From the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States
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.
From the Declaration of Independence of the United States
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. –That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,
Why do I bring this up? Recently the debate has been raging about what rights are afforded to undocumented workers or illegal immigrants, sometimes inhumanely referred to as “illegals.” The heart of the debate, if it can be said to have one at all, is that only citizens are afforded the rights protected by the Constitution.
If you are not a citizen, then you are out of luck.
The power of the Constitution comes neither from the government itself nor the People. James Madison seems to agree with me.
“Because if . . . [An Unalienable Natural Right of Free Men] . . . be exempt from the authority of the Society at large, still less can it be subject to that of the Legislative Body. The latter are but the creatures and vicegerents of the former. Their jurisdiction is both derivative and limited: It is limited with regard to the coordinate departments, more necessarily is it limited with regard to the constituents. The preservation of a free Government requires, not merely, that the metes and bounds which separate each department of power be invariably maintained: but more especially that neither of them be suffered to overleap the greater Barrier which defends the rights of the people. The Rulers who are guilty of such an encroachment, exceed the commission from which they derive their authority, and are Tyrants. The people who submit to it are governed by laws made neither by themselves nor by an authority derived from them, and are Slaves — James Madison, June 1785.
What he is saying is that the People are capricious, and since the government is an extension of the people then it too is capricious. It [the government] cannot be trusted with our most important gifts of creation.
I think some clue to the whole puzzle of where our rights come from, how they apply, and to whom they apply is contained in the Declaration of Independence. “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…” Unalienable: non-transferable, unable to destroy, eradicate, or remove. That is to say, if you are human you have these rights whether you want them or not and no one can legally take them away. Of course if someone uses force to subject you, no legal order gives them authority, and we the People of the United States with the authority of the Constitution, shall protect you and restore to you your proper rights.
The Declaration of Independence, in my mind, can be seen as the spirit under which was formed the whole of our union. It was the mission statement, frame of reference, or inspiration from which all the founding documents flowed.
These rights we have as a person are in all ways incontrovertible. The mention of a Creator, I believe, is simply an acknowledgment of “other than the ways of men.” It could have easily said, “You, by the fact of your birth in the Universe, have the following rights, none of which is granted to you by us, our representatives, or their agents.” We the government are not the authority giving you these rights, we the government of the people simply acknowledge them and pledge to protect them from others that would seek to subvert these rights.
In short, we didn’t invent these rights, we just protect them.
It bears mentioning again. The government IS NOT the authority for your rights as a human being. It took a while, but the fourteenth amendment to the Constitution is the part that finally spelled it out. We’d spent nearly a century assuming, but no longer, the XIV was going to nail it down with railroad spikes. Let there by no doubt. “…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.”
There is no distinction there for citizen/non-citizen. We the people of the United States recognize that the rights of man are not beholden to the whimsy of the public or the government. The People and by its extension, the government, have no authority to grant, rescind, or amend these rights.
Again, the Constitution and the government and its laws protect these rights but neither grant them nor bestow them.
The next time you hear some shill talking about the Constitution not protecting illegal immigrants or granting to us something it does not grant to them, be wary, for if the Constitution has the power to NOT grant rights to those other people, than from where does the authority for your rights come? The Constitution? I don’t think so.
To keep these rights from illegal immigrants is to subvert your own rights. I don’t know about you, but MY rights do not come from the Constitution. The Constitution simply exhorts you/us to protect these rights that are bestowed upon us by “other than man.” You have them because you exist.
To fight for the rights of illegal immigrants is to fight for your very own rights. I, for one, have no interest in granting authority for my liberty to the US Government. I hold it on my own as a person. The People have pledged to protect those rights whether you be natural born or an alien, for it is the people we are, a people who love liberty, a people who wish for none to be subjugated under the unlawful heel of tyranny or injustice.
Unalienable rights apply everywhere in the world in all nations, but it is only within our borders that they are protected by the Consitution. It is only here where we have the authority to enforce these rights as a people. The day that we apply a different standard to visitors, tourists, people of other nations living in working in America than we apply to our own citizens is the day that we subvert the true intent of the Constitution.