citizenship, law, privacy

Migration and Human Rights (19): The U.S. Wages War on Illegal Immigration, and Kills the Fourth Amendment

fourth amendment tombstone

(forgot where I got this from; sorry)

OK, maybe not kill, but it felt good writing it. In the U.S., about 100 seven-member Immigration and Customs Enforcement teams conduct regular raids across the country in search of illegal immigrants. Normally, they are supposed to look for fugitive illegal immigrants who have committed crimes, but it’s not unusual that they go about and round up undocumented workers who haven’t committed a crime. Illegal immigration isn’t a violation of criminal law; it’s a violation of civil law.

These teams make house calls before dawn. They have guns although they are supposed to “knock and talk” their way into a home. In reality, they often force their way in. And instead of search warrants issued by a judge, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents have administrative warrants issued by their superiors.

All this flies in the face of the Fourth Amendment which protects “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures” and demands that police have warrants issued by independent courts and based on “probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized” (see here). The Fourth Amendment applies to illegal immigrants as it does to U.S. citizens.

The Gates affair may have captured the public’s imagination, but it’s small beer (sorry for the pun) compared to what illegal immigrants – or those mistaken for one – have to put up with.

More on privacy, arbitrary arrest and illegal immigration.