The case of the Supreme Court, which created the narrative of the “dreamer”.

The case was no less controversial when she appealed it and arrived at the U.S. Supreme Court. Although some archives show that most courts instinctively wanted to protect children, even the judges did not agree on how best to crystallize protection in marriage until weeks before the opinion was published. Even if undocumented children were “persons” within the meaning of Amendment 14, they should also be “inside [the] jurisdiction “of the United States to ensure equal protection, school district attorneys argued.

In the case law of the Supreme Court to date, it has been established that laws restricting an individual right on the basis of certain protected characteristics or identities must adopt a higher legal standard. The segregation statutes challenged in Brown v. Board of Education have been removed on this basis. According to Justin Driver, a professor at Yale Law School and author The door of the school house, racial classifications were under strict scrutiny – meaning they almost inevitably failed a difficult court test – but unauthorized immigrants were not yet considered part of a “suspicious class” such as children in brown.

In particular, the swing judge at the time, Lewis Powell, appointed Richard Nixon, was torn apart. Powell worked on the Richmond School Council in Virginia, even during the aftermath brown decision and passionate resistance against the power of the court. David Levi, Powell’s legal officer working on it Plyler case, he said in an interview that morning oral arguments, his phone rang on the table and on the other side of the line he heard the judge’s southern tug: “David, come talk to me.” The lawyer was still ambiguous.

“He told me he was inclined to think these kids needed help,” says Levi, who later served as chief justice of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California and is now a professor at Duke University Law School. “It wasn’t like we should have voted on whether they would come across the border or not, but here they are. And it is not in anyone’s interest to become a permanent subclass of the population. “

Powell’s personal correspondence, which is kept at the University of Washington & Lee Law School and reviewed Politiko Magazine, reveals that the judiciary received early drafts of a majority opinion from Progressive Judge William Brennan and that Powell ultimately persuaded Brennan to significantly narrow the scope of the opinion.

The Court could reasonably extend the protection of the Fourteenth Amendment to everything undocumented immigrants instead of just children, Driver says. In fact, it is clear from the correspondence that the court was considering enshrining such a postponement in the law. When Brennan sent the first draft of his opinion to Powell and the other judges in the majority he was trying to draw up, he left open the possibility that the protection that applies to legal residents would apply “even greater power” to undocumented residents because were part of a “discreet and isolated minority” that triggered more intensive judicial scrutiny.

But Powell, who had great influence as the fifth voice, saw undocumented adults as lawbreakers. “I couldn’t agree with that,” Brennan wrote in an early draft of his response. According to him, “any foreigner older than school … is guilty of a crime” and is subject only to appropriate procedure, not special protection under the law. Powell wrote that the draft was “quite broad” and that he hoped Brennan would write a new opinion, “so specifically focused on [children] that I can join her. “

The judges walked back and forth for the next six months, trying to reach a majority agreement. According to legal journalist Linda Greenhouse, Judges John Paul Stevens and Harry Blackmun suggested that Brennan could simply omit the reference to all undocumented people as part of a group of suspects. Instead, Brennan reformulated his view by unequivocally rejecting the claim that undocumented adults are part of a protected class. Satisfied, Powell wrote in his copy of the new opinion: “WJB has accepted the content of my views in this draft … I believe I can join.”

When the court issued its opinion 5–4, the Tyler families won on 15 June 1982, ensuring equal access to education for all undocumented children across the country. Moreover, the court articulated a basic legal principle that was not well regulated at the time: the constitution preserves for individuals certain rights that do not depend on their citizenship. “Where the constitution says‘ person ’, that means person. And that’s still not a lesson today, “says Thomas Saenz, the current president of MALDEF. (The opinion was not without objection: someone John Roberts – the future Chief Justice of the Court, who was then a lawyer for the Ministry of Justice – co-author of a communication to the U.S. Attorney General belittling the decision and arguing that the Department of Justice should file a short Texas page.)

But while the opinion was triumphant for undocumented people, it also excluded most of them, drawing a strict legal boundary between undocumented children and adults and the protection afforded to them by law. “We reject the claim that‘ illegal aliens ’are the‘ suspected class ’,” Brennan wrote in his final opinion, accepting Powell’s position. “Actually, entering a class is a crime in itself.”

Nevertheless, the Driver points to a special outcome Plyler example: whereas many hard-won civil rights cases have been resolved – on divorce, abortion, same-sex marriage po multi-year social movements, he says: “If anything, it seems to me that perhaps we could make a more credible argument that Plyler against deer helped with to produce social movement. “

A solid line connects Plyler to the Dreamer narrative today.

In the years following the decision, Plyler has earned the reputation of “the Brown v. Board undocumented immigrants, ”supports protection against anti-immigrant policies in countries. In 1994, for example, it was invoked by the Federal District Court of California Plyler when it intervened to prevent the implementation of proposal 187, a vote to deny undocumented immigrants benefits or public services, including K-12 education. But the case remained narrowly tailored. In the same country, students who sought to expand PlylerIn 1985, the protection of higher education was hampered.

In 2001, some in Congress decided to help undocumented students attend college. The Student Adaptation Act, introduced by Representative Chris Cannon (R-Utah), would provide immigrants under the age of 21 who intended to attend college and meet other requirements with relief from deportation and permanent residence. One source who participated in the early discussions on the bill, which was not authorized by the employer to speak to reporters, said immigrant rights groups emphasized the principles Plyler in discussions with legislators who supported the law. Other legislators, such as Luis Gutiérrez (D-Ill.), introduced immigration legislation with mostly similar goals.

Around the same time, Teresa Lee approached her Democratic Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois through a mentor who insisted she should go to college. At first, the response Durbin’s office provided from federal agencies was disappointing, Lee recalls: “These were government words – that he would still have to be deported back to his hometown, even if he had a cure for cancer.” But Durbin, Lee says, has admitted he can change the law. This exchange contributed to the creation of the DREAM Act, which Durbin co-introduced with Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) in 2001. The DREAM Act, the provisions of which accelerated previous student-centered laws and eventually expanded their coverage, was never passed as Congress was concerned with formulating the answer until the 9/11 attacks. But in 2006, as efforts on comprehensive immigration reform has stalled, Durbin stepped up his efforts for legislation by telling the stories of undocumented young immigrants – and explicitly addressing the ideals Plyler.

“Adults who enter our country illegally are responsible for their actions. They should be responsible. But undocumented children are different, ”Durbin said in the Senate. citation Plyler by name and quoting an opinion in an effort to win over immigrant skeptics. Undocumented children, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) Said the following year, “are technically illegal in status, but the Supreme Court has ruled that these children are not responsible for their parents’ actions … and recognizes that we deserve when we discriminate against them. ”

As the DREAM Act was reintroduced in various forms in the following years – which became the focal point of the Democrats ’immigration agenda – the narrative of the Dreamer increased. Prerna Lal, a previously undocumented immigration lawyer and tax attorney in California, said the term “dreamer” took hold in thriving online blogs and chat rooms that day, a rare scene where undocumented people felt safe enough to tell their opinion, especially as new. forms of nativism emerged after 9/11 and undocumented people, according to Lalo, faced “a lot of fear” and “a lot of loneliness”. On one of those online forums, United We Dream co-founder Cristina Jiménez, who was writing anonymously at the time about the progress of the DREAM Act in Congress, was first asked if she was a dreamer, she recalls. “I have a lot of articles in my personal archive where, for example, I am called an‘ illegal student ’,” he says. “It was a great relief for me to talk about my experience, which was not called illegal.”

Many organizers have adopted the Dreamer label. Some proved undocumented at public ceremonies. Others organized protests in hats and suits to highlight adulthood milestones that were unattainable. Still others transferred their activism to the state level, where initiatives such as the Arizona Proposition 300 in 2006 explicitly disabled undocumented students from schooling at the state level. telegenic and seemed harmless – a kind of view that we are exotic but safe, ”says José Magaña-Salgado, director of policy and communication for the Association of Presidents for Higher Education and Immigration, a coalition of university leaders working for immigration reform. By 2010, activists were public enough to be present in the Senate Chamber and able to view since the DREAM Act died, five votes are missing for adoption.

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