Open Arms or Closed Doors: A Critical Review of the United States' Approach to Immigrant Rights
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThis paper explores the validity of three predominant legal reasons for precluding immigrants from holding legal rights in the U.S. The primary hypothesis examined through both a literature review and empirical research is that the wording within the Constitution does not afford legal rights to all persons within the United States. Another legal reason that has emerged in discussions of immigrant rights is that the framers did not intend immigrants to share the same rights as citizens. Examination of this hypothesis requires a discussion of original intent as a lens through which lawmakers interpret the language within the Constitution. Perhaps among the most contentious arguments for denying immigrants rights is the argument that state government has a fiscal responsibility to its citizens and, thusly, the power to regulate immigration. At the center of this contention is whether the authority over immigration policy rests with state or federal government. To evaluate these hypotheses, a case study approach combined with historical analysis of United States Supreme Court precedent and language in the U.S. Constitution is used. The conclusion drawn is that both the courts and legislative bodies should reassess the constitutionality of laws and judicial decisions that withhold legal personhood from immigrants.
Degree ProgramHonors College