Alienated: Immigrant Rights, the Constitution, and Equality in America

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NYU Press, Feb 1, 2005 - Law - 261 pages
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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.


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Page ix - We must delight in each other, make others' conditions our own, rejoice together, mourn together, labor and suffer together: always having before our eyes our commission and community in the work, our community as members of the same body.
Page 13 - We think that, in the present state of the world, it would be rash and irresponsible to reinterpret our fundamental law to deny or qualify the Government's power of deportation. However desirable world-wide amelioration of the lot of aliens, we think it is peculiarly a subject for international diplomacy. It should not be initiated by judicial decision which can only deprive our own Government of a power of defense and reprisal without obtaining for American citizens abroad any reciprocal privileges...

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About the author (2005)

Victor C. Romero is Professor of Law at Pennsylvania State University's Dickinson School of Law.

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