Judge rules illegal migrants can carry guns


A federal judge in Illinois earlier this month ruled that a Mexican man who was living in the U.S. illegally had a constitutional right to own a firearm for self-defense.

In her ruling, U.S. District Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman dismissed charges against Heriberto Carbajal-Flores, who was arrested in 2020 for violating a federal law that prohibits undocumented immigrants from possessing guns.

“Carbajal-Flores contends that he received and used the handgun solely for self-protection and protection of property during a time of documented civil unrest in the Spring of 2020,” the Northern District of Illinois judge wrote in her ruling.

The ruling sets up a potential Supreme Court case to determine the extent of Second Amendment rights for an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States. The high court has issued a series of rulings over the past 15 years that have expanded gun rights.

“Congress would have to be a little bit more powerful here because there’s no question that the Constitution applies to people who are not here illegally,” said Shanlon Wu, a former federal prosecutor in a Tuesday interview on NewsNation’s “On Balance.” “The problem here is you need to draw the statute more narrowly.”

Johnson Coleman, an appointee of former President Barack Obama, cited the summer of 2020 when unrest and violence swept across Chicago and other U.S. cities amid protests over police brutality.

Court documents show Carbajal-Flores fired his handgun at moving vehicles when he believed looters were approaching his neighborhood after police warned of potential threats. He had no prior criminal record.

Justice Clarence Thomas, in the court’s majority opinion regarding one gun-rights case, emphasized that the Second Amendment’s protections extend to individual conduct, creating a presumption that applies regardless of legal status. However, Wu suggested that Congress could clarify the law to explicitly prohibit migrants from possessing firearms.

Wu pointed out the tension between federal and state laws, noting that disparate rulings could lead to further legal complexities.