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Tuesday, July 26, 2005

 

To Whom Does The Constitution Apply?

The protections guaranteed and Rights recognized by the Constitution and its amendments apply to everyone who has entered into the contract that is the Constitution. There are two groups who have done so: 1) Natural born citizens and 2) Naturalized citizens.

The commenter to the original post suggests that the Equal Protection clause of the 14th amendment indicates that the entire Constitution applies to everyone in the country whether they are here legally or not. Let's take a quick look to see if that stands up. Here's Section 1 of the 14 amendment:

Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. 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.
What I get from this is, first, that states cannot make or enforce laws that infringe upon "privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States". To me, that sounds like the amendment is directing that states will not abridge my free speech just because that particular right is not recognized in my state's constitution.

Second, no state is allowed to "deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law." That, obviously, means that even illegal immigrants are guaranteed a fair trial before being jailed or deported.

Finally, no state is allowed to "deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." That does not, however imply that the rights recognized, or the privileges granted, to individuals in the Constitution apply to non-citizens/illegal immigrants. And, of course, you don't get to pick and choose which laws you'd like applied to an illegal immigrant (or anyone else for that matter). So laws regarding illegal immigration still count.

While this may sound cold hearted and just plain mean I think it is important for two reasons. First, to say that the Constitution applies fully to anyone who happens to be standing on American soil leads to all sorts of problems. Are POWs guaranteed due process if brought to the US? The answer is, and must be, and emphatic 'no'. How about invading enemy soldiers? Or perhaps just a bunch of thugs in some 3rd world hell hole that manage to breech the physical defenses of an American embassy?

Second, if one applies to the rights recognized and protections granted in the Constitution to those who enter the country illegally, then what is the incentive for following our laws in the first place. It's the same old (yet valid) argument that by not punishing those who break laws you are actively encouraging others to break more laws.

The Constitution is a contract that one enters into by right of birth (unfair, maybe...but that's just the way it is) or by choice via legal immigration (a difficult process surely, but again...too bad, that's just the way it is). Anyone who chooses to enter our country while choosing to not enter into the contract as proscribed by law is not worthy of its protections.

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"Finally, no state is allowed to "deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." That does not, however imply that the rights recognized, or the privileges granted, to individuals in the Constitution apply to non-citizens/illegal immigrants."

So, what you're saying with the above is: By using the language "any person", what they really meant was "some people." Brilliant!
 
your ignorance is hilarious. Do you think your amateur interpretation of the words of the constitution are valid in any way shape or form? You obviously know nothing about constitutional law.

The constitution's reach does not end at citizens and legal resident's of the state. Courts have consistently held that rights like due process and habeus corpus apply to aliens, regardless of legal status. This is not up-in-the-air law, this is well established.

The constitution refers to "the people" and the U.S. Supreme Court has said time and time again that "the people" includes undocumented immigrants, persons who are in the territory of the U.S.

Example: The Supreme Court in Plyer v. Doe said that, “The illegal aliens who are plaintiffs in these cases challenging the statute may claim the benefit of the Equal Protection Clause, which provides that no State
shall ‘deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.’ Whatever his status under the immigration laws, an alien is a ‘person’ in any ordinary sense of that term…"
 
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