A Comparative Study of Chicago and Madrid
Edited By Francisco Velasco Caballero and María de los Angeles Torres
Chapter Three: Overview of the Rights of Unauthorized Immigrants in the United States
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Overview of the Rights of Unauthorized Immigrants in the United States
MATTHEW KUENNING, UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS AT URBANA-CHAMPAIGN
My questions are very general: what rights do unauthorized immigrants have in the United States? What are the prospects for expanding or decreasing those rights in the future? Most of what follows addresses the first question. I conclude with some brief speculation about the second. Before beginning, I try to clarify the questions by defining my terms.
First, by “rights” I mean any sort of claim, entitlement, or the like, which may be recognized and enforced by courts in the U.S. Thus, I limit the discussion to the law. I won’t be discussing any of the important questions about what is due to unauthorized immigrants as a matter of justice, morality, or principles of human rights that have not been written into law in the U.S. On the other hand, I do not limit the discussion to the constitutional rights of unauthorized immigrants. Any sort of law is good enough to make a right.
Of course having a right is not the same thing as having the power to enforce it. This chapter does not discuss important questions about the degree to which unauthorized immigrants lack the power to enforce what rights they do have. I only assume that unauthorized immigrants are not so powerless as to make idle discussion of their rights....
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