October 13, 2007


No Need for a Warrant, You’re an Immigrant (JULIA PRESTON, 10/14/07, NY Times)

This parallel course for noncitizens is not new. But it has come into fuller view as the enforcement drive has swept up record numbers of illegal immigrants, also reaching legal immigrants and citizens. In answer, a barrage of lawsuits is challenging both the laws and their enforcers.

“Buried within the proud history of our nation of immigrants, shrouded but always present, there exists a distinct system,” wrote Daniel Kanstroom, a law professor at Boston College, in his book “Deportation Nation: Outsiders in American History,” which traces the history of the immigration code. To begin with, he writes, the Constitution does not specifically address the government’s power to control immigration. This is “not a small problem for a nation of immigrants,” he notes.

Immigration law remains founded on the notion that immigrants are not full members of American society until they become citizens, writes Professor Kanstroom, who is also a practicing immigration lawyer. The reduced protections in modern-day law were shaped by some of the darker episodes of the 20th century, he writes, including the prosecution of immigrant dissidents, like the Australian union leader Harry Bridges, in the 1930s; and the mass roundups of Mexican workers in the 1950s.

Arising from that landscape, the courts that handle immigration cases are part of the Justice Department, not the judiciary. Even immigrants who have lived here legally for many years, lawyers said, can run afoul of the immigration laws with minor infractions or misdemeanors. A late filing of visa renewal papers or a shoplifting citation can quickly spiral into an order for the ultimate penalty: deportation. Immigrants who fight the orders have more limited bail rights than American criminals and can spend years behind bars while their cases inch through the overburdened court system.

...but the editors think that foreign al Qaedists are covered by the Constitution?

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 13, 2007 9:40 PM

This should not be so hard for laymen to grasp as it now appears to be. Contrary to the duplicitious implication of the Preston article, the criminal procedural rights of immigrants re identical to those of the Mayflower set.

Really, the article yearns for a good, old-fashioned "fisking", one of those "Every word is a lie, including "and," and "the," affairs. One example should suffice. The article implies that the Constitution does not ". . .specificallly (emphasis added) address the government's power to control immigration."

Well, perhaps not too specifically, but specifically enough. Article 1, Section 8,, Clause 4, enumerates the power to enact uniform rules for naturalization. A high-school student could have told the author that controlling immigration is necessary and proper to regulating naturalization.

Posted by: Lou Gots at October 15, 2007 4:39 PM