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Should Illegal Immigrants Have Constitutional Rights?

The fact that the term “illegal immigrants” does not appear in the document leads us to believe that the U.S. Constitution’s rights and freedoms do not apply to them. Most often described as a “living document,” the Constitution has repeatedly been interpreted by the U.S. Supreme Court, federal appeals courts and Congress in order to address the ever-changing needs and demands of the people. In my opinion “We the People of the United States,” refers only to legal citizens, however, the Supreme Court has consistently disagreed.

PLYLER V. DOE (1982)

In Plyler v. Doe, the Supreme Court struck down a Texas law prohibiting enrollment of illegal aliens in public school. In its decision, the Court held, “The illegal aliens who are plaintiffs in these Seal_of_the_United_States_Supreme_Court.svgcases challenging the statute may claim the benefit of the Equal Protection Clause, which provides that no State shall ‘deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.’ Whatever his status under the immigration laws, an alien is a ‘person’ in any ordinary sense of that term… The undocumented status of these children does not establish a sufficient rational basis for denying them benefits that the State affords other residents.”

Equal Protection Amendment


When the Supreme Court decides cases dealing with illegal immigrants, it typically draws guidance from the 14th Amendment’s principal of “equal protection under the law.” In essence, the “equal protection” clause extends constitutional rights to anyone and everyone covered by the 5th and 14th Amendments. Through courts consistent rulings they find that the 5th and 14th Amendments apply equally to illegal aliens and citizens alike.

In rejecting the argument that the “equal” protections of the 14th Amendment are only to apply to U.S. citizens, the Supreme Court has referred to the language used by the Congressional Committee that drafted the amendment.
“The last two clauses of the first section of the amendment disable a State from depriving not merely a citizen of the United States, but any person, whoever he may be, of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, or from denying to him the equal protection of the laws of the State. This abolishes all class legislation in the States and does away with the injustice of subjecting one caste of persons to a code not applicable to another. . . . It [the 14th Amendment] will, if adopted by the States, forever disable every one of them from passing laws trenching upon those fundamental rights and privileges which pertain to citizens of the United States, and to all persons who may happen to be within their jurisdiction.”

My concern is with the current rulings of the courts if the illegal immigrants want to push the limits can they also exercise the rights to vote or possess firearms. In my final analysis, the courts have ruled that, while they are within the borders of the United States, undocumented workers are granted the same fundamental, undeniable constitutional rights granted to all Americans. I believe we need to be careful as this could be a means for certain individuals with the political power to enable them to vote in upcoming elections.

Please let us know your thoughts on this below.

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