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Episode Overview (02:37)


This episode of “The Constitution: That Delicate Balance” examines issues related to immigration reform. Can this nation of immigrants deny opportunity to the latest newcomers? How many immigrants can our country absorb?

Boat of Refugees (06:10)

Moderator Benno Schmidt describes a scenario in which a boat full of refugees is spotted off the coast of Florida. Doris Meissner of the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service describes the circumstances under which these immigrants might be allowed into the country. Attorneys Michael Posner and other panelists offer views on how they should be treated.

Getting Tough on Haitians (03:17)

Journalist Guillermo Martinez, Attorney Michael Posner, and other panelists describe this evolution of policy and debate the reasons for the harder line taken against an influx of Haitian immigrants than Cuban ones in the 1980s.

Detention and Right to a Hearing (11:37)

Haitian boats reach Florida in Schmidt’s scenario. Meissner, U.S. Attorney Rudy Giuliani and other panelists describe the rights these immigrants have now that the have arrived in the U.S. Is detaining them without the commission of a crime a violation of due process? Do our laws encourage illegal immigration?

What Rights Do Illegal Immigrants Have? (01:38)

What rights should be extended to illegal immigrants? And who is responsible for sorting out society’s responsibility to immigrants that are here illegally—legislatures or the courts?

Porous Southern Border (11:39)

Meissner describes how immigrants typically sneak across the border, dangers they face and what happens when they are caught. Discussion turns to factors influencing the upward trend in illegal immigration. Panelists debate the merits of sanctions against employers who knowingly hire illegals.

Illegal Immigration's Impact on Labor (07:33)

Labor leader Peter Allstrom argues that employers can pay illegal immigrants less than minimum wage and otherwise treat them poorly because of their legal status; this, in turn, depresses the wages of other workers. Panelist debate whether racial profiling is a side effect of sweep searches conducted at workplaces suspected of employing illegals.

Public Assistance and Entitlement Access (10:28)

Should illegal immigrants be able to access public assistance and entitlement programs? The panel discusses ethical dilemmas and challenges related to this question, reasons for mass migration and the possibility of building a border wall. Judge Arlin Adams explains the Supreme Court’s 1982 ruling in Plyler v. Doe, that the children of illegal immigrants should have access to a public education.

Credits: Immigration Reform (01:44)

Credits: Immigration Reform

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Immigration Reform

Part of the Series : Constitution: That Delicate Balance
3-Year Streaming Price: $169.95



The rights of legal and illegal aliens to employment and to medical and educational services are debated by U.S. Court of Appeals judge Arlin Adams, Notre Dame president Rev. Theodore Hesburgh, immigration officials and journalists.

Length: 58 minutes

Item#: BVL160420

Copyright date: ©1984

Closed Captioned

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