Friday, February 9, 2007

Delay In Citizenship Application is a Constitutional Issue?

CAIR has an article entitled CAIR-CA: Rights Groups Sue Over Citizenship Delay, with links to another article put out by the Associated Press Civil rights groups sue over delay in processing citizenship.

A key quote which leads off the AP article:

Immigrants who waited years for their citizenship applications to be processed because of lengthy security checks claimed in a lawsuit Thursday that the delays violated their constitutional rights of due process.

Key words: "the delays violated their constitutional rights of due process."

CAIR is concerned, naturally enough, because there is a Pakistani citizen (presumably a Muslim?) involved. However, immigrants from East Asia (presumably not Muslims?) are also involved, so the ACLU and the Asian Law Caucus are involved.

In other words, no one group of people is being singled out among immigrants. (This is not to imply that there is no cause to single out a specific group of people among immigrants -- but, that's another story.)

How are the Constitutional rights of these non-citizens being violated?

Here is the Fifth Amendment, which has a due-process clause:

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Who is being deprived of life, liberty or property by having their citizenship application processed in a manner that is not as timely as the applicant may wish?

Here is the first section of the Fourteenth Amendment, which also has a due process clause:

1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. 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.

If the person is not yet a citizen, then abridging her or his privileges or immunities as a citizen is not an issue. Here again, there is the question about who is being deprived of life, liberty or property. Finally, it states that no person may be denied equal protection of the laws -- the key word here is equal, not speedy -- by any state. In principle, neither should anyone be deprived of equal protection of the laws by the federal government, although that is not explicitly stated here.

So then, my questions boil down to these (along with the answers I have so far come up with):

1) Who is being deprived of life, liberty or property in this issue? (No one.)
2) If a person is not a US citizen, how are that person's privileges or immunities as a US citizen being abridged? (It is impossible to do so until that person becomes a citizen.)
3) If the process is the same for all immigrants (and it appears to be), then how is any person being deprived of equal protection of the laws? (No one is -- they may not like it, but they are being treated equally.)

Given the answers I come up with to the first three questions, not only do I fail to find how this is a Constitutional due process issue, but I must ask How is this a Constitutional issue at all?

We need judges with guts, who will rule these lawsuits as frivolous, and throw these people out of court, and perhaps even fine them for wasting the court's time!

Lessons in Citizenship:

1) Voters get out to vote for President, Governor, US Senator, etc; in a phenomenon known as "voter drop-off", as they go farther down the ballot, voters tend to lose interest and not vote in races and on issues at the bottom. Yet, these races for judicial positions, school board, etc., at the bottom of the ballot, are some of the most important races, since they most immediately affect the voters in their local communities. Furthermore, in these local courtrooms, school boards, etc., is where much of the stupidity that we have to deal with at a national level is born. Finally, here is where a judge starts a judicial career; local judges are the farm team for the big leagues of the state supreme court systems, the federal court system and, ultimately, the US Supreme Court. By parallel, in the local commissions and councils and in the state legislatures is where some of the buffoons we have in Congress get their start. Taking an interest in your local judicial and other races at each election will save us all problems later on.

2) All judges are either appointed or elected. A federal judge is appointed, and can be impeached in a manner similar to an impeachment of the President: the articles of impeachment begin in the US House of Representatives, and the trial is held in the US Senate. The difference is that if it is the US President on trial, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court presides over the trial in the Senate, not the Vice President of the United States, who is the president of the senate. In states where judges are appointed, there is typically a parallel process in the state legislature to get rid of them. In other states, the judges are elected, so you just vote them out to get rid of them.

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