I thought I’d address some of the comments on the previous posting about the Hazleton a case.
One person asked about the ACLU’s stance on illegal immigrants. The ACLU does not support illegal activity. That said, ALL people in this country–no matter what their status–have certain Constitutional and human rights. In fact, decisions spanning more than a century, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the Constitution’s guarantees apply to every person within U.S. borders, including “aliens whose presence in this country is unlawful.”
It’s worth noting that the Bill of Rights NEVER uses the word citizen–it uses the word “person.” This wasn’t an accident. (The word “citizen” is used in other parts of the Constitution.)
Of course, the federal government can find, arrest, and deport people who are here in violation of the federal immigration laws, provided they do so in a way that comports with the Constitution — for example the Fourth Amendment’s prohibitions on searches and seizures and the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee of due process — and other federal laws. Similarly, the federal government can make, and has made, many lawful immigrants, as well as undocumented people, ineligible for certain welfare programs. However, there are legal and policy limits even in this area; we provide elementary education, emergency medical care, and other services to all persons regardless of status.
As for those who say people should learn English when they come to this country, they might want to do some research on a little island called Puerto Rico. Puerto Ricans have been US citizens since 1917, and they just happen to speak Spanish.
(Thanks to Omar Jadwat at the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project and our staff attorney Mary Catherine Roper for help on this!)
Sara in Philly