Y’all Really Should Go Back From Where You Came

…we’ve got no chill.

The movie ‘13th’ explores the history of racial inequality in the United States, focusing on the fact that the nation’s prisons are disproportionately filled with African-Americans.

The movie hinges on the 13th Amendment, as the title indicates, and its criminality loophole. Ratified in 1865, the amendment states in full:

“Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”

AKA: slavery was abolished for everyone, except criminals.

The movie then goes on to explain how black Americans were targeted for criminalization and incarceration (and, therefore, legalized slavery) for the next century and beyond.

With this amendment and its effects in mind, I turn now to “undocumented visitors” in the United States.

A citizen is a member of a nation-state to whom he or she owes allegiance, and is entitled to its protection (if you ask the dictionary). It follows that a non-citizen is someone who is not a member of a nation-state nor owes allegiance to the state he or she currently resides. Remember: We are NOT all Immigrants.

But what protections does a non-citizen get from a nation-state? Are non-citizens subject to fewer rights in the U.S.?

The 13th Amendment’s friend, another of the “Civil War Amendments”—the 14th—gives some guidance on the issue:

“Section 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.”

Catch that distinction?

The first part of the amendment addresses citizens—who is a citizen, and that citizens are entitled to the privileges and immunities afforded all citizens—then, the second half goes on to talk about “persons”, not merely citizens.

All persons are entitled to due process and equal protection of the laws. In the United States, everyone’s life, liberty, and property cannot simply be infringed by the government without the proper processes. And laws simply do not apply differently or not-at-all based on status. The only rights limited to citizens are the ones to vote and hold federal elected office.

Therefore, it would appear that equality between non-nationals and citizens is the rule. (And this has been reinforced by court rulings. Learn more about it at the Cornell Law site.)

So, non-citizens have certain protections. They can’t be stopped, detained, arrested, convicted, or punished without reasonable suspicion, proper process, reasonable doubt, etc., etc.… But there are laws against being in the United States without proper documentation. And those laws (and events subsequent to breaking them) will apply to them equally. There are no “I’m An Immigrant, Get Me Outta Here” cards.

And the xenophobes have the majority in government.

And there’s someone in charge who thinks Mexicans are rapists and drug dealers.

And there was the immigrant ban attempt, then the order ramping up ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement) enforcement.

So, just like blacks after the passage of the 13th Amendment, non-citizens are being targeted as criminals. Immigration laws are being enforced, and it is against those laws to have—as one officer in this news story deemed them—“documentation deficiencies.”

And once a maligned group is in the “justice system,” well… if history tells us anything, it’s that those in the targeted group don’t fare very well.
Disproportionate conviction rates plague non-white criminals. Then, they find themselves part of the Prison-Industrial Complex, making cheese and preparing fish to sell in Whole Foods or sewing panties… is that what Victoria’s secret is—slave labor, I mean, inmate labor??

Kinda makes me wonder if “Mexico paying for the wall” wasn’t limited to financial terms…

So, yeah, if I was an undocumented immigrant, I’d re-think my presence here.

Considering the political climate, the pervasive anti-immigrant sentiments spurring an active executive, existing laws, and the 13th Amendment… I’d probably scram from this Land of the [Nearly-]Free[Labor].