Fake News: Supreme Court Did NOT Rule Illegal Aliens Have No Due Process Rights In America

Fact Check

  • by: Alan Duke
Fake News: Supreme Court Did NOT Rule Illegal Aliens Have No Due Process Rights In America

Did the U.S. Supreme Court rule that illegal aliens have no due process rights in America? No, that's not true: It is a twisted conclusion based on ancient court decisions -- made in 1856, 1892, 1896, 1950, and 1972 -- that mostly involved the rights of foreigners who sought entry into the United States through legal means and were not already in the United States. Much more recently, Justice Antonin Scalia wrote in the majority opinion for Reno v. Flores (91-905), 507 U.S. 292 (1993) that "it is well established that the Fifth Amendment entitles aliens to due process of law."

The story originated on NewsPunch.com, but that publisher deleted its article after further research revealed inaccuracies. Copycat publishers ripped it off and republished, including an article (archived here) posted on September 6, 2019 under the title "Supreme Court: Illegal Aliens Have No Due Process Rights In America". It opened:

The Supreme Court has ruled that illegal immigrants are not owed the same constitutional protections as regular, law-abiding Americans.

In a devastating blow to open-borders advocates, SCOTUS has ruled that illegal aliens can and should be deported out of America without any hearings or litigation.

This is what social media users saw:

Beyond those first two sentences, the story quotes from a July 5, 2018, Lifezette.com article titled "Supreme Court Says Foreign Nationals Have No Due Process Rights Here". This stories claim that the U.S. constitutional rights and protections don't extend to non-citizens on American soil is not based on any recent court decisions. The five rulings cited date back to 1852, when slavery was still considered constitutional, and no more recent than 1972. None of these cases challenged the understanding that the constitution applied for all people, not just citizens. A more recent case, however, does address the question of illegal immigrants due process rights. We refer to a PBS.org article published in June 25, 2018 titled "What constitutional rights do undocumented immigrants have?":

The issue of due process is at the heart of many immigration cases, including Reno v. Flores, the 1993 Supreme Court case that has returned to the spotlight with the surge in family separations. The case led to an agreement requiring the government to release children to their parents, a relative or a licensed program within 20 days.

In the ruling, Justice Antonin Scalia wrote "it is well established that the Fifth Amendment entitles aliens to due process of law in deportation proceedings."

For more context on the Scalia quote, click here and read the 20th paragraph of the full opinion in Reno v. Flores.

Having due process rights does not mean that non-citizens who are suspected of entering the U.S. illegally cannot be treated differently than citizens. Congress can and has passed laws that provide for them to be deported, but those laws must include a due process that complies with the U.S. constitutional protections. Again, we refer you to the PBS story "What constitutional rights do undocumented immigrants have?"for a good analysis of that.

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  Alan Duke

Editor-in-Chief Alan Duke co-founded Lead Stories after ending a 26-year career with CNN, where he mainly covered entertainment, current affairs and politics. Duke closely covered domestic terrorism cases for CNN, including the Oklahoma City federal building bombing, the UNABOMBER and search for Southeast bomber Eric Robert Rudolph. CNN moved Duke to Los Angeles in 2009 to cover the entertainment beat. Duke also co-hosted a daily podcast with former HLN host Nancy Grace, "Crime Stories with Nancy Grace" and hosted the podcast series "Stan Lee's World: His Real Life Battle with Heroes & Villains." You'll also see Duke in many news documentaries, including on the Reelz channel, CNN and HLN.

Read more about or contact Alan Duke

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