The arrogant sense of entitlement displayed by many illegal aliens has caused some of them to demand protection of constitutional rights guaranteed to legal U.S. citizens. Many of them even equate their situation to the civil rights struggle by black Americans in the 1950s and 1960s. Dolores Huerta, co-founder with Cesar Chavez of the United Farm Workers Union (UFWU), said last week at a rally, “We’re here celebrating a new civil rights movement, and it’s headed up by Latinos.” Ms. Huerta is deliberately misleading her followers. There is no parallel between the struggle by legal black U.S. citizens to secure their constitutionally guaranteed protections and the claim on non-existent civil rights made by millions of illegal aliens. Illegal is not a civil right.
Leaders of the long struggle for civil rights aspired to secure and protect rights based on an ideal written in the Declaration of Independence and later codified in the U.S. Constitution. That is, that all men and women are created equal, and in the U.S. all legal citizens will be guaranteed equal protection of the laws.
The 20th Century civil rights movement was preceded by nearly 250 years of slavery, followed by nearly a century of discrimination, segregation and Jim Crow laws. The movement ultimately achieved a number of legal and legislative victories, including the 1954 Supreme Court ruling in Brown v. Board of Education, the Civil Rights Acts of 1957 and 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
The key difference between the civil rights movement of the 19th and 20th Centuries and the call today for protection of non-existent rights by leaders of illegal aliens is that the leaders of the civil rights movement were fighting to secure and protect the rights of legal citizens. If illegal aliens were conferred the same constitutional rights as legal U.S. citizens, the benefits and uniqueness of U.S. citizenship would cease to have meaning and our nation would lose its sovereignty.
Herman Cain is the National Chairman of the Media Research Center’s Business & Media Institute. He is the former president and CEO of Godfather’s Pizza, Inc., and currently is CEO and president of T.H.E. New Voice, Inc., a business and leadership consulting company.
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