Immigrants And The Law

If you ever want to see what a melting pot Los Angeles is just go the the local poker casino and sit down at any table. You will instanteously be playing with people born in Mexico, Iran, the US, various European countries, various South American countries, and Armenians who I discovered were born all over. Usually a table is comprised of at least six people born in countries other than the United States.

I believe this is what makes America great. I believe diversity of background is what has made America great in the past. The very first Euro visitors here were immigrants seeking a better life. That's what this country is all about. But tough times, as we have now, always engender tough feelings toward immigrants. The history of every American century contains very poignant and pointed examples of anti-immigrant trends by the "natives". Today is no different.

Arizona has passed some very tough laws about "illegals". A recent LA Times article addressed the fact the US Supreme Court is going to consider reviving their hardhanded illegal alien law, which had been found to be unconstitutional.

A couple of thoughts: one, contrary to what many people think, immigrants who are here in the US illegally do have Constitutional rights. They are more limited but, nevertheless, they are entitled to Due Process of the law.

But these laws also effect citizens. People who are either here legally or are full fledged citizens should not have to suffer being stopped and asked to prove their status simply becaus they look a certain way or speak with an accent. One of the most fundamental concepts of American liberty is to be free from the burdensome entanglements of government so that citizens may enjoy their freedom unfettered by official intrusions. Can you imagine having to show your citizenship papers every week, every day, just to live in the US. That concept is something out of 1930's Germany, not the United States. The US authorities should have some reason other than just the way a person looks or speaks to form the basis for their stopping that person and inquiring.

But a lot of people have never heard of the US Supreme Court decision called Korematsu v. United States. This case is still on the books, it's still good law today. What is says is this: a United States citizen may be deprived of liberty and property (and maybe even life) without Due Process based solely on that citizen's race, religion or ethnicity.

If, for example, your family has lived in the US for 100 years but is Japanese then, in certain extrememe situations, that person can have all of their property seized by the government and be put in jail just because they are Japanese and the circumstances are just right. That's what happened after Pearl Harbor. It does not take too much imagination to come up with modern scenarious whereby US citizens could be subject to the same summary fate.

Again, this is the law of the land today. Scary, right? So when you think about laws effecting alien's rights understand those laws effect everyone, not just non-citizens. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere, including your justice, your rights. Our government was set up to ensure personal freedoms and being left alone by the government.

Remember this famous saying:

First they came for X and I said nothing because I was not X;

Then they came for Y and I said nothing because I was not Y;

Then they came for me and there was no one left to say anything for me.

Categories: Civil Law, Appeal
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