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Home / Commentary / View from around the state: Due-process rights for all or for none

View from around the state: Due-process rights for all or for none

— From The Journal Times of Racine

President Donald Trump’s hard-line stance on immigration took an unconstitutional turn on Sunday.

“We cannot allow all of these people to invade our Country,” Trump wrote that day on Twitter. “When somebody comes in, we must immediately, with no Judges or Court Cases, bring them back from where they came.”

Such a policy would be an elimination of due process, which is guaranteed under the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution; and then the Sixth Amendment, which says: “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial.”

If you find yourself thinking “but illegal immigrants aren’t U.S. citizens,” know that the Supreme Court has ruled in a series of cases that if a person is within the United States, he or she has rights under the Constitution, including the right to due process; that a person deemed to be an illegal immigrant, accused of a violation of U.S. law, has rights under that same law. In its decision in Zadyvdas vs. Davis in 2001, the majority wrote that “once an alien enters the country, the legal circumstance changes, for the due process clause applies to all persons (not just citizens) within the United States.”

That may anger you, that a person crossing the border illegally has automatically obtained the right to due process. But if that’s how you feel, you’re missing the point.

Were those accused of illegal immigration to be denied due process, what’s to stop the government declaring that any of us are here illegally?

What’s that? You say you’re a citizen, and you have proof?

Too bad. The government says you’re not, and is denying you the opportunity to challenge its claim in court.

Good look in indefinite detention, or wherever the government is dumping you.

The Fifth Amendment guarantee of due process protects all of us, or none of us.

As we are inclined to do in this space from time to time: Imagine a president you didn’t vote for being given the power to end due process.

Yes, a nation can deny entry, as the Supreme Court ruled Tuesday on the president’s travel ban. But in this nation, if you’re here, you get due process.

Those who note that Central American migrants aren’t seeking asylum in Mexico, but instead are traveling through Mexico to seek it here in the United States, have a valid point. As do those who seek proof from everyone claiming a need for political asylum, and those who seek a more streamlined process, in line with the Sixth Amendment, for resolving the legal status of undocumented immigrants. It’s not wrong to want secure borders.

But it is wrong to suggest that those of suspected of being illegal immigrants should be denied due process.

Without due process, the government has all the power and the individual, citizen or otherwise, has none.

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