Immigration: What Are The Rights Of Illegals?

BOSTON (CBS) – All this week, WBZ Reports presents an in-depth look at the immigration debate in Massachusetts.  In Immigration: The America Dream, WBZ News Radio’s Mary Blake examines the complex issue from various points of view.

Immigration reform is a simmering debate in this country and there’s no disputing the fact that we are a nation of immigrants.

Eva Millona is executive director of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition.

“We have most generous immigration policy in world.”

But, at a September GOP fundraiser in Nashua, Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio is equally quick to proclaim,
“We are a nation of laws.  You’ve got to enforce the laws.”

And those laws and immigration policy in practice are often on a collision course.

Daniel Kanstroom, a professor at Boston College Law School has written extensively about the basic rights of the individual versus government power and says the idea of citizenship plays prominently in those arguments-but he also asks, what about non-citizens?

“What are the limits and what are the basic rights an individual has as against government power?”

Kanstroom says, “the immigration law that is particularily interesting question is because in other areas of life, many times the answer to that question is based on an idea of citizenship. This is why for example it was so important for African Americans and abolitionists and for many republicans in the civil war period to say we need to have people to have citizenship.”

Kanstroom says this why there needs to a 14th amendment to guarantee citizenship because that was the basic that if you have criticism rights you have rights as everyone else or equal though your rights are grounded in citizenship.”

However, he says, “this left open a series of really powerful questions about all those other people who are living amongst us who are not citizens. They are people but they are not citizens does that mean they have no rights does it mean they have lesser rights, does it mean they have rights in some places but not other places does it mean they get some rights with status like permanent residence, green card status or people who have visas versus those who don’t? Does it mean they have lesser rights in other systems like if they’re prosecuted for a crime? Should they have less rights than a U.S. citizen? I always thought these questions were really profound and compelling.”

South Boston tea party activist Sue Long doesn’t hesitate giving her answer, “I’ve been very pro immigration, but I feel there is a process and the people who come here legally should have the first opportunity.”

Listen to Mary Blake’s report:

A look at the legal process in my next report.

Listen to Mary Blake’s reports all week at 12:05 p.m. and 12:35 p.m. and then again at 5:05 p.m. and 5:35 p.m. on WBZ News Radio 1030.

More from Mary Blake
  • alby

    illegal is illegal,should a cop catching a bank robber coming out of the bank say just give me the money back and you can go on your way.and what about those legally waiting in line.the hell with illegals

  • Ellen

    You got to be kidding, right. Immigrants that want to go by the book, come here legal, upfront, and background checks and all that have to put up with illegals who just skip through the back door and want all the privileges to boot. Stop with the ass kissing will you, God could this get any more stupid.

  • Jim

    Were you aware that almost everything that Americans donate are also given to or used for illegal aliens? I have stopped donating blood, I am no longer a organ donor, I no longer donate clothing or other personal items to charities such as the Salvation Army, I only make cash donations to pet organizations; hopefully; there are not that many illegal alien pets!. I belong to a network of friends that have also discontinued donating. What if anything does our government plan to do regarding illegals. I want needy Americans to benefit from my donations only!

    • Kathy

      Wow, I thought I was the only one. I’ve stopped donating to any organization except those in my small town in NH. I used to give to the Red Stocking Fund which helps parents give needy kids a Christmas on Martha’s Vineyard until I started thinking of how many illegal Brazilians are living there. They can get their kids presents on their own. I do enough with my property taxes on my home there. I help to educate the kids of the illegals. I wish there was a way around that.

    • Anna


  • Albert

    We are committing national suicide by allowing ourselves to overrun by criminal illegals.

    Deny services of any kind to these invaders and they will self deport.

  • El Chaparro

    Everyone of you have have not said which illegals, LOS MEXICANOS? Ever since I could remember, oh I wasn’t born yet, THIS COUNTRY WAS BUILT BY IMMIGRANTS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • massman

    You people should be embarassed by your comments. Stop donating to charity because an illegal immigrant may benefit from it? The Becks and Limbaughs of the world have really done a number on many of you. The racism is truly disgusting.

    • Kathy

      I won’t donate anymore because I choose where I want to spend my “extra” money. My grandparents came here from Ireland and Finland. They came here legally. They embraced their new country by living as Americans. My Finnish grandparents learned English and NEVER expected a handout or special treatment from Americans. I expect the same from all immigrants. You must come here through the proper channels. I have another example. My son in law of 6 years, came to the US from Canada to attend college. After graduating, he followed the rules and spent countless hours and funds getting all the paperwork right in order to stay here. He and my daughter married and now have 2 young children who are dual citizens of the US and Canada. They did all that paperwork correctly also. My husband and i have worked long and hard to support all 4 of our kids and send every one of them to college. We paid out of state tuition to MA and Maine for college tuition while an illegal alien comes into our country, has children who we all educate and then they want instate college tuition also, when they should not be here to begin with. So, yes, massman I do not donate my hard earned money to some one who should not be here. I do not listen to Glenn Beck or Rush. I am not racist. Our country is in such trouble financially and otherwise. We need to stop the handouts that many people who are here illegally have come to expect.

  • TERI


  • AmazingRonaldo

    El Chaparro, sure many of us are all sons and daughters of immigrants, but there is a difference between my family who immigrated here 400 years ago and many of the illegals today. My forefathers had to work hard once they came here, and wanted to in order to make a new life. There were no handouts, no public assistance. Until welfare came along that is the way it was. You came and succeeded or you failed but you came for that chance to succeed and you worked hard to do so. Most of my ‘Legal’ immigrant friends don’t like the fact that illegals can gain a free ride while my friends worked hard to obtain a good life and their citizenship, all the while originally coming here legally. I think people are mad because we work hard while others can come here illegally and siphon off us via public assistance.

  • DStein

    We should clarify that we are a nation of LEGAL immigrants. My grandparents came here LEGALLY and went through the process to eventually become U.S. citizens. I have friends from all over the globe that did the same thing. In fact, they more than anyone else I know are outraged by the illegal immigrants. They are breaking the law. They are dragging us down. We don’t need more people here that can’t support themselves, don’t obey our laws, and milk the taxpayers for everything they’re worth.

    I have no problem with people wanting to come here for a better life. But this is a sovereign nation that has every right to control immigration and determine how many come in and from where they’re coming from. We need BALANCED immigration at a rate we can realistically absorb and have them assimilate into OUR culture and society. When you have to press 1 for English and 2 for Spanish you know we’ve let things get WAY out of hand. Time to stop the flow of people from South of the border and encourage immigration from other parts of the globe.

    Further, like other countries, we should require that people coming here have the ability to support themselves. They should be required to put an amount of money in escrow that guarantees they have the financial aboility to get back to their own country when the time comes and/or their visa expires. Even non-U.S. citizens that are here LEGALLY shouldn’t be allowed to take advantage of ANY public assistance programs with the exception of short-term unemployment benefits and Social Security only if they’ve been paying into the system. If you have to go on welfare, apply for public housing, etc., your visa should be revoked and you should go home. Period. We owe you nothing.

    • Emma

      Legal=illegal, no difference. A hundred years ago ANYONE could just show up and got citizenhship, NEVER forget that, when you talk how” legal” your ancestors were. They were no more legal than today’s immigrants!!!

      • Kathy

        Actually Emma, I have copies of my Finnish grandfather’s papers from Ellis Island. I’m pretty sure that he came legally.

  • Done WIth Handouts

    DStein, good points, well-spoken argument. I agree completely.

  • Denes Kiss

    I came here legally 10 years ago. My job sponsored me. I have a child, i pay tax, i donate, i pay my credit cards. I leave my life just like many of you. I still waiting for my green card, it’s been 10 years still nothing /nobody cares/. I never did any crime. So i’m legal or illegal. The problem is the immigration system, not the peoples. You donate because you wanna help. No matter who’s gonna get the help. None of you say : “maybe our immigration system is broken”. No. Everybody blame the illegals. I wanna see what you gonna say, when millions of illegal immigrants gonna get papers! I will laugh! :)

  • Anna

    We are nobody to judge anybody,I do know there are a lot of illegal immigrants that come here to do bad things such as drugs transport.But there are also people who like to work,who need a chance to show that they can be better on life honestly.Go to school and give a better life for their family.Why is that so wrong to try to be better on life.We are all human, is nothing wrong on let good people ,illegal or not,work and do better on life.It is very sad to see human fighting against of their on kind.FOR WHAT,???money???All about money of course.I do believe that illegal who are criminal need to be punish for what they do.But what I ask for all of you to think,is that are a lot of good and hard work people who deserves that chance on life.Give them opportunity,and they won’t need your donations.

    • Jean

      Anna i’m whatchimg you at all the times keep going may God bless you and your family, because Racist American people put all of the immigrants people in a same basket.

  • Lena

    No human being is illegal, PERIOD. STop the hate.

  • Jim

    For those of you that state that we are a nation of immigrants or that anyone that states that illegals need to go home are racist; you are lame and do not deserve any recognition.

    #1. I am Passamaquoddy indian; 2000 plus year residency on North America.

    #2. You are the racist; when has anyone other than you classified the illegals as minorities; we have illegals from all walks of life.

    Quite frankly you make me laugh; ignorance and stupidity are sad qualities; I would prefer that all of you leave my land and go back to where you came from. You have destroyed a once civilized land!

  • May

    okay but do you know how much it takes to get this rewarding green card?! about $16,000 and a loyal lawyer and a around 10 years!!! 10 years without your family, you have no idea how much we suffer. and $16,000… all those digits…how many of you have that in yalls pocket? Yeah be thankful for wat you got and dont have to suffer like others. we cant help it if our nation’s government is jacked up. most of us do it for the best of our children You know you would too to see your loving kid come home safe with a bright future. you know you would.

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