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.
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.
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.”