May 2, 2003

Editorial:

The Pillars of America Are Being Undercut

The Pillars upon which our country rests upon are embodied within the Consti-tution and the Bill of Rights. Lately some of the elements of the foundations that maintain our nation as a Democracy have been eroded. The framers of our Constitution granted certain powers to the Legislative Branch of Government, to the Executive, and to the Judiciary Branch. Completing the Pillars that would sustain our form of government was the Power of Judicial Review assigned to the Judicial Branch. The Supreme Court would hold the ultimate power of Judicial Review over the Legislative, Executive and the lower Courts of the Nation. The intent was to not allow any particular Branch of government to have the power to completely dominate and control the nation.

It has become evident in this decade that the Executive Branch of Government has usurped powers not specifically granted to it by the Constitution. By stacking the Supreme Court with a majority of one political element, the Supreme Court has become moot. It continues to vote in favor of a single political party and not necessarily of the nation. As an example, rights for immigrants (legal or illegal), are being eroded in the name of Homeland Security, a creation of the Executive Branch. The authority over these rights have been shifted to the Attorney General’s Office, a political division appointed by the President, which is making the rules and regulations on its own without proper Judicial Review. .

Without much fanfare, last week, Attorney General John Ashcroft declared in a legal opinion that most illegal immigrants can be jailed indefinitely without bond when national security risks exist! The establishment of what a national security risk is has not been defined, nevertheless the Attorney General is acting, unchecked. One check upon our system has been eroded.

The poster child for this law was David Joseph, a Haitian seeking asylum. Joseph was among 216 Haitians who arrived in Miami, by leaping from a boat and running along a major causeway. It was determined, by the Homeland Security Department, that Joseph was a national security risk and denied bail. But according to Immigrant right’s groups they see this action more as a deterrent to discourage future Haitian refugees, having nothing to do with homeland security!

In another move to limit immigrant’s rights the Supreme Court upheld a seven-year-old federal law that says immigrants, including permanent residents, who have committed certain crimes must be detained while the federal government decides whether to deport them. This decision puts the nation’s estimated 11 million permanent resident immigrants, “green card” holders, on notice that if they commit certain “aggravated’ offenses of “moral turpitude” they will serve their sentences – and then be locked up again by immigration authorities if removal proceedings against them are pending, denying them a bail hearing.

In this decision South Korea-born Hyung Joon Kim, who has lived in the U.S. since he was six, was convicted of first-degree burglary for stealing from a tool shed in 1996and “petty theft with priors” in 1997. After serving two years of a three-year sentence he was then arrested by immigration authorities. After three months in jail waiting for a deportation hearing, Kim petitioned to be released on bail. Bail was set at $5000. Kim, now a junior majoring in business administration at San Jose State University, faces a return to detention.

When the members of the Legislature are in the majority of one party, another check to balance abuse of power is removed. It is now obvious that the elected members of either Party vote to benefit their Party and not necessarily for what is best for the Nation.

Under consideration in the U.S. Congress, is the Patriot Act II, there are provisions that would enable the Justice Department to deport, deny legal residence and even strip the citizenship of immigrants, with virtually no oversight or checks and balances.

The Bill of Rights and Constitution at one time guaranteed the rights of all individuals within the United States, but under the guise of Homeland Security these rights are being eroded, creating a caste system. Equally disturbing is that the civil rights and Constitutional rights are now being determined by the Homeland Security Department, usurping the Congress and Senate, and being enforced by the Attorney General. Homeland Security is important, but is more important than the Bill of Rights and the Constitution of the United States? When one political Party controls the Legislative Branch, the Executive Branch, and the Judiciary Branch, do we any longer have a Democracy?????

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