I often hear Christian conservatives say that fundamental human natural rights are “God given”. For brevity, without getting into too much detail about the nature of natural rights and which ones actually exist, I will say that I basically agree with this. I’m not talking about “legal rights” listed by any particular man-run govt. Rights are not given by govt, instead we have them by the gracious gift of God, and a govt may or may not recognize such natural rights and may or may not “grant” them legally in its own particular laws. So far, so good, these conservatives and I probably agree. Now, what about the basic human right of freedom to move around and live in different places, and to go to various market places to trade and work? If I, a US citizen, wanted to move from Austin, TX to Dallas, TX and then also work and get a job in Dallas, but the Dallas City govt said I’m not allowed to do so, you and most people would probably say that the govt is being unjust and violating my fundamental rights of freedom to live and work where I please (so long as I do so through nonviolent, noncoercive, and mutually voluntary means, and some Dallas employer wishes to hire me).
So, what’s the difference between my case and the case of a, let’s say, Mexican named Juan, who wants to move to the US to work, besides the fact that he was born by chance outside of the US and is not a citizen? Is Juan not a person made by God and in God’s image? Did God decide to grant fundamental human rights only to people born within the US boundary, or to all people on Earth? If Juan also has these basic rights, isn’t the US govt violating those rights by restricting his freedom to move and work here? What does birthplace have to do with it?
As a separate example, what about Muslims who are merely SUSPECTED of terrorism. Many conservatives say that we don’t have to give them a fair trial, and that we can detain them (like at Guantanamo Bay) without trial or conviction, because they aren’t US citizens. Of course, the presumption of innocence (aka “innocent until proven guilty”, meaning you can’t punish someone just because you *suspect* that they did a crime, but you have to provide strong evidence to show guilt) and a fair trial are things these same conservatives would say are fundamental rights that US citizens have. So, do they think that God gave only US citizens these rights? Can some conservative explain these?