1. Should Immigrants crossing into the United States illegally be able to sue for "suspected" rights violations?
It's a safeguard of our legal system* that if, for some reason, the state prosecuting authorities do not press charges against an alleged criminal (all crimes are "alleged" against a person until a conviction is secured), the individual has the right to pursue them civilly. Because imprisonment is not a sentencing option in civil cases, damages are awarded against the "guilty" party.
The downside is that people can mischieviously file suit, costing their target time and money whether or not the case comes to court, and that sometimes such suits win and cost the targets a lot more than that. I think this would only apply to illegal immigrants if their bruises and cuts and other injuries are not real.
Nobody I can find is saying that these people have not really been beaten or abused, so I think it is reasonable to hold those responsible to account.
The Texas prosecuting authorities have not done this, for reasons obscure to me. Personally I think this would be the best solution - People of Texas vs Immigration Vigilantes
- but since it hasn't happened, I think it's reasonable for civil suit to be filed. The time to be worried is when such things are not allowed.
And while I entirely agree that illegal immigrants should be deported, their illegal status is dependent on their paperwork, not on their chosen method of migration. If they've got the appropriate visas and work permits and just want
to cross the border in an isolated rural spot on foot or in the back of a truck, that's their prerogative. Either way, they should only be deported once some form of legal tribunal has taken place that gives them a right to prove their innocence (even if very few are able to do so, due process should apply.)
*England and America are similar enough in this regard to consider them together. I say specifically "England" and not my more usual "Britain" because the Scottish legal system is somewhat different e.g. the third possible jury verdict of "not proven" in criminal cases.2. Considering their illegal status, what rights should illegal immigrants have in the eyes of the law?
The right to fair and humane treatment, and to due process of law, mainly.
As citizens, we recognise that fellow citizens who commit crimes automatically forfeit some of their basic rights by doing so - the right to liberty, for instance. But our legal system still guarantees them others, most particularly that any decisions on what to do with them shall be taken by the appropriate legal authorities. The extent of the involvement of ordinary citizens in this is (rightly) limited to jury service.
And we also recognise that legal
immigrants have the right to the full protection of the law - "negative" rights, if you like; their rights are mostly the right not to have certain things done to them (theft, assault, etc.) - but don't get some of the "positive" rights enjoyed by full citizens (the right to vote, for instance).
I don't see any particular point of principle in law or anywhere else that says that people (citizens or not) who have broken immigrations laws forfeit more rights than people (citizens or not) who break any other laws. Vigilantism is not encouraged against fraud, theft, burglary, or other non-violent crimes, so it should not be tolerated here.
But, you asked what rights do
QUOTE(Amendment XIV Clause 1 @ emphasis mine)
1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
This makes a distinction between a "citizen" and a "person" in such a way as to make it clear, to me at least, that a "person" has rights to life liberty and property and to the equal protection of law, and that a subset of "persons", namely "citizens" has further rights (enumerated elsewhere in the Constitution, and mostly to do with who can and cannot vote, stand for Congress or President, etc. ).
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
Taken together with Amendment IX, I think we can say with ample Constitutional backing that illegal immigrants, despite their status, qualify in every
meaningful way as legal persons, and therefore they have every
legal right guaranteed by the Constitution that does not specifically pertain to citizens.
That is to say, ANYONE and EVERYONE has ALL of the rights (and the responsibilities) of a US citizen while they are under US jurisdiction, except those regarding electoral procedures such as voting, standing for office, etc.
Prosecute illegal aliens for breaking immigration laws, by all means. If the penalty for guilt is deportation and a lifetime bar on entering the US legally, and they are found guilty, deport them and bar their future entry. Fine.
But nobody in America should be allowed to ill-treat them or violate any of the rights that America itself guarantees them under its own Consitution without facing the consequences.
I honestly can't see another way to read this, and I think it brings many current American attitudes and behaviours towards non-citizens (be they illegal immigrants, "enemy combatants" or foreign port-owning companies) into an unflattering and somewhat hypocritical light.