The Rights of Illegal Immigrants
The Rights of
S A Campbell
An interesting side argument has developed relating to the emotional issue of illegal immigrants in this country. There have been repeated references to the ‘rights’ of the illegal immigrants. Some apparently believe that because a person is present in this country, whether they’re here legally or not, they are entitled to the full benefits and/or rights belonging to a legal resident of this country. Is this a valid argument? Does ones mere presence, regardless of the legality of it, allow unfettered access to the rights and benefits of this country? Or are there certain privileges that are supposed to be reserved for legal residents of this country? Are the liberals attempting to allow these illegal immigrants access to things they have no real legal right to?
Let us be clear; many try to blur the debate by claiming such reforms proposed by the Federal Government is aimed at immigrants. It is not! It is aimed at illegal immigrants. Those individuals, for whatever reason, have deliberately snuck into this country, illegally. Their first act is willfully breaking our laws regarding immigration and then continuing this act by refusing to register and begin the process to become a legal citizen. Granted this country is essentially a country of immigrants, but they established laws governing the entry into this country they created. Except for the descendents of the Indians that were here before the white invasion, we are all descended from immigrants. And except for the majority of the Negro population whose ancestors were brought here as slaves, our ancestors came here willingly. Yes this is a land of opportunity but it is also a land of laws.
Now many, possible in hopes of culling future political support, wish to ignore laws that govern legal entry and prevent the government from pursuing and/or punishing those individuals that are violating our laws. We shall not discuss the practical aspect of locating and prosecuting the millions that are here illegally. What we want to see is if the claim that they possess ‘rights’ is a valid argument.
Many seem to confuse rights guaranteed in the US Constitution with things that are benefits or privileges granted to legal US citizens. Does an illegal immigrant have a right to the welfare system, public education, the minimum wage, a driver’s license, to be able to speak to an attorney while incarcerated, or due process? Does the Constitution make a distinction?
The United States Constitution is the basis of our laws. If a law violates a principle of our Constitution it is declared unconstitutional and is no longer enforced. Although not all of our cherished rights are succinctly spelled out in the Constitution. Sometimes one has to read between the lines. I charge anyone to show anywhere in the Constitution where our hallowed ‘Constitutional Rights’, that almost everyone is aware, thanks to television, are clearly enumerated. One will not find definite statements in the Constitution that one has the right to remain silent, the right to consult with an attorney while they are in police custody and if they can not afford an attorney that one will be appointed to them at no cost. It is not specifically stated, but the intent is there. Can one also claim the same in regards to the rights of illegal immigrants? Must one ‘read between the lines’ to find such support or is this claim baseless?
Who is a Citizen”
Let us begin by looking to see if the US Constitution clearly defines what a citizen is. Does it say exactly what is necessary for one to be considered a US citizen” The answer is an undeniable yes.
In the first line of the 14th Amendment it is stated;
All persons born or naturalized in the United States,,,are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside
There should be little room for debate as to what the Constitution says makes someone a citizen of this country. There are some illegals that attempt to circumvent this law by smuggling pregnant women into this country and have them give birth while in our country and then using or abusing this law site that the child is now a US citizen. They further negate the law by advancing the emotional argument that it isn’t right to deport the child with its illegal mother back to the country they came from since the child is a US citizen and it isn’t right to separate the child from its mother.
Obviously this is a calculated ploy to exploit a loop hole in the amendment. Congress should make an effort to close this loop hole. One possibility would be to change the wording to state that anyone born of parents who are present in this country legally. Unfortunately Congress tends to procrastinate on such issues until it either becomes a crisis and is forced to deal with it or else because it is a convent re-election issue that can be exploited to sway voters. But that’s another argument.
Let’s make it clear; according to the US Constitution a citizen is either someone that was born here or has been naturalized. To be a naturalized citizen means that the person has obeyed the immigration laws of this country. That is they applied for and received a visa and their application for citizenship was approved; not that they illegally entered the country and avoided apprehension and conviction for a set amount of time.
There is also the idea to grant an amnesty to those illegal immigrants that have been here for a certain length of time. This would seem to be a violation of certain Constitutional rules. These illegal immigrants have committed a criminal offense against the United States, maybe not on the level of murder but it is still a criminal offense. Congress does not have the authority to forgive a crime; they can enact new laws declaring that something that was illegal is now no longer illegal. Only the President has the authority under the Constitution to grant pardons or reprieves to individuals for “offenses against the United States”. (US Constitution Article II, section 2) But for the President to be able to grant a pardon the person must first be tried and convicted. Also, pardons are usually granted by the President on an individual case. Secondly to grant blanket amnesty would require a change of the 14th amendment which requires two thirds of both Houses to approve. (US Constitution Article V)
Ignoring the reasons listed above, what if Congress decides to grant amnesty to the illegal immigrants that are here? First off this country is suppose to be fair, just and reasonable but is this true here” What does it say to those immigrants that obeyed our rules and applied for citizenship, obtained a visa or green card, maintained gainful employment while they were here and did not commit a criminal offense? Isn’t this an injustice to them? What of those that are waiting to gain citizenship? Would this blanket amnesty apply to them too? Or would the Congress, in effect, tell them they were wrong in following the rules? Exactly who would this amnesty cover? Only those illegal immigrants currently in the country or anyone that can sneak in and avoid capture for a set period of time? The sheer magnitude of implementing such a program is overwhelming, but then practicality has never really been a major obstacle to Congress.
There is a serious oversight that many have committed in this issue; whether this oversight is due to simple ignorance or a deliberate attempt to blur the issue is uncertain. The issue is whether there are other things enumerated in the Constitution related to personal liberties and just who these apply to; legal citizens or anyone in the United States, legally or not.
An examination of the Constitution shows that it does speak of the rights of the people but also refers to privileges and benefits. Again, is it speaking of the same thing or are there differences and to whom do these items apply to?
The Constitution uses the word people a total of nine times. It must be determined if the word is being used to refer to a specific group of individuals or as a general, all-inclusive term. Below are the nine times the word ‘people’ is found in the Constitution:
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America. (Preamble)
The House of Representatives shall be composed of Members chosen every second Year by the People of the several States… (Article I Section 2)
…the right of the people peaceably to assemble… (1st Amendment)
…the right of the people to keep and bear Arms… (2nd Amendment)
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures… (4th Amendment)
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people. (9th Amendment)
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people. (10th Amendment)
The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, elected by the people thereof…the legislature of any State may empower the executive thereof to make temporary appointments until the people fill the vacancies by election as the legislature may direct. (17th Amendment)
In the first use of ‘the people’ common sense would lead one to the conclusion that ‘the people’ is referring to the citizens of the United States. From the contest of the word in examples two and six through nine the same conclusion can be reasonably drawn. Examples three, four and five no definite conclusion can be drawn but since these are within the initial Bill of Rights and the Bill of Rights was drawn up to enumerate the rights of the citizens of the new nation. It’s a safe assumption that these too are referring to citizens of the United States.
Rights vs Privileges
Again recall that the 14th Amendment defines a citizen as anyone that was either born here or has been naturalized. The above listed examples are rights enjoyed by legal US citizens; among many others. But what about such things as; welfare, minimum wage, public schooling, Social Security and/or driver’s licenses can these considered rights?
How many teens have not heard from parents that driving or more correctly a driver’s license is not a right but a privilege? The above listed items can not be seen as rights; they are privileges and/or benefits that our country has established for its citizens. And the Constitution does make reference to these in a couple of places. In Article 4 section 2 it says that “The Citizens of each State shall be entitled to all Privileges and Immunities of Citizens in the several States.” There can be no argument, at least there shouldn’t be, about who and what this is referring to.
Another example is in the 14th Amendment. There it states that “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States.” Again can there be any question as to who or what this is talking about? So it would seem that access to the welfare system is a benefit and/or a privilege that a US citizen has; something probably not foreseen by our Founding Fathers. The same can be said for the Social Security system and the public school system.
Rights of the Illegals?
Do they have any rights according to the Constitution or are they non-persons? Do they have any protection under the Constitution even if they are here illegally? The answer is yes they do have some rights but not as extensive as many liberals claim. Remember that many things liberals claim the illegals have a right to, they do not. That the items many claim they have a right to are in fact benefits or privileges possessed by the citizens of this country. So exactly what rights do these interlopers possess?
In truth very few. They are not entitled to have unfettered access to our welfare system, health care and/or public education system. The Constitution is quite clear as to what rights everyone possesses in this country, whether they are a legal citizen, foreign visitor or illegal alien. In the first section of the 14rh Amendment it states;
…nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law…
There is what they have a right to; due process. They can not have their liberty, property or life taken without proper legal proceedings (i.e. a trial). There, it can’t be any clearer. The only right they have is the right to have their day in court!
Compromising the Constitution
The Constitution clearly enumerates the rights, benefits and privileges of a United States citizen. These rights, benefits and privileges that are bestowed upon an individual by either being born here or being naturalized, not to just anyone! The politicians have no right to give these benefits away simply in hopes of gaining future political favor. If they are allowed to do this where is the incentive to become a US citizen? For that matter where’s the incentive to obey any law?
These are benefits and privileges we have paid for or are paying for with our taxes. Regardless of the correctness of some of these programs that are designed to help US citizens; they are intended for US citizens and not just anyone. If they desire to take advantage of these benefits and privileges let them abide by our rules! If they object to the unfair treatment they may be receiving by unscrupulous employers let them either become a legal resident or receive a visa and then they may enjoy the protection of our employment laws. If things are so unfair for these illegals here then let them go back to their own country!
The premise that these interlopers are providing a vital service to our economy is not correct. Some even try to claim that without them our economy would collapse. This is not true; studies show that they in fact take more out of our economy then they put in. These people are in a sense, leeches, on our country. Their insistence of their rights is a bogus claim; they are abusing our system and our resources.
The rights the liberals want to give them are not rights but privileges and benefits belonging to US citizens. If they wish to have a legal access to our public school system, welfare system and/or Social Security system then let them obey our laws and follow the process in becoming a naturalized citizen. Finally if these illegal trespassers wish our government to acquiesce to their outrageous demands, which they really have no right to demand, again let them become legal residents of this country.
President Lincoln once said that all the armies of Europe could not successfully invade this country; that we would meet them united and strong if we were ever so threatened. If this country ever fell, he warned, it would happen from within. Let’s face it; there is a cancer eating at the rights of our country. Do we, as citizens, and/or our politicians that have been elected by us to represent us have the moral strength to face this dilemma? Or shall we look away and leave it for a future generation to handle; much like the slavery issue? A mighty oak is not felled with one stroke but a number of chops. Remember that freedom calls for eternal vigilance.
More by this Author
Many speak of a separation of Church and state, claiming it's in the Constitution but is it? Is there a clear separation mentioned in the Consitution or for that matter anywhere in the legal record? The truth may...