Perhaps because the concept was so novel, founding father John Jay— president of the Continental Congress, minister to Spain and Great Britain, governor of New York, first chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court—was very, very concerned with the importance of the rights and privileges of citizenship. He wrote in 1793’s Chisholm v. Georgia that,

The people are Sovereign. … at the Revolution, the sovereignty devolved on the people; and they are truly the sovereigns of the country, but they are sovereigns without subjects… with none to govern but themselves; the citizens of America are equal as fellow citizens, and as joint tenants in the sovereignty.

This makes it terribly ironic then that the college named in his honor, the City University of New York’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice is now being accused of displaying a particular bias against noncitizens applying to work at the school. According to an article by Nina Bernstein in the New York Times:

The Justice Department filed a lawsuit on Friday against John Jay College of Criminal Justice, alleging that the school engaged in a pattern of job discrimination against noncitizens who were authorized to work.

The lawsuit…says the college violated provisions of immigration law by demanding extra work authorization from at least 103 individuals since 2007, rather than accepting the work-eligibility documents required of citizens, like a Social Security card and a driver’s license.

So, in effect, it looks like the school made it harder for noncitizens to get and keep jobs at the school, even when they were fully qualified and authorized to be employed at the school.

According to the article, the John Jay College matter looks to be the Justice Department’s first case in years concerning immigration-related discrimination against noncitizens.[Image via]

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Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer