Mexican Nationals Get More Rights in America Than American Citizens?

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The case of Humberto Leal Garcia -- a Mexican national, by some reports an illegal alien, on death row in Texas -- is interesting to me primarily because of one claimed fact that I haven't been able to verify, but which has been repeated in many sources, such as The Daily Mail and FindLaw.

Most stories I've read say that the problem is that Leal Garcia was not notified, upon arrest, of his right to Mexican consular access. That may be so, and if so, it is a valid complaint for Garcia to make, although it should at most permit a new trial, and not -- as his defense now contends -- throwing out damning statements made before being arrested.

But apparently the crux of the matter is that he wasn't notified of his "right" to aid before he was taken into custody, a right no American has. If Americans confess to a crime before being taken into custody, having never been told our rights, we're up the creek without a paddle. But apparently a Mexican national -- even if here illegally -- has a right to be notified of his rights before being taken into custody.

Like I said, I cannot confirm all of this. I looked for, but did not find, the original Texas opinions, and apparently the Texas Supreme Court decision is unpublished. But if the case hinges on confessions made prior to arrest -- or even if statements are made after arrest, after being read his "Miranda" rights, but having never been notified of his Vienna "rights" -- then there's a big constitutional problem here, because our government, our laws, are giving a foreigner greater protection of the laws than American citizens get. That's a facial violation of the requirement in Amendment 14 to provide everyone equal protection of the laws, and it would nullify that provision of the Vienna treaty.

And yes, this could mean that Americans abroad will not get protections we want for them. But that is, by comparison to defense of the Constitution, irrelevant. If you don't want to take on the risks abroad, then don't go abroad. The Constitution's guarantee of equal protection matters infinitely more than what other countries may do in response to us following our laws.

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<pudge/*> (pronounced "PudgeGlob") is thousands of posts over many years by Pudge.

"It is the common fate of the indolent to see their rights become a prey to the active. The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt."

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This page contains a single entry by pudge published on July 7, 2011 8:11 AM.

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