Does the U.S. Constitution defend the rights of undocumented immigrants?

LatinaLista — An excellent piece appears in the student-written Yale Daily News about immigration raids that occurred in 2007 in a Latino dominant neighborhood of New Haven, Connecticut.

U.S. Constitution

The federal agents came at dawn on June 6, 2007, pounding on doors, yelling in an unfamiliar tongue, storming bedrooms, lining up the men on one side of the room and the women on the other. In three hours, they raided eight apartments and homes in New Haven’s predominantly Latino neighborhood of Fair Haven, making 29 arrests. Five of them were the intended targets; the rest were detained along the way.

As a result of those raids, four of the detainees took the federal agents who conducted the raid, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents, to court for violating their constitutional rights.
They won.

Last June, a judge sided with four of them, ruling that the agents, who refused to testify in person, “egregiously” violated constitutional protections against search and seizure; other cases are still on appeal.

As can be expected, critics of undocumented immigrants feel this ruling is a miscarriage of justice. After all, people who aren’t legally in the United States have no such Constitutional rights, or do they?


It turns out they do and it’s to everyone’s best interest that judges continue to uphold the basic rights as outlined by the US Constitution — for everyone.
In exploring the question as to just who is the U.S. Constitution for, I posed the question to an U.S. Constitution academic expert.
University of Virginia law professor, Daniel Ortiz, accepted the challenge to answer this politically thorny question.

…Please keep in mind, I’m no immigration specialist. That’s a very complex area of law and you well might receive different answers from those who know it well. The short answer would be, I think, that different parts of the Constitution are for different people and some are for more than people. The Supreme Court has, for example, declared that corporations have certain “civil rights,” like speech, although they don’t necessarily track the rights of natural persons.
As to natural persons, some rights extend to citizens, some to only citizens of certain qualifications (e.g., age), and some to people here generally. Some extend extraterritorially and some do not.

From Professor Ortiz’s answer, while it sounds vague, it does underscore a very important point — there are certain inalienable rights in the Constitution that apply to all people living within the boundaries of this country.
From how I see it, to allow the violation of these rights due to the citizenship status of a person diminishes the Constitution’s ability to safeguard those rights for everyone. It would become a free-for-all in the courts and the power of the Constitution would become so watered down the possibility of anarchy would become a real threat to the stability of the nation.
It’s in cases like these that we do have to marvel at the vision and foresight those men who created the Constitution had at that time.
In researching about the US Constitution, I came across a site that had some interesting, little-known facts about the document and its history:

The U.S. Constitution has 4,400 words. It is the oldest and shortest written Constitution of any major government in the world.”
The Constitution does not set forth requirements for the right to vote. As a result, at the outset of the Union, only male property-owners could vote. African Americans were not considered citizens, and women were excluded from the electoral process. Native Americans were not given the right to vote until 1924.
The first time the formal term “The United States of America” was used was in the Declaration of Independence.
The delegates were involved in debates from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. six days a week with only a 10 day break during the duration of the convention
The only other language used in various parts of the Constitution is Latin.
The term “others” is used in the Constitution to categorize ethnic minorities.
The word “democracy” does not appear once in the Constitution.
John Adams referred to the Constitution as “the greatest single effort of national deliberation that the world has ever seen” and George Washington wrote to the Marquis de Lafayette that “It (the Constitution) appears to me, then, little short of a miracle.”

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13 Comments

  1. Liquidmicro said:

    You really need to read the court documentation. You are supposedly a reporter, right.
    Here is the actual conclusion of the men:
    Conclusion
    Considering the totality of the circumstances, the Court determines that Respondent has demonstrated a prima facie case that the immigration agents’ conduct worked an egregious violation to his Fourth Amendment rights.20 Thus, the Court finds that the contested Form 1- 213 must be suppressed.
    Furthermore, based on the record before us, it appears that Respondent was placed in removal proceedings exclusively upon the information that he provided to immigration agents during the course of their interrogation.
    The Form I – 213 explicitly states that determination of Respondent’s status in the United States was informed by his “inability” to procure relevant documentation, and an inculpatory “self-admission”.21 In tum, the factual allegations contained in the NTA and the claimed grounds of removability hew closely to the information contained in the Form 1-213.
    Furthermore, the Government has not produced additional evidence to sustain the charge of removability independent of the Form 1-213.22
    Finally, we agree with Respondent that his removal proceedings must be terminated, because the Government has not introduced admissible independent evidence supporting the factual allegations stated in the NT A, and thus it has failed to meet its burden of establishing Respondent’s removability by clear and convincing evidence. See INA § 240(c)(3)(A).
    So as you can see, the Government did not produce enough evidence to prove that they were Deportable Aliens. This does not grant Illegals Liberties based on our constitution, what it does show is that ICE and DHS could not prove they were here Illegally based on coerced testimony, thus, there is no proof they were in fact Illegal Aliens. What the court has stated is there is no evidence that they are here illegally, thus due to Plausible Distinction and in the courts eyes, they are permanent residents or citizens protected by our Constitution and laws.
    From page 24:
    We are not addressing a claim made by an alien seeking admission into the country, outside of a restaurant, driving on the street, or at a workplace site. We are addressing a claim that immigration agents forcefully entered a private home without a warrant, without probable cause, and without consent.

  2. Marisa Treviño said:

    Thank you for that detailed analysis of the court’s conclusions, Liquidmicro. However, in the end, it doesn’t change the fact that if it weren’t for the original suit filed under the auspice of having their Constitutional rights violated, the court would not have reached that conclusion. Also, let’s try and be a little more civil in our responses. No longer will snide insults or name-calling be tolerated on this forum — as some have already noticed.

  3. Indiana Bob said:

    It really isn’t that hard.
    The Constitution is quite clear that the bill of rights applies to persons, not just citizens. The 14th Amendment defined who a citizen is (born or naturalized), but then in the very next clause declared that no PERSON can be denied equal protection. Phyler v Doe solidified the argument that all persons, regardless of naturalization status, have 14th Amendment rights, which gives them bill of rights protections by proxy.
    I am sure the “nativists” heads will explode, but those are the facts. Like I suggested earlier, perhaps you anti-immigrant folks should argue that undocumented immigrants are not people. And again, good luck with that one.
    Click on my name for more analysis of nativism, if you dare :)

  4. Brian said:

    You are so right, lm, and ICE can investigate these people further and ascertain their status, resulting in the discovery of evidence that would result in repatriation to their homelands. Illegal aliens have no constitutional right to hide their status. Deportation is the ultimate denial of constitutional rights, as it means removal from the jurisdiction of that document.

  5. Liquidmicro said:

    However, in the end, it doesn’t change the fact that if it weren’t for the original suit filed under the auspice of having their Constitutional rights violated, the court would not have reached that conclusion.
    That is correct, except it still is undetermined that they are/were Illegal Aliens, thus your topic, and the article you got it from, is factually incorrect, you have assumed them to be Illegal Aliens by allegation. Once it is proven, if ever, they are Illegal Aliens, they then lose any/all Constitutional Liberties they may have had favorable and fall under the UN Charter of Human Rights and our Immigration Laws, thus, Illegal Aliens have no Liberties granted them from our Constitution.
    Now, if as you state: No longer will snide insults or name-calling be tolerated on this forum — as some have already noticed.
    Please show where my comments you have failed to post fall under this rule.

  6. Liquidmicro said:

    I am sure the “nativists” heads will explode, but those are the facts. Like I suggested earlier, perhaps you anti-immigrant folks should argue that undocumented immigrants are not people. And again, good luck with that one.
    Facts are on my side, it is the inability of you advocates to factually understand the information you are using. To point, Marisa claims the following in her article: As can be expected, critics of undocumented immigrants feel this ruling is a miscarriage of justice. After all, people who aren’t legally in the United States have no such Constitutional rights, or do they?
    It turns out they do and it’s to everyone’s best interest that judges continue to uphold the basic rights as outlined by the US Constitution — for everyone.
    Actually, it turns out they don’t, based on Plausible Distinction. If they can not be identified by appearance as being here illegally, they must then be assumed as Legal Residents or Citizens. Once they are determined to be here illegally by way of documentation and/or admission, they then become Illegal Aliens. It is only after this ID that they lose all Constitutional Liberties and then fall under the UN Charter of Human Rights.

  7. maryelizabeth said:

    When we talk about rounding up many of the “undocumented” and deporting these Immigrants with the violation of their “civil rights” it has become quite clear to me the political agenda and the game of the anti-immigrant wave and why the GOP likes to use Immigration Reform as a wedge issue. I asked myself again and again what were the most dominant reasons to keep Immigration where it is and give us more of the same. The first think that comes in mind is 1)”Cheap Undocumented Labor” and an underclass that lives in fear…”that is a controllable underclass that lives in a form of mental slavery” that ultimately gives the “criminal employers that hire them” a much larger bankroll and then there is #2) VOTES!!….Ah yes, These people they round up are future voters and most of them are Minoritys and a path to citizenship leads to the fear of more democratic votes. I often wonder which of the Agendas are higher on the list. Is it cheap labor? or is it VOTES! Doesn’t it make sense the slam the magnet? The employers?? Doesn’t it make sense to audit the employers for who they have hired and who they have employed to the point that they lose everything and live in fear if they hire someone “undocumented” in conjunction with a reasonable Immigration Reform bill. We are looking to solve the problem. As we look back in history at mistakes we have made as a country to reform Immigration we have overlooked the most important solution. Go after cronism. Get the magnet..”The employers”.

  8. Cameron said:

    “When we talk about rounding up many of the “undocumented” and deporting these Immigrants with the violation of their “civil rights” it has become quite clear to me the political agenda and the game of the anti-immigrant wave and why the GOP likes to use Immigration Reform as a wedge issue.”
    Considering that few are advocating a reduction of legal immigration, I can hardly see how there is an anti-immigrant wave. It’s just that many of us do not consider undocumented immigrants, immigrants. If we considered them immigrants that would make us complicit in an illegal act.

  9. maryelizabeth said:

    (Considering that few are advocating a reduction of legal immigration, I can hardly see how there is an anti-immigrant wave. It’s just that many of us do not consider undocumented immigrants, immigrants. If we considered them immigrants that would make us complicit in an illegal act.)
    Accurate and Credible polls show that 64% of Americans are for Comprehensive Immigration Reform and are not into seeing familys ripped apart nationwide. The vast majority of Americans are just not that mean spirited. They do not like laws to be broken but they also understand the family value system and realize the Agenda of an “Undocumented” working class was all about searching for a better life.
    When I say there is a Anti-Immigrant Wave I am talking about a small group of Anti-Immigrant/Undocumented retrictionists and that is:(15% to be precise) “Whatever you want to call the “undocumented” people to try to advocate segregation for the purpose of a political wedge issue and how you address them is not the point”. Your 15% is running scared on the right winged side of the GOP. When you advocate that their are many of you; you need to simply get yourself a reality checked.
    *The vast majority of the US population has already seen through the transparent “right winged agenda”. You might want to become innovative and find an issue that makes you a few friends.
    *The vast majority of the people in the US are not into the political games anymore. They want *Healthcare Reform…*A normal tax system that is based on the percentage of income and not a free tax gift to the top 1% of wealth *Immigration Reform (1 out of every 20 workers are undocumented in the US) and that is not acceptable to us Americans. They realize that the legal Immigration system is broken and are tired of hearing the same about the same broken solution being argued on a national level just because the GOP doesn’t want “minoritys” to become documented because they fear future VOTERS.

  10. cookie said:

    A more accurate statement would have been the Democrats want to legalize them because it will increase THEIR voters. Those of us who don’t want them legalized view things that way because rewarding law breakers is not the smart thing to do for many reasons that have all been discussed in here before. We tried that one before and it didn’t work. Our views have nothing to do with what the Republican party wants or doesn’t want even though some of us are Republicans we didn’t form our views because of what the party says. We used common sense on our own.

  11. maryelizabeth said:

    (Those of us who don’t want them legalized view things that way because rewarding law breakers is not the smart thing to do for many reasons that have all been discussed in here before.)
    But as I have pointed out to you numerous times…there just aren’t all that many of you out there that feel the way you do. To be precise there are only 15% of you. That is too small of a number and that points the finger to the fact the laws on Immigration needed to be changed many years ago. 64% of Americans want the Immigration Bill passed. Whether you like it or not they represent the country and your 15% is small. You need to except that. You can’t really justify it when you try to bash the vast majority of Americans and accuse them of being Un-American because they do not agree with your opinion on Immigration and how it should be reformed.
    (A more accurate statement would have been the Democrats want to legalize them because it will increase THEIR voters.)
    I guess the finger points both ways when it comes to that! This is why our politicians continue to use Immigration Reform as a wedge issue. The Democrats know that if they stall on the issue they will pick up the senate seats in the next election…and pass reform in the senate, register voters and hit a home run with votes. It wasn’t smart politics for “right wingers” like yourself to go strongly against the “undocumented” because their was a time where you did have a percentage of miniority vote but its too late to turn back now and the more you oppose reform the more friends you lose. Americans just do not agree with your ideas and the more you push with a “mean spirit” the more friends your side needs…and your side really needs friends desperately.
    (Our views have nothing to do with what the Republican party wants or doesn’t want even though some of us are Republicans we didn’t form our views because of what the party says. We used common sense on our own.)
    Your group is primarily Republican and your views seriously lack common sense. When fighting for an issue you believe in you must have common sense with the reality of your party and what it stands for otherwise your efforts are lost…and right now your efforts and ideas are way to one tracked for the vast majority of Americans to even meet you half way. Americans have strong family values for all people they do not want familys split, detained and do not want hard working people thrown out even if they did break the law. Americans value people more than these laws. That is just a FACT and you need to realize it.

  12. cookie said:

    Sorry, but you are wrong. The majority of Americans do not want the kind of CIR that you pro’s do. Two years ago it got shot down by and it will again.
    Actually the anti’s views are the ones that make common sense not the pro side. That would be many Americans from both parties not just the Republican party that agree on this issue. Keep parties out of this anyway. Americans are still individual thinkers on this issue.
    What you fail to realize is that yes Americans do have family values but they put more value on their own families first especially when these members of foreign families have broken our immigration laws and impacted us negatively. Those in our country were not acting in a humane way towards us when they violated our immigration laws and took American jobs and taxpayer benefits so why should we be humane to them and give them our country also?
    Americans do value our laws because they are in place to protect us and it is a fact that if you reward people for violating our laws it isn’t the way to teach good morals. Americans teach their kids to abide by the laws or suffer the consequences so what kind of an example is it for parents to not apply those same rules to outsiders?
    There will be no separation of families. They can all go back to the homeland of the parents. As for their U.S. born children, Mexico offers dual citizenship and they can come back here when they are of age if they so choose. What you also fail to realize is that it is those who cross our borders illegally that are responsible for what happens to them after that. They made the choice all by themselves knowing full well what the consequences could be and for the most part, not they weren’t starving either.

  13. Brian said:

    “But as I have pointed out to you numerous times…there just aren’t all that many of you out there that feel the way you do. To be precise there are only 15% of you. That is too small of a number and that points the finger to the fact the laws on Immigration needed to be changed many years ago.”
    Mary E, your assertion is not born out by the reaction of the politicians in power, as there is no strong motion toward amnesty at this point. If you are right, then we’d already have CIR, as the dems hold sway in congress and would not fear their constituencies. Repeat your unsubstantiated statement a million times if it gives you comfort, but it won’t change the anti-amnesty attitude that prevails outside of the bobbleheaded ethnicentrist groups.

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