James Madison--the fourth president of the United States and principal
author of the U.S. Constitution--once wrote, “...that as they [aliens],
owe, on the one hand, a temporary obedience, they are entitled, in return,
to their [constitutional] protection and advantage.” So do not let
the fact that the term “illegal” or “undocumented immigrants”
lead you to believe the Constitution’s rights and freedoms do not
apply to them.
Rights that Protect Illegal Aliens
According to Section One of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, “No
state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges
or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive
any person of life, liberty or property, without due process of law; nor
deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the
laws.” In the U.S. Supreme Court case called Zadvydas v. Davis (2001),
that “due process” applies to all aliens in the U.S. whose
presence maybe or is “unlawful, involuntary or transitory.”
Decades before that case, the court ruled in Almeida-Sanchez v. United
States (1973) that all criminal charge-related elements of the Constitution's
amendments, such as the First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and the 14th) protect
non-citizens, legally or illegally present.
The First Amendment prevents the government from censoring non-citizens
speech or suppressing the practice of their religion. The Fourth Amendment
protects them against unreasonable search and seizure. The Fifth Amendment
ensures that non-citizens property can only be taken by the government
for a public, along with compensation. The Sixth Amendment includes the
right to a jury trial, the right to counsel, and protection against self-incrimination.
While undocumented immigrants have several constitutional protections,
there are three exceptions: voting, some government jobs, and gun ownership.
For more information,
Santa Barbara immigration attorney at
Appel & Morse today.