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Published: Sunday, 4/28/2013

Division I Winner

Equal rights belong to all humans

Carl Armstrong Memorial Law Day Essay Contest

BY MARGARET FIGLIOMENI
SYLVANIA NORTHVIEW HIGH SCHOOL

Thomas Paine stated in Common Sense, “The cause of America is in a great measure the cause of all mankind.” It is for this reason that immigrants are entitled to equal protection and rights under the law.

Enlightenment thinker John Locke believed that man is born with inherent and inalienable rights: those of life, liberty, and property. Thomas Jefferson looked to this principle as inspiration when he wrote the Declaration of Independence, which states that “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these of Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” Our country is founded upon the guarantee of these rights every human is born with. Therefore, we should extend constitutional rights and privileges to all human beings regardless of geographic factors or nationalities.

Arizona recently passed a controversially strict anti-illegal immigration law. It states that it is illegal for an alien to be without registration documents on their person and officers must attempt to determine immigration statuses through detainment not specific to suspicious activity. This law directly contrasts the ideals of equality and freedom that our country was founded upon by denying immigrants rights simply based on where they were born. It also allows for racial profiling, which hinders the freedoms of all those it affects by planting the seeds of prejudice and injustice within our legal system.

On the other hand, there is an argument to be made about the distinction between those who have worked to gain legal entrance to a better life in America and those who come using illegal means. It is admittedly unfair to grant those who have not followed the law the same life as those who went through the proper channels; the fact that illegal immigrants do not pay taxes yet have the same quality of life as legal immigrants is also a problem.

However, there is no clear-cut right answer to this issue; it would also be unjust to deny immigrants their natural rights that the Declaration stated were endowed upon all men.

Perhaps a fairer solution would be to focus less on removing illegal aliens who are already in the country, and focus more on the prevention of future illegal immigrants through better border control.

Also, we should look at the methods available to non-natives to legally live in America, and examine ways they could be modified to make the American Dream a more legally viable option than it currently is. If entering the country legally became more attainable, there would be less illegal immigration and more immigrants who are legally and fairly experiencing a better life with protection of their rights.

We do not get to choose where we are born and what we are born into. Everyone has the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness and should be able to pursue opportunities for a better life in the home of the free and the brave.



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