Constitution, Civil Rights and Immigrants

Credits: 2.00
Faculty: Maryellen Fullerton

Immigration has been described as the "civil rights issue of our time." This course will examine the role of U.S. constitutional and statutory law in protecting the rights of noncitizens in the United States. Noncitizens "or immigrants" are, by definition, a vulnerable group in most societies. This course will explore the rights that immigrants do, and do not, have under U.S. law. In contrast to traditional Immigration Law courses, which examine the terms under which noncitizens are admitted to and removed from the United States, this course focuses on the legal protections available to noncitizens while they are living and working in the United States. This course will examine the manner in which the U.S. Constitution has been interpreted in an atrophied fashion in the immigration context. For example, the U.S. Constitution permits Congress to apply rules to noncitizens that it could never apply to citizens. Furthermore, fundamental constitutional principles - such as the checks and balances provided by judicial review - have been truncated in decisions involving immigrants. On the other hand, landmark constitutional decisions, from Yick Wo to Plyler v. Doe, have expanded protection to vulnerable noncitizens targeted by hostile legislators. In addition to constitutional dimensions, the course will examine U.S. civil rights statutes and the protection they afford to noncitizens. It will also analyze the political ferment unleashed by the contemporary debates about the role of immigration in U.S. society and the need to reform the current legal framework for immigration.

Grading and Method of Evaluation:

Letter grade with pass/fail option. Final exam.


Constitutional Law