Federal Judge Rules Second Amendment Protects Illegal Migrants

On March 8, U.S. District Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman — an appointee of Barack Obama — determined that the federal law preventing illegal immigrants from owning firearms is unconstitutional. This ruling emerged from the prosecution of Heriberto Carbajal-Flores, who was arrested in 2020 for carrying a semi-automatic firearm despite his illegal status in the United States.

The court’s decision was heavily influenced by the Supreme Court’s 2022 New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen ruling, which emphasized that firearm regulations must align with the nation’s historical tradition of firearm control. Carbajal-Flores, with no previous felony or violent crime convictions, contended that he obtained the firearm purely for self-defense during a period of civil unrest. The ruling led to immediate and widespread discussion, particularly among supporters of the Second Amendment and those concerned with border security and immigration policies.

Critics of the decision argue that this decision could undermine national security and encourage illegal immigration, as it seems to grant rights typically reserved for citizens or legal residents. In her ruling, Judge Coleman compared the situation to historical exceptions allowed for British loyalists during the American Revolution. She essentially held that individualized analysis must dictate firearm possession rights rather than blanket prohibitions based on immigration status.

This case raises significant questions about who qualifies as “the people” under the Constitution. The debate has extended into the Second Amendment community. Some argue that illegal immigrants, having entered the country unlawfully, should not be granted the same rights as law-abiding citizens or those who have entered the country legally.

However, others contend that once within U.S. borders, individuals should be afforded natural rights regardless of immigration status. They argue that historical practices and the Constitution’s language support a more inclusive interpretation of “the people.”

This ruling not only deepens the divide over gun rights but also intertwines with the heated debate over immigration policies and border security. As the lower courts continue to interpret the Supreme Court’s Bruen decision, the definition of “the people” remains central to the ongoing debate over the Second Amendment and its application.

The case underscores the intersection of immigration policy and gun rights, two highly polarizing issues. Experts believe the federal government will appeal the decision to defend the law prohibiting gun possession by illegal migrants. The impending arguments before federal appeals courts and possibly the Supreme Court will point out the ongoing challenge of balancing historical traditions and adapting to contemporary challenges.