Q: Did the Supreme Court rule that immigrants living in the U.S. illegally can’t sue anyone if they feel they’ve been mistreated?
A: No. That claim was made in a bogus story published on satirical and fake news websites.
The Supreme Court has not ruled that “illegal aliens … do not, in effect, possess the right to sue anyone in case they feel abused or mistreated.”
Versions of that bogus claim were made in posts on at least 12 websites in May and June. Facebook users flagged one of the posts, published on DailyInsiderNews.com, as potentially fake news.
Daily Insider News, June 10: Today [the Supreme Court] came out with a major decision about the illegal aliens, ruling that they do not, in effect, possess the right to sue anyone in case they feel abused or mistreated. President Trump wins this decision by a simple 5-4 majority voting [sic] along partisan lines.
According to the The Politcal [sic] Tribune, the right-leaning Court one more time showed the United States that those illegal immigrants are first and foremost, illegal, hence should not have the same rights as natural born, or naturalized U.S. citizens.
That implies if somebody’s arrested, and appears to be illegal, he does not have the right to a federal nor a private attorney, nor to a speedy trial in America.
It’s bogus. None of the Supreme Court’s rulings this term support the story’s claims. Many of the websites that ran the story are repeat fake news offenders.
We’ve previously debunked posts on USAPoliticsToday.com, ConsNation.com and WashingtonFeed.com, to name a few. And FreedomCrossroads.us, which also posted the story, is a satirical website. Its “about us” page says, “Freedom Crossroads uses facts that don’t exist and relies more on imagination than the truth. In fact, there is likely no truth at all in what you will read here.”
Some believed the made-up story, but others saw through it. One commenter on liberty-courier.com — which ran the story under the headline “BREAKING: Supreme Court Reversal Gives Trump A HUGE Win Over Illegals! — wrote: “Notice that there is no case cited, a dead giveaway that the story is fake. When have you ever seen a legitimate story on a SCOTUS ruling that doesn’t name the case? Or at least touch on the points argued? The headline calls it a reversal. Reversal of what? We aren’t told. No sources are cited.” All good points that we have made in “How to Spot Fake News.”
A visitor on scout.com posted the fake story on the Ohio State University sports page and was challenged by another reader to produce evidence. That “evidence” turned out to be a Feb. 21 NPR article that said the Supreme Court will rule — not has ruled — on whether Mexican nationals have the right to sue a U.S. border agent who shot and killed an unarmed 15-year-old Mexican boy on Mexico’s side of the U.S. border fence.
And the Supreme Court still hasn’t issued a ruling. On June 26, the Supreme Court sent the case back to an appeals court, which made a mistake in its earlier decision, the high court ruled.
Immigrants in the U.S. illegally do have the right to file lawsuits if they feel they’ve been mistreated, legal experts told us.
In an email to FactCheck.org, Sarah Paoletti, a practice professor of law at the University of Pennsylvania and director of the Transnational Legal Clinic, wrote, “All immigrants, regardless of their legal status within the country, are entitled to equal access to the courts and the right to petition before the courts if their rights have been violated or are being threatened in any way. U.S. federal and state law does not grant the right to sue or the right to defend oneself in court based on citizenship status.”
In Zadvydas v. Davis, Justice Stephen Breyer wrote in his 2001 majority opinion that “once an alien enters the country, the legal circumstance changes, for the Due Process Clause applies to all ‘persons’ within the United States, including aliens, whether their presence is lawful, unlawful, temporary, or permanent.”
Editor’s note: FactCheck.org is one of several organizations working with Facebook to help identify and label viral fake news stories flagged by readers on the social media network.
“Supreme Court Moves With Major Reversal On Illegal Immigrant ‘Rights’.” DailyInsiderNews.com. 10 Jun 2017.
Warren, Alexander. “BREAKING: Supreme Court Reversal Gives Trump A HUGE Win Over Illegals!” Liberty-courier.com. 3 May 2017.
“Supreme Court Reversal Gives Trump A HUGE Win Over Illegals!” Consnation.com. 2 May 2017.
Strouse, Aaron. “BREAKING: Supreme Court Reversal Gives Trump An AMAZING Present And A Win Over Illegal Aliens.” ThePoliticalTribune.com. 10 Jun 2017.
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Totenberg, Nina. “Supreme Court To Decide If Mexican Nationals May Sue For Border Shooting.” NPR. 21 Feb 2017.
Burnett, John, and Kennedy, Merrit. “Supreme Court Sends Cross-Border Shooting Case Back To Lower Court.” NPR. 26 Jun 2017.
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“Disclaimer.” Consnation.com. Accessed 27 Jun 2017.
Paoletti, Sarah, practice law professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. Email sent to FactCheck.org on 29 Jun 2017.
Legal Information Institute. “Zadvydas v. Davis.” Accessed 27 Jun 2017.