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Immigrant Rights, the Constitution, and Equality in America

Victor Romero

Publication Year: 2005

Throughout American history, the government has used U.S. citizenship and immigration law to protect privileged groups from less privileged ones, using citizenship as a “:legitimate” proxy for otherwise invidious, and often unconstitutional, discrimination on the basis of race. While racial discrimination is rarely legally acceptable today, profiling on the basis of citizenship is still largely unchecked, and has in fact arguably increased in the wake of the September 11 terror attacks on the United States. In this thoughtful examination of the intersection between American immigration and constitutional law, Victor C. Romero draws our attention to a “constitutional immigration law paradox” that reserves certain rights for U.S. citizens only, while simultaneously purporting to treat all people fairly under constitutional law regardless of citizenship.

As a naturalized Filipino American, Romero brings an outsider's perspective to Alienated, forcing us to look at constitutional immigration law from the vantage point of people whose citizenship status is murky (either legally or from the viewpoint of other citizens and lawmakers), including foreign-born adoptees, undocumented immigrants, tourists, foreign students, and same-gender bi-national partners. Romero endorses an equality-based reading of the Constitution and advocates a new theoretical and practical approach that protects the individual rights of non-citizens without sacrificing their personhood.

Published by: NYU Press


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pp. xi

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pp. xiii-xiv

Thanks first to Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic for suggesting that I might write a book for their Critical America series, and to Debbie Gershenowitz at NYU Press, whose vision helped provide shape and substance to the manuscript. Two anonymous readers provided useful and encouraging feedback. ...

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Introduction: The Constitutional Immigration Law Paradox: How Do We Make Unequals Equal?

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pp. 1-8

I study the intersection of American immigration and constitutional law, two fields that, by themselves, create enough problems for the average seeker, but when combined in the growing field of “constitutional immigration law” raise particularly perplexing issues. ...

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1: Equality for All as a Constitutional Mandate (Noncitizens Included!)

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pp. 9-23

In this brief chapter, I combine a traditional analysis of constitutional immigration law with the multidimensional approach I described earlier—merging personal narrative, other legal sources, and nonlegal sources—in support of my thesis that the best reading of the Constitution is one that maximizes parity ...

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2: Immigrants and the War on Terrorism after 9/11

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pp. 24-50

One of the first acts of government profiling following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks was conducted not against people, but against cargo. As he watched the pillars of smoke billow from the World Trade Center towers from his office across the river, Kevin McCabe, Chief Inspector of the Contraband ...

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3: Automatic Citizens, Automatic Deportees: Parents, Children and Crimes

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pp. 51-68

My wife, Corie, and I have been blessed with two wonderful children, Ryan and Julia, whom we adopted from the Philippines, my place of birth. Corie had dreamed about adopting since she was in middle school. For me, the idea of adopting from the Philippines appealed as a way of further strengthening ...

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4: Building the Floor: Preserving the Fourth Amendment Rights of Undocumented Migrants

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pp. 69-91

In this chapter, I contend that the Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable government searches and seizures is a constitutional “floor” that should extend to undocumented immigrants, despite recent pronouncements by some courts suggesting otherwise. ...

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5: Hitting the Ceiling: The Right to a College Education

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pp. 92-106

While one could certainly argue that the Constitution guarantees undocumented immigrants both Fourth Amendment protection and governmental aid, or that it conveys neither, I start from the premise that the Bill of Rights are generally regarded as “negative” rather than “positive” in nature ...

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6: A Peek into the Future?: Same-Gender Partners and Immigration Law

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pp. 107-160

Would the federal government’s decision to selectively deport the foreign same-gender partners of U.S. citizens based solely on their sexual orientation violate the Constitution? This controversial question captures three major themes highlighted in the last three chapters on nonterrorist “others.” ...

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7: The Equal Noncitizen: Alternatives in Theory and Practice

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pp. 161-198

The previous chapters surveyed the myriad ways in which the American legal system fails to fulfill the Constitution’s promise of equality regarding its treatment of noncitizens. Throughout the book I have attempted to provide concrete solutions to the problems posed, some theoretical, some practical, ...


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pp. 199-236

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pp. 237-256


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pp. 257-260

About the Author

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pp. 261

E-ISBN-13: 9780814708040
E-ISBN-10: 0814708048
Print-ISBN-13: 9780814775684
Print-ISBN-10: 0814775683

Page Count: 277
Publication Year: 2005

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Emigration and immigration law -- United States.
  • Mysticism.
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