick