Defending the Rights of the Undocumented: A Challenge to the Civil Rights Movement and Local Governments


The passage of the the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 and the practices of the INS have forced the civil rights movement to take up the defense of the undocumented and to look to local governments to play an important role in that defense. Those of us who profess to protect civil rights cannot afford once again to discriminate against some arbitrarily selected group of persons living in the United States in order to protect other, somehow “more deserving” or “true” Americans. The civil rights movement can ill afford to treat undocumented persons as it treated Japanese Americans during World War II. Similarly, it cannot regret its error only when too many years have passed to rectify the problem.

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