Social Question

john65pennington's avatar

How can an illegal immigrant have Constitutional Rights in America, when they are not a U.S. citizen?

Asked by john65pennington (29235points) May 2nd, 2010

Until the day i retired, i never understood why our District Attorney sent a letter to each department, advising us that each illegal immigrant we arrested, for an unrelated crime, had to be advised of their Constitutional Rights. how can undocumented people have Constitutional Rights, if they are not citizens of the United States? did someone forget they are here illegally? if i visit Mexico, i have to have documentation for their country, so why is this only working one way? is the state of Arizona on the right track? if suspected illegal immigrants are not documented, then they are violating the law. how do the police know and how can they tell, if they don’t ask??? (maybe this is what the feds had in mind all along. to keep it undercover).

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29 Answers

JLeslie's avatar

Yeah, that makes no sense. They are not convered by our consitution, but of course would be covered under basic human rights.

What do you mean by the feds keeping it undercover? What undercover?

DeanV's avatar

Because the constitution is the basis of our laws, to fully prosecute or detain someone under the law, they have to give those persons the rights under the constitution, otherwise the detainment is unlawful.

And I see no undercover.

JLeslie's avatar

But, I wanted to add that I don’t want the local police asking, because I don’t want people illegal or legal afraid of going to the police if they need help, or see someone else needs help.

bobloblaw's avatar

There has been a long line of cases distinguishing what Constitutional rights apply to citizens, foreign visitors and undocumented workers and what rights only apply to US citizens. The reason why some rights apply to non-citizens is pretty basic. The philosophical foundation of our Constitution was based on principles of natural rights. That is to say, the Founding Fathers never thought that our basic rights were given to us by some document or king or government, but are derived from “natural” law (where this natural law comes from is another matter altogether).

Thus, regardless of you nationality and location, certain rights are applicable everywhere you travel. The difficulty for our judiciary is figuring out which is which.

john65pennington's avatar

To be honest with everyone, the local and state police are in a complex situation when it comes to illegal immigrants. they have no real support from INS, concerning illegal immigrants. INS agents will not respond, unless 10 or more illegals are under arrest. then, it takes about two hours for an officer to book an illegal immigrant. that takes away the protection for you and your family for that length of time. multiply this by 4 or 5 in an 8 hours shift and where does this leave a citys protection? INS should be doing their part, but they are not. why not is the question i have asked for the last three years.

Some people on Fluther, believe i dwell on illegal immigrants too much. this may be true, but i see a side of this situation that the majority of Americans have never seen.

DeanV's avatar

@john65pennington But what is this “undercover” you speak of?

john65pennington's avatar

I believe the Feds have intentionally not enforced the Immigration Laws because of the big factories built in Mexico by American companies. i believe the factories are the President of Mexicos leverage to allow illegals into America and the Feds just look the other way. i am not the only person with this theory. there is an interesting article in The Tennessean Newspaper, dated 4–30-2010, page 15 A, by writer George Will. you might find this interesting to read. john

KatawaGrey's avatar

I’m just curious as to why you think they should be denied constitutional rights. True, they aren’t American citizens but does this mean they shouldn’t have free speech or speedy trials? I was under the impression that many constitutional rights were basic rights. Isn’t it because of these rights that we grant people in our borders that makes us different than other countries? If we put a little clause saying that “these rights only really apply to Americans and everyone else beware,” doesn’t that defeat the purpose of the constitution and that little phrase in there “all men are created equal”?

Pretty_Lilly's avatar

@john65pennington I enjoy having interactions with you but I must say: You really have a hard-on for illegal immigrants don’t Ya !

You do know that Caucasians did not originate on this continent !
As a matter of fact the “Brown” people you dislike so much,,, did,,,,Yup !!! from the tip on North America to the tip of South America !

Something most Americans need to remember: the only true Americans are the Native Americas ! The rest of us Caucasians at one time or another,our ancestors migrated here from a different country ! “AND MANY OF THEM CAME HERE ILLEGALLY AND ASKED FOR ASYLUM ONCE STATE SIDE !

For the better part of the 19th & 20th century, there were millions of immigrants flooding Ellis Island that did not have documents !

As a matter of fact the racial slur for Italians “WOP” comes from the fact that most Italians came to this country “UNDOCUMENTED”
At Ellis Island and other detention centers,,they would give them shirts with the letters W.O.P = With Out Papers
but I guess it is OK when White People do it !

PS :“Bet you a dollar for Doughnuts” that you have at least one ancestor who came here illegally !!!!

RedPowerLady's avatar

Something most Americans need to remember: the only true Americans are the Native Americas
Here, here!

Check This Out

JLeslie's avatar

@Pretty_Lilly I am kind of tired of people making this racial. I don’t think people in Arizona would be any happier if the crimes (and I mean violent crimes, not just running across the border) were being done by blond-haired blue-eyed people. Believe me when the Russian Mafia were doing all sorts of credit card fraud in our stores when I worked in FL, we still came after them even though they were caucasian. Worse to think if they were running drugs, shooting people, gang activity in the schools. They probably had papers, but even new immigrants it is annoying to have to put up with crime, let alone illegal immigrants. If they come to America for a better life, hard working, I say give them papers. If they come here to bring corruption send them the hell back.

Some of the same people who are in favor of the Arizona law (which I have said I think should not be handled by local authorities in my opinion) vote for Hispanics in elections, or are Hispanic themselves. My exboyfriend’s cousin just the other day voiced her frustration that her family came here legally, and supports the Airzona law. Her family is from Ecuador. My husband, Mexican, is not in favor of the law. People are all over the map. (the xcousin in-law “looks” stereotypical Hispanic, my husband does not by the way, and he does not have a Hispanic last name). My mother wants to deport everyone, she is not a racist at all, not for a second, her grandparents came here as immigrants and my fathers parents came as immigrants. My family firmly believes in the greatness of our melting pot of a country. My mom is just sick of all of the crime that seems to be coming from the Hispanic community where she lives outside of DC, many of who are illegal aliens.

Although, I do agree that many many people come here illegally, and eventually become part of the fabric of our country, it has happened throughout our history.

@john65pennington I do agree the problem seems to be ignored on purpose federally. There is something amiss with big business, government, politics, not sure how it all works together. I really wish they would give legal status to those who want to work hard and be a part of the American way and just tighten up the borders. The way it is I think many Hispanics are treated like slave labor, which is awful, they many times work under the table, or are illegal above table, and never see back money they do pay in taxes. It all seems to lack integrity to me, it’s like an underground system of sorts.

john65pennington's avatar

Pretty Lilly, the Nomads were the very first people on the American continent. they came with the glaciers. thanks for your answer and i agree that the Feds either make the illegals legal or enforce the immigration laws. i also realize that no one in America wants to do manual labor. maybe, this is because more Americans are receiving degrees and think manual labor is below their standard. whatever the reason, this is where the illegals have landed, for the most part. some of my best friends are hispanic and have cooked my dinner many, many times. the difference? they are legal citizens of the United States. and, what about students who came to America for college? when their money ran out, they did not go back to the other side of the border. no, they stayed in America illegally. no one has ever addressed this problem. just be legal.

DeanV's avatar

@john65pennington Might want to clarify which American continent. It’s very different between South and North America.

RedPowerLady's avatar

@john65pennington If you mean Greek nomads then I beg to differ. However that is a discussion for another time and place.

john65pennington's avatar

North American continent.

RedPowerLady's avatar

@JLeslie It is a race issue however tiresome. what happened to us having fun lively discussions, lately we seem to be disagreeing on everything, haha

john65pennington's avatar

This is not a racial issue at all. its strictly about law violators and the government not doing its job of enforcement. we would not be having this conversation today, if the Federal Government had been enforcing the Immigration Laws, starting about 5 years ago.

RedPowerLady's avatar

@john65pennington Yes because the government quite frequently racially profiles people with blond hair and blue eyes. Even though in some states Nazi’s commit heinous crimes and the majority of serial killers in the U.S. are Caucasian so those are just two examples of why it would be “necessary”.

DeanV's avatar

@john65pennington So tell me, what’s your idea of an effective immigration law to help the government do its job? I do agree with you that what’s there right now isn’t all the effective, I’m just curious. Or is what Arizona is doing right?

arpinum's avatar

I really enjoy watching conservatives claim that our constitutional rights come from god, and the constitution simply recognizes these unalienable rights. Then they say immigrants and terrorists don’t have constitutional right cause they aren’t Americans.
The reasonable conclusion: Conservatives believe only Americans were created equal, and god only cares about them.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

There are many rights to which people should be considered entitled in any country governed by the rule of law. Human rights don’t apply more to Americans than they do to citizens of other countries.

The right to reside in or work in a country is determined by laws of citizenship and immigration. In the case of someone living or working in a country without having conformed to the laws concerning immigration, these people must still have their human rights respected even if the law requires that after due process has determined that they do not have the right to continue to reside or work in the country, that they be returned to their country of origin.

The US Constitution and Bill of Rights, makes it clear that many rights are accorded to all because they are human, not because they possess US Citizenship.

Americans who can’t respect those principles are unworthy of that title.

JLeslie's avatar

Well, I kind of disagee a little with @john65pennington about people who overstay their education visa’s or come truly to work hard and find opportunity. I think there should be an easier path to get papers, so I am more forgiving of these people. There are still quotas for each country, how many people can legally immigrate each year, and Mexico’s quota fills up fast. I wonder if quotas are even being met for other countries? If not they should allow Mexicans, and other people from Central and South America to use those spaces. I don’t know enough about how that works though, it would be interesting if someone did have some more knowledge on the subject.

@RedPowerLady You really think if all of the immigrants running across the border were blond haired blue eyed people that everyone would be just fine with them coming? When the Irish came people were not happy, when the Polish came people were frustrated that they did not speak English, it happens to most new immigrant groups in some way or another. People get unnerved when they feel displaced by a new group. I don’t have that personally, I don’t mind a new group, I enjoy diversity, but I do mind organized criminal activity.

That is another reason I am not in favor of the new law in Arizona. I think the local authorities should focus on crime, that is all I am really frustrated with, and some of fthe people caught will be illegal, some legal. I say once they go to trial if they are not citizens send them back or jail them, but never give them citizenship, and when they are out of jail send them back.

I think it is more a matter of the immigrants from Latin America happen to have darker skin many times, but of course not always. Generally, the poorer people in Latin America are from Indian/Native American/Indigenous (not sure what word is most acceptable, basically we are speaking of the Mayans, Incas, Aztec etc.) decent, or have a high percentage of these bloodlines, and they are more likely to be looking for an opportunity like America, because of their economic situation. There are poor caucasians in Mexico and wealthy Native Americans, but statistically there is some economic desparity between the groups. I think it might be true that a “White” HIspanic without papers might slip through the cracks (I think that is more likely than darker skinned people being arrested when they actually are legal) but not if they are in the wrong place at the wrong time. The Authorities know where bad stuff is going down I would guess, just like a drug addict knows where to go for a hit.

@all The real problem is Mexico has economic and crime problems, which if they were ore under control, people would not be flooding into our country. There are Mexicans who live just over the border, who have family on this side of the border, and for many many years have moved from one side to the other without concern for paperwork. I don’t think these are bad people, I have a hard time thinking of them as criminals. Now take my husband, who grew up in Mexico City, he has stories of waiting on line at the American Embassy to get a Visa to visit the states. He speaks of people paying people to stand in line all day, probably the night before, to hold their place. Its not like all of Mexico just thinks of the border as a joke. It’s just that down by the border life is very different than hundreds of miles away on both sides of the border from what I have been told.

RedPowerLady's avatar

@JLeslie You are right, they weren’t happy when those people came but they got over it much quicker than those with darker complexions. However I think you are right on about people feeling frustrated about being displaced. Perhaps when it is someone of a similar skin complexion, rather a similar cultural background, they get over it quicker because there is more similarity and less feeling of displacement in the long run. Of course I know the Irish went through some horrible crap in the beginning and I don’t discount that. All I am saying is now Irish are seen as part of the majority while those from Mexico and Iran and South America are still seen as criminals. Right now that probably has a lot to do with the media.

I also fail to see where these ideas that that immigrants are the ones behind the criminal behaviors. If we weren’t supporting the criminal behaviors, if we weren’t buying the drugs, then there wouldn’t be a need for it. I don’t understand why we “blame the Mexican” when we are just as at fault. Not only that but we have organized crime committed by all sorts of White ethnic groups and a lot are even home-spun. We aren’t trying to kick out the Russians, the Italians, the American Grown Nazis.

I also agree with your last point to some extent. I think we could help this problem out by putting pressure on Mexico to change what is causing people to want to live here instead of there. Then we are creating change on a positive level for all involved.

Sorry if that is a bit all over the place, i’m kinda distracted right now.

JLeslie's avatar

@RedPowerLady I really think we agree overall :). Crime is crime no matter what group. The media does contribute to negative perceptions I think. The thing about the Hispanics is they have been coming for years and years and in very large numbers, so there is a constant influx of a new generation who does not speak English, and their communities are getting very large.

When the Italians, Irish, Polish, came over there was a more finite time span, and then they had “American” children and the next generation assimilated, AND their parents reinforced assimilation, unfortunately to the extent that the next generation did not learn the language of the old country. Moreover, Italian neighborhoods were a few blocks long for instance, but Hispanic areas can be almost entire cities. If we think of NY, little Italy, Chinatown, etc., if the Italian guy wanted to be able to talk to the Chinese guy they had English in common. Even now the Dominican guy can speak to the Lebonese and Indian guy because they all speak English. I assume in some parts of Arizona, much like Miami, they can speak Spanish all day long, barely needing to know English. But, still, I maintain and defend that the new generation always learns English, I just think it doesn’t feel that way to people because of the constant influx of new immigrants.

My guess is a very small percentage of Mexicans actually engage in criminal activity, papers or not. What I don’t know is, of the crimes being committed, what percentage is probably being committed by illegal aliens that Arizona thinks this law will help.

Lasty, I completely agree that it is the Americans taking the drugs that is the biggest problem when it comes to the drug rings. Get rid of the demand and the supply should dissappear.

RedPowerLady's avatar

What I don’t know is, of the crimes being committed, what percentage is probably being committed by illegal aliens that Arizona thinks this law will help.

Great question!

The thing about the Hispanics is they have been coming for years and years and in very large numbers, so there is a constant influx of a new generation who does not speak English, and their communities are getting very large

I can certainly see the distinction you are making here. I think part of this problem is that we drew arbitrary borders in the first place. But anyhow that is a discussion for a different time. Of course we’ve discussed this before but I don’t think immigrants should have to assimilate but I do see your point in how not assimilating causing people to feel threatened. I feel this is a false threat and that we should be educating people on how this is beneficial to our society. Once we stop fighting it and embrace the culture people are more likely to want to embrace us back.

JLeslie's avatar

@RedPowerLady I think the language is most important. Being able to have all the opportunities of the country is dependent on a common language. But, I really tend to think the language thing is a non issue as I mentioned above. Other cultural differences can be worked around for the most part and certainly in our communities and homes we can practice our own rituals, religions, and traditions. I think there is a balance with assimilation, the new immigrant might adopt some cultural things from the new country, and they also bring to the new country some of their own traditions that we can incorporate into the fabric of the country. I see it as a win/win overall. The more the merrier. But, many immigrants also experience some loss of their culture, and it can be difficult, especially for the parents who watch their children adopt different values and practices.

laureth's avatar

Here’s an interesting small article about what happened when a similar law to Arizona’s was enacted (and repealed) in Virginia, and what it did to the crime rate.

CaptainHarley's avatar

[ quoted verbatim ]


I spent five years working in Mexico .
I worked under a tourist visa for three months and could legally renew it for three more months. After that you were working illegally. I was technically illegal for three weeks waiting on the FM3 approval.
During that six months our Mexican and US Attorneys were working to secure a permanent work visa called a FM3. It was in addition to my US passport that I had to show each time I entered and left the country. Barbara’s was the same except hers did not permit her to work.
To apply for the FM3 I needed to submit the following notarized originals (not copies) of my:
1. Birth certificates for Barbara and me.

2. Marriage certificate.

3. High school transcripts and proof of graduation.

4. College transcripts for every college I attended and proof of graduation.

5. Two letters of recommendation from supervisors I had worked for at least one year.

6. A letter from The ST. Louis Chief of Police indicating I had no arrest record in the US and no outstanding warrants and was “a citizen in good standing.”

7. Finally; I had to write a letter about myself that clearly stated why there was no Mexican citizen with my skills and why my skills were important to Mexico . We called it our “I am the greatest person on earth” letter. It was fun to write.
All of the above were in English that had to be translated into Spanish and be certified as legal translations and our signatures notarized. It produced a folder about 1.5 inches thick with English on the left side and Spanish on the right.
Once they were completed Barbara and I spent about five hours accompanied by a Mexican attorney touring Mexican government office locations and being photographed and fingerprinted at least three times. At each location (and we remember at least four locations) we were instructed on Mexican tax, labor, housing, and criminal law and that we were required to obey their laws or face the consequences.
We could not protest any of the government’s actions or we would be committing a felony.
We paid out four thousand dollars in fees and gratuities to complete the process. When this was done we could legally bring in our household goods that were held by US customs in Loredo Texas . This meant we rented furniture in Mexico while awaiting our goods. There were extensive fees involved here that the company paid.
We could not buy a home and were required to rent at very high rates and under contract and compliance with Mexican law.
We were required to get a Mexican drivers license. This was an amazing process. The company arranged for the licensing agency to come to our headquarters location with their photography and finger print equipment and the laminating machine. We showed our US license, were photographed and fingerprinted again and issued the license instantly after paying out a six dollar fee. We did not take a written or driving test and never received instructions on the rules of the road. Our only instruction was never give a policeman your license if stopped and asked. We were instructed to hold it against the inside window away from his grasp. If he got his hands on it you would have to pay ransom to get it back.
We then had to pay and file Mexican income tax annually using the number of our FM3 as our ID number. The company’s Mexican accountants did this for us and we just signed what they prepared. It was about twenty legal size pages annually.
The FM 3 was good for three years and renewable for two more after paying more fees.
Leaving the country meant turning in the FM 3 and certifying we were leaving no debts behind and no outstanding legal affairs (warrants, tickets or liens) before our household goods were released to customs.
It was a real adventure and If any of our senators or congressmen went through it once they would have a different attitude toward Mexico .
The Mexican Government uses its vast military and police forces to keep its citizens intimidated and compliant.
They never protest at their White House or government offices but do protest daily in front of the United States Embassy. The US embassy looks like a strongly reinforced fortress and during most protests the Mexican Military surround the block with their men standing shoulder to shoulder in full riot gear to protect the Embassy. These protests are never shown on US or Mexican TV. There is a large public park across the street where they do their protesting. Anything can cause a protest such as proposed law changes in California or Texas .
Please feel free to share this with everyone who thinks we are being hard on illegal immigrants.
Tom O’Malley

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