Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Do foreign people have US constitutional rights before setting foot in the country? (Trump question)

Some observers in social media are saying today that Donald Trump’s proposal to ban entry of “Muslims” might have some traction when dealing with  a person who has not yet entered the country.  The Constitution, it is argued, does not give the person fundamental due process rights until he or she is in the country legally. It’s a catch-22. A citizen or legal resident who does travel abroad, however, is completely covered by the Constitution when returning.
On CNN Jeffrey Toobin downplayed this whole thread of  rationalization, saying that the idea that Congress can pass no law explicitly invoking a religious test ever would trump (pun) over this argument.  No such law has been passed. If one were, it would percolate to the Supreme Court very quickly.
But we know from the past that constitutional rights have been trampled.  Look at the Japanese Nisei during World War II.  Look at the sedition laws about criticizing the military draft during World War I.

There's also supposed to be difference (or distinction) between "terrorism" and "war" as far as demanding unequal sacrifices from people.  "War" losses aren't insurable (although the government wound up indemnifying a lot of the damage from 9/11). "Terror" aims at creating divisions by forcing governments to limit liberties of citizens, often inequitably, to safeguard the majority. Donald Trump is falling for it.  But there are times when war conditions exist, and citizens have to become resilient enough to redirect themselves.  Imagine living in London in 1940, or in Poland in 1939.  The Jews in Europe faced total warfare against them, not just "terror."  And a horrible heritage in the Middle East and elsewhere follows.

Update: Dec. 10

The Opinion page (7A) in the Gannett "US Today" newspaper today has a center-page headline "We should be at war". Mongering?

And the New York Times has a distrubing op-ed on p. A35 Dec. 10 by Peter Sprio, "Is Trump's Plan Legal?" here. Onlne, the title is more telling and specific: "Trump's Anti-Muslim Plan Is Awful. And Constitutional."

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