Law determines an American

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UFT Vice President Richard Mantell [“What is an American?” VPrespective, May 4] gives what professes to be a working Merriam Webster dictionary definition of the word “American”: “a native or inhabitant of any of the United States.” He argues for an “expansive view” of “American” to counter a narrow view, resulting from intolerance.

Yet, Mantell’s approach does nothing to allay justifiable suspicion toward those who don’t owe allegiance to our nation, who won’t assimilate or whose presence here is otherwise suspect — important matters he doesn’t even allude to.

The Merriam Webster 2017 edition I perused defines the word “American” in the first instance, as “a native or citizen of the United States.” The same dictionary defines “inhabitant” as “one that occupies a particular place regularly, routinely, or for a period of time.”

A crucial distinction exists between a U.S. citizen and an alien (inhabitant) residing on our soil unlawfully.

Such aliens are not Americans, whatever they may think about themselves and whatever others might think about them. They are not entitled to the full panoply of rights and liberties and protections accorded to citizens of our nation, under our Constitution. This is not conjecture on my part. It is law, as the Supreme Court ruled in United States v. Verdugo-Urquidez (1990).

The law is predicated on the right and duty of a nation to maintain the integrity of its geographical borders, to protect its citizenry, to enforce its immigration laws and to safeguard its national identity. This is as it should be.

Stephen L. D’Andrilli, retired

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