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Should non-citizens have the same rights under the law as citizens?
September 9, 2002 5:56 PM   Subscribe

Should non-citizens have the same rights under the law as citizens? What about those who have naturalized? A poll given by NPR, The Kaiser Family Foundation, and Harvardâ??s Kennedy School of Government finds that a majority of those taking the poll think that, if accused of terrorism, a non-citizen should have fewer rights than a citizen. You can take the poll yourself here.
posted by emmling (45 comments total)

 
I believe if an immigrant has the dedication, committment, and heart to become a citizen, then they should have the same rights as all other Americans. Should they be allowed to run for President, though? Not sure. On the other hand, if an immigrant is in the country legally and is willing to follow our laws, I believe they should have the right to work, have a home, and raise a family. They should be entitled to the same 1st ammendment rights as everyone else in the country - that is, afterall, the reason we have so many people coming here, is it not? The should not be allowed to vote, hold office, have government jobs, or draw any type of government aide if they have not worked and paid in for at least 1 year, maybe longer. Same goes for citizens. No one should be able to get anything out of this country unless they put something in. Keep it balanced. Illegal immigrants? Kick 'em out. Simple as that. Deny them the possibility of ever gaining citizenship/residency if they decide to do things the wrong way from the get-go.
posted by JessicaRose at 6:16 PM on September 9, 2002


"WE hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness."

Nothing was said about citizenship by Mr. Jefferson or the Continental Congress. Indeed they could not have said such a thing, because they were themselves not yet citizens of the Republic they proposed to create.

The yuppie from Chicago, the wetback from Juarez, the towelhead from Riyadh and the busboy from Beijing are all created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights. When we presume to abridge those basic rights, we offend the aforesaid Creator.
posted by anser at 6:23 PM on September 9, 2002


Asner, you are truly a Jules. Er, jewel.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 6:31 PM on September 9, 2002


Actually, the wording of the poll seems to have been (my bolds):

"If an Arab or Muslim who is not a U.S. citizen is arrested as a suspected terrorist in this country/If an Arab or Muslim immigrant to the U.S. who has become a U.S. citizen is arrested as a suspected terrorist in this country,/ should that person be given the same legal rights as someone born in the U.S., or should he have fewer legal rights than someone born in the U.S.?

Minor but important distinction.
posted by vacapinta at 6:35 PM on September 9, 2002


you would think that someone with a handle like XQUZYPHYR would know anser from Asner ;)
posted by anser at 6:45 PM on September 9, 2002


JessicaRose - Well, you'll be pleased to know that permanent residents (the stage before citizenship) have to sign a declaration with a US citizen who is thereafter responsible for any government aid. If the govt. gives money to the resident, they take it out of the US citizen's bank account for forty working quarters. In other words, anybody applying to be a resident in the US won't be a burden on Uncle Sam for at least a decade. Of course, they'll have to pay social security during that period just like everyone else.

Becoming a citizen involves some testing on the functioning and history of the US political process, and a test on English comprehension. Unfortunately, you can only become a citizen after living in the US for five years - and then only after going on the waiting list for an application, which can last a considerable amount of time.

I'd suggest that native-born Americans should comply with the same rules before they can become citizens, but I'd be worried that enthusiastic Republican might actually take me up on it.
posted by ntk at 6:52 PM on September 9, 2002


As JessicaRose said it: "No taxation without representation". Going even further, using the French revolution's definition of Liberty, "Liberty consists in the freedom to do everything which injures no one else", I claim that, if a group's actions have an influence on myself, I should be able to participate in that decision making process (at least have some sort of representation). Examples: steel tariffs and EU Water Directive. If we look back in time, we can see the average representation increasing from almost zero (slave) to town councils, congress and even influencing the policy of other countries through (elected) officials. Would globalization mean that some day I would have to vote for China's Prime Minister, an EPA policy and approve the budget of one of EU's boards?
posted by MzB at 7:14 PM on September 9, 2002


It seems like there are far too many grey areas here for someone to make a cut and dry regulation. Where would the line be drawn? There are too many variations of people living in the US who are not citizens. People married to US citizens who don't have citizenship themselves, people here temporarily on student visas, people here on work visas, people whose spouses are here on visa and are allowed residence as a result, people here who plan to become citizens, illegal immigrants, people who have been given political asylum, diplomats, exchange students...

I'm sure there are even more classifications (for lack of a better word) of non-citizens who live in the US, that was just what I could think of off the top of my head. I don't see how one blanket law about the rights of citizens that they aren't entitled to could cover every one of those situations fairly.

Even beyond that, what sort of conflicts would this cause with preexisting laws concerning things like diplomatic immunity, or the rights of illegal immigrants?
posted by Kellydamnit at 7:14 PM on September 9, 2002


If you are a permanent resident (non citizen) and you have to abide by the same laws as everyone else and pay taxes like everyone else (but without any representation) then you most certainly deserve the same rights as every other person here. That these questions even come up is a sad reflection on the times.
posted by zeoslap at 7:41 PM on September 9, 2002


ntk: Unfortunately, you can only become a citizen after living in the US for five years...

Why is this unfortunate? Except in the literal sense of being unlucky for the person involved?
posted by Slithy_Tove at 7:53 PM on September 9, 2002


Well, that was mainly the sense in which I meant it.

I also think it's unfortunate for those who would seek to determine rights in terms of citizenship. The five years minimum waiting list means that there will always be a group of people who legally have the right to live in the US who would be denied their other rights simply because they are awaiting enfranchisement.

I think most of these discussions confuse "being a non-citizen" with "being an illegal resident". As Kellydamnit says, there's a vast grey area between them of tax-paying, social-security funding, uncommonly well-behaved (because they'd get thrown out if they weren't) legal residents who could easily find themselves losing out if citizenship was the boundary of human rights in the US. (Yeah, I'm one of them: or hope to be, once I've jumped all the right hurdles).

I also think that illegal residents have some rights too, but that's another discussion.
posted by ntk at 8:41 PM on September 9, 2002


If a person is here legally, they should have the same rights and responsibilities in terms of be held responsible for following our laws. If the person is here illegally (expired tourist visa or sneaking in over the border), they should be sent packing.

As has been said earlier in the thread, there are many ways to come here permanently or for extended periods legally. Use one or stay out.
posted by billsaysthis at 8:42 PM on September 9, 2002


ntk: I am quite surprised by some of your statements, because they are so greatly at variance with my own experience. As an occasional reader of your newsletter for some time, I am inclined to respect your probity and sense, but am taken aback at some of what you report.

First, there is no way in which the government can elect not to give money (or other value) to anyone living in this country. A huge amount of what is spent by the government goes to services which benefit whoever happens to need them. Think defense, FDA, courts, whatever.

Second, as a greencard-holding expat Brit, I can assure you that there has never been any question of my finding a "sponsor" to underwrite any need I might have had for government services. Even in the one instance where I was turned down for aid (hospital bills when I was indigent), there was never a suggestion that this sponsorship might exist. Is it really a requirement now? Is it applied universally, or just in the case of non-H1B visas, or what?

The difference between your experience and mine may lie in the date of our immigration. I came to this country on the Queen Mary, in 1961.
posted by Nicolae Carpathia at 11:47 PM on September 9, 2002


Nicolae Carpathia: "...there was never a suggestion that this sponsorship might exist. Is it really a requirement now? Is it applied universally, or just in the case of non-H1B visas, or what?"

As another ex-pat Brit waiting for a green-card I can back up ntk (nice pseudonym Mr O'Brien!) on this. My application is based on my wife and kids being US citizens and we had to provide the sponsorship information. The whole thing nearly derailed our house purchase and almost caused me to have to commute to the UK for work - not impossible given my job, but a considerable pain nonetheless when I was trying to fit into a pre-existing family.

(BTW. the kids are from my wifes previous marriage - I adopted them - the adoption was easier than getting US reisdency - go figure ...)
posted by thatwhichfalls at 12:50 AM on September 10, 2002


It seems like there are far too many grey areas here for someone to make a cut and dry regulation.

I don't see it that way. If you're on American soil, criminal law should apply to in exactly the same way as it does for everyone else, regardless of your status as immigrant, resident or citizen. The courts have generally upheld this position. While there is in the American system plenty of variation of enforcement and leniency on a case-by-case basis, that is, on an individual-by-individual basis, the only precedents we have for treating entire groups by a different standard are those shameful episodes in which we detained Japanese-Americans during World War II (including native-born fully qualified citizens) and the original refusal to admit Jews who were fleeing the turmoil of Europe during World War II. (That many were eventually admitted to this country does not make up for the original barriers that were raised for Jews alone).
posted by Mo Nickels at 2:50 AM on September 10, 2002


As an American resident of a foreign country myself, I am required to carry an alien registration identification card (with mandatory fingerprints) at all times. Korean nationals must also carry a national I.D at all times. I have no qualms about alien registration, because I am a guest, and as a guest, have a responsibility to respect the rules of my host. Koreans seem to have no opinion one way or the other on the national I.D.

Should the United States adopt a similar policy, I don't necessarily think it would be a bad thing. I know that some Americans see a national I.D. as an egregious affront to their liberties, and to some extent I agree. It would also be tremendously expensive, and would require the creation of additional bloated beaurocracies.

Green card holders (legal resident aliens in the U.S.) have identification cards, but I have to admit that the enforcement of immigration visas toward foreign nationals in the United States has been, in my experience, laughably lax.

I once worked in a small company with about 100 people. There were several American citizens in management and accounting, but about 90% of the other employees were illegal aliens (on student or sightseeing visas) living and working in New York, and not paying taxes on their wages. A complete free-for-all. That should change.
posted by hama7 at 3:57 AM on September 10, 2002


Nicolae (scary nick), there's more info on the Affidavit of Support at the link in my post. It's new since 1997, I think.

It only refers to direct payments (there seems to be some disagreement whether it applies to food stamps and other non-monetary payouts).

I really should document the hoops you have to jump through to become a legal resident in the US. I think it's one of those areas where legislators see a cheap vote-winner, and have saddled the bureacrats with so many regulations and so little money that the entire system is close to collapse. Even as a whitebread, wage-earning, spouse-of-an-American-citizen, I can barely negotiate it.
posted by ntk at 4:42 AM on September 10, 2002


If we extend the same privileges of citizenship to everyone who steps foot on our soil, then the value of citizenship goes out the window. It's something that has to be earned.

America actually considers the rights of non-citizens on its soil. Other countries aren't so nice.

Just remember, something given has no value.
posted by TheLoneWolf at 4:58 AM on September 10, 2002


I'm in the final stage of my U.S. green card application, I'm approved but it won't appear in my mailbox for some number of months. It's taken me a few years to get to this point, and once I'm there it will take another 5 years to become a citizen.

The lengths of time involved are definitely unfortunate, both for me and for U.S. citizens. I'll try to back up my viewpoint though. I'm a highly skilled engineer, this helps the U.S. On the other hand it would be very difficult for me to change jobs until I get the Green Card. It would nullify my present visa. This would make it easy for a company to exploit people in my position by paying them less than the prevailing wage. This isn't happening to me, I'd tell my employer to blow me and quit, but this is happening to other people. These people who are earning less than the prevailing wage are effectively reducing the wages a highly skilled U.S. citizen competing against the same positions can expect.

The length of time isn't really the problem in my opinion, its the attachment of the H1-B and other visas to a particular job at a particular company. If immigrants were allowed to shop around for the best rate once they got their green card, possibly after some SHORT freeze period, this problem would go away. In fact it would probably bolster the opportunity for U.S. citizens. There's an up front cost to bringing in an immigrant worker, they expect the same wages and there's no hidden regulations twisting their arms into staying.
posted by substrate at 5:24 AM on September 10, 2002


TheLoneWolf, what have you done to earn your citizenship besides be born in the United States? Would you be favour of compulsory military service before you're entitled to full rights as a citizen ala Robert Hienlen in several of his works?

Immigrants aren't entitled to the full rights of citizens, they aren't allowed to vote. Withholding other rights, such as free speech, the right to a fair trial or freedom of religion may seem like a good idea to certain xenophobes but in reality endangers the freedoms and welfare of American citizens. If a segment of the population is created with less rights there are those who will happily exploit it. Look at the current situation with immigration where technical workers from overseas are sometimes indentured servants. This happens because these people aren't free to look for a better life. This directly affects U.S. citizens since it creates a glut of people who will work for much cheaper than they will.
posted by substrate at 5:33 AM on September 10, 2002


Immigrants aren't entitled to the full rights of citizens, they aren't allowed to vote

Nor should they be, unless they are legal immigrants.
posted by hama7 at 6:12 AM on September 10, 2002


substrate: I'd absolutely be in favor of compulsory military service. Most of Europe (most of the world actually) has had such a requirement for years for their young people.

Taxes and selective service are the only things my government asks me to do as a citizen. If the government had more requirements (such as compulsory military service), I'd have done that too.

My point is if simply standing on American soil gives one the ability to enjoy every privilege as a citizen except for voting (and watch out because that'll happen next) then we might as well just do away with the process of allowing immigrants to become citizens and do away with our borders. You seem to imply that there's no importance to citizenship except the ability to vote.
posted by TheLoneWolf at 6:16 AM on September 10, 2002


TheLoneWolf, what have you done to earn your citizenship besides be born in the United States? Would you be favour of compulsory military service before you're entitled to full rights as a citizen ala Robert Hienlen in several of his works?

The oath of citizenship (and interviews beforehand) do in fact require that the prospective citizen be willing to take up arms for the US (or, more or less, establish that (s)he'd be a conscientious objector). I've suggested to my (Canadian) wife that by the time they get to drafting -year-old women, it's probably a serious fight that she might as well sign on for as try to get out of.

The interviews beforehand also ask, at several points in the process, whether the immigrant was a member of the Nazi party between 1933 and 1945, or whether the immigrant ever participated in genocide.

And service in the US military has long been a fast(er) path to citizenship, especially if there's a war on. Usually at the conclusion of a war, there's a bill to naturalize any foreigners serving during the war.

posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:24 AM on September 10, 2002


Sorry, which "Most of Europe" has compulsory miltary service ?
posted by daveg at 6:30 AM on September 10, 2002


hama7, I agree with you. I should not be allowed to vote, I should not be allowed to hold office etc. I should however be protected by the constitution equally with anybody else in the United States of America. You can't infringe on my rights without also giving the okie doke to infringement on your rights. I don't stick out. I'm a native english speaking person of european descent. Other than occasionally sprinkling words with an additional u there is no distinction that would allow a police officer to single me out for additional inspection. The only way to do so would be to allow the various police agencies to pull people over at random which directly infringes on your rights, if only to check that you are in fact a citizen.

TheLoneWolf, voting is perhaps the most important rights of a U.S. citizen. Other than the small minority of people who hold office, its the only opportunity you have to make a difference in the government at a local, regional or national level.
posted by substrate at 6:32 AM on September 10, 2002


Correction: Europe had this. (link)

A quote from that link:
"Until recently, the vast majority of Council of Europe states maintained systems of compulsory military service."
posted by TheLoneWolf at 6:35 AM on September 10, 2002


Substrate: Being white and speaking English doesn't entitle you to rights as a US citizen. Also, being stopped and asked for ID is completely legal in some cases so long as EVERYONE who passes through an area is stopped (just ask anyone who's driven through a roadblock). Of course, it's such a joke to get a license, that it doesn't matter much. I sure hope that gets fixed.

I agree voting is a great right, however the Bill of Rights should apply only to those who are US citizens. To arbitrarily hand them out is an insult to those who died to protect them. They didn't die so a German or British citizen could enjoy them, but so that anyone who goes through the process of being a US citizen can.
posted by TheLoneWolf at 6:45 AM on September 10, 2002


Another link talking about compulsory military service in Europe.
posted by TheLoneWolf at 6:50 AM on September 10, 2002


I agree voting is a great right, however the Bill of Rights should apply only to those who are US citizens.

And how do you propose to make that happen, then? Because it'd probably involve cloning yourself four times and getting all five of you elected to the Supreme Court.

To arbitrarily hand them out is an insult to those who died to protect them. They didn't die so a German or British citizen could enjoy them, but so that anyone who goes through the process of being a US citizen can.

In your case, 'going through the process' appears to have involved 'being born'. And 'being born' is pretty fucking arbitrary. Or more accurately, it's from pretty arbitrary fucking.
posted by riviera at 7:00 AM on September 10, 2002


TLW: If you're not going to apply the Bill of Rights to non-US citizens, then what standards are going to be applied? If you are going to go down this route, are you prepared for other countries to treat US citizens in ways that they wouldn't treat their own citizens, or are you expecting other countries to behave more responsibly than the US?

Thanks for the military service link.
posted by daveg at 7:01 AM on September 10, 2002


riviera: Nice condescending tone you have there. We already established 'being born' is all the country said I had to do to be a citizen (along with paying taxes and signing up to be drafted). Anyone who wasn't born here who wants those same rights can go through a process and get them, so what's the big deal?

daveg: It's a big, thorny issue. For most things, I'd be for across the board deportation (illegal alien + breaking the law = one way ticket back to homeland). For those accused of terrorist crimes hailing from states that would not consider terrorist crimes against the US criminal, I'd advocate a military tribunal.
posted by TheLoneWolf at 7:14 AM on September 10, 2002


The condescension's yours, TheLoneWolf.

To arbitrarily hand them out is an insult to those who died to protect them.

So, 'being born' isn't arbitrary under your standard? Because the implication in the word 'insult' is that 'those who died to protect' the Bill of Rights set the standard for who gets to benefit from them. In which case, plenty of 'those' would probably be insulted by, say, blacks having the same basic rights as whites. In fact, what you're doing is projecting your own opinions onto 'those' people, which is itself both tasteless and dishonest. But to talk of 'insult' is emotive rubbish.

And you still haven't answered my question: how are you going to withdraw the rights of non-citizens?
posted by riviera at 7:24 AM on September 10, 2002


I think TheLoneWolf and Riviera have come up with a good point between them: citizenship really is completely arbitrary. None of us chose where we were born, who our parents were, or what attributes we were born with. Taking any pride or shame in it doesn't make much rational sense. What does make sense is using what you got, and improving your and everyone else's lives in the process. There's your 'patriotic duty': make the world better.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 7:48 AM on September 10, 2002


So, 'being born' isn't arbitrary under your standard?

The arbitrarity of being born in a country is not the issue. The issue is the extending of certain rights of US citizens to those who are not citizens but are on our soil. You still haven't answered MY question: If anyone can become a US citizen, then why should we extend the benefits of US citizenship to those who are unwilling to go through the process? (I am referring to illegal aliens, not those on visas and the like).

I refuse to take your race bait and am appalled you would resort to such an inflammatory jump in perverted logic as well as the implication that I'm racist. In fact, you might as well just go ahead and invoke Godwin's law now and spare us the rest of this line of crap.

And you still haven't answered my question: how are you going to withdraw the rights of non-citizens?

How can one withdraw that they never had legally to begin with? If you disagree, there's a whole slew of folks at Guantanamo whose situation backs up what I'm saying.
posted by TheLoneWolf at 7:55 AM on September 10, 2002


i don't think that handing out rights devalues them. i think that denying basic rights, the ones claimed to be self-evident and derived from a higher source, to anyone is what devalues those rights.

our rights aren't supposed to be a privelege of citizenship. that would mean that those rights come from the government, and that the government would be completely within its bounds to limit or take those rights from anyone, citizen and non-citizen alike.

our rights are supposed to be natural, inherent to every person. if our rights are only contingent on the government's approval, then there was no reason to break away from Great Britian in the first place; the list of grievances falls completely with the scope of the British governments power.
posted by tolkhan at 8:30 AM on September 10, 2002


the government is not here to give us our rights. it was formed to protect the rights that we inherently hold by virtue of being human. it really pissed me off when people suggest otherwise.

i think this 'right to vote' is a red herring here. we don't have a right to vote. we have a right to have some voice in and control over our government. non-citizens have the same right over their government (whether that government is actively denying them that right is a different matter entirely, and inapplicable here).

our rights are basically the right to be treated equally and fairly by our government without undue infringement upon our liberty to go about our lives as we please without interfering and infringing on the rights of others. to allow our government to deny these rights to noncitizens is to give it power that it should not have.
posted by tolkhan at 8:41 AM on September 10, 2002


although i appreciate that "pissed" is in the spell check, the word should have been "pisses."
posted by tolkhan at 8:46 AM on September 10, 2002


You know, I've been trying to rework this in my head for a good half hour now, LoneWolf, but I can't do it.

You're genuinely suggesting that it's okay for you to deny someone their basic human rights on the singular basis of where they were born, aren't you?

Have you *any* idea of how many open-mouthed Founding Fathers are standing behind your shoulder right now, slapping their ghostly foreheads and cocking imaginary blunderbusses at your temple?
posted by ntk at 8:51 AM on September 10, 2002


The issue is the extending of certain rights of US citizens to those who are not citizens but are on our soil.

No, the issue is restricting inherent rights. In your head, those rights may not have been given out in the first place, but in the US Constitution large, they were already there.

You still haven't answered MY question: If anyone can become a US citizen, then why should we extend the benefits of US citizenship to those who are unwilling to go through the process? (I am referring to illegal aliens, not those on visas and the like).

The question's not there to be answered, as others have said, several times over. Your consitution says that the state guarantees inherent rights. You may not agree with that, but you can't deny it exists. The distinction between citizens and non-citizens is the right to choose the government one lives under. It's a very clear distinction. (Even the right to permanent residence is trickier.) While that distinction remains (and despite your fanciful claims, it's not going away any time soon) discussion of restricting other rights is diversionary.

And no, it's not race baiting; again, you impute an 'insult' where none exists. If you think I regard you as a racist, you're quite wrong; I do think that you're very wrong to transpose your own opinions into some kind of 'insult to our forefathers'.

How can one withdraw that they never had legally to begin with? If you disagree, there's a whole slew of folks at Guantanamo whose situation backs up what I'm saying.

Complete non sequitur, since Camp X-Ray isn't US soil, and thus not subject to US jurisdiction (would that it were). "Waiter, I ordered apple pie, and got orange tart. Send it back to the chef." Now, Jose Padilla's another matter entirely, which we'll see in court.
posted by riviera at 9:09 AM on September 10, 2002


The arbitrarity of being born in a country is not the issue. The issue is the extending of certain rights of US citizens to those who are not citizens but are on our soil. You still haven't answered MY question: If anyone can become a US citizen, then why should we extend the benefits of US citizenship to those who are unwilling to go through the process? (I am referring to illegal aliens, not those on visas and the like).

One of the basic issues here is that many of those legal rights, the right not to be tortured in government custody, and the right to a fair trial are considered to be not just American rights, but human rights as well. The question is not should we extend rights of citizenship to noncitizens, but should we extend human rights to all humans. If anything, the Bill of Rights is not just an outline of the limits of U.S. government power, but a powerful statement of how an ideal government should act.

Granted, there are some rights that the U.S. government can suspend arbitrarily in regards to noncitizens. For example noncitizens are not given free access to travel within our borders (such permission can be denied). On the other hand, one of the strongest arguments for our lax immigration laws is that our economy would basically stop without immigrant labor. The United States is going the same direction as other industrialized countries that depend on immigrant labor both legal and illegal for economic prosperity.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:13 AM on September 10, 2002


The poll is flawed, IMHO. I *DO* think that, with a court order, law enforcement should be able to monitor the activities of suspects. I also think the court better require a damned good reason for it.

Race and religion should be irrelevant to that. The way the poll was phrased, it's difficult to tell whether I should answer the general and the Arab/Muslim questions identically, or say I oppose government spying on Arabs/Muslims even though I didn't oppose it in general...

I'm from Florida, I need my polls to be extra clear ;)
posted by Foosnark at 9:43 AM on September 10, 2002


Wow. The environment doesn't even appear in the answers in question 1.
posted by Foosnark at 9:52 AM on September 10, 2002


ntk: Short answer: NO! Long answer: I said if someone's an illegal alien and they commit a crime, extradite them back to their country of origin to be tried and sentenced or, if they come from a country like Afghanistan (basically a country where there is no "country") put them before a tribunal. And keep your hands off my blunderbuss. Heh.

riveria: While I think you're well meaning, I still think you still don't understand what I'm saying and I'm tired of explaining it.

Guantanamo's not American soil, but it's hardly a non-sequitur since everyone held there is in US custody, isn't a US citizen, and has no rights that a US citizen does (though they are better off there than in their own country at the moment).
posted by TheLoneWolf at 10:09 AM on September 10, 2002


ntk: Short answer: NO! Long answer: I said if someone's an illegal alien and they commit a crime, extradite them back to their country of origin to be tried and sentenced or, if they come from a country like Afghanistan (basically a country where there is no "country") put them before a tribunal. And keep your hands off my blunderbuss. Heh.

The problem with this is one of jurisdiction. If they commit a crime on American soil they should be tried by American prosecutors in the American courts and serve time in American jails. Passing the buck to other countries to investigate and prosecute crimes on American soil seems to be place an unreasonable burden.

Of course I have no problem with evicting foreign nationals suspected of committing crimes if there is not enough evidence to support a full trial. But if there is evidence then the crime should go through the court system with the same standards of due process as with American citizens.

Guantanamo's not American soil, but it's hardly a non-sequitur since everyone held there is in US custody, isn't a US citizen, and has no rights that a US citizen does (though they are better off there than in their own country at the moment).

I believe that military bases are under U.S. Jurisdiction just like embassies. (In fact one of the major precidents regarding the scope of military court authority involved the wife of a serviceman at an oveseas base. The supreme court ruled rights granted to civilian citizens extend to military bases.)
posted by KirkJobSluder at 10:37 AM on September 10, 2002


Guantanamo's not American soil, but it's hardly a non-sequitur...

Yes. It. Is. Again, you may like to believe otherwise, but belief doesn't create fact. And if you're tired of explaining 'it', then it might be because 'it' is horseshit.
posted by riviera at 9:15 AM on September 11, 2002


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