The Fifth Amendment, as well as the Fourteenth Amendment, protects every alien from deprivation of life, liberty, or property without due process of law. Even one whose presence in this country is unlawful, involuntary, or transitory is entitled to that constitutional protection.
Certain resident aliens instituted a class action in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida, challenging the constitutionality of the provisions of the Social Security Act, which grants eligibility for the Medicare supplemental medical insurance program to resident citizens who are 65 or older, but which denies eligibility to aliens, 65 or older, unless they have been admitted for permanent residence and also have resided in the country for at least five years. The three-judge District Court entered judgment for the plaintiffs, holding that the residency requirement violated the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment. Since it could not be severed from the requirement of admission for permanent residence, the alien eligibility provisions were entirely unenforceable.
Is the residency requirement of the Social Security Act violative of the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment and therefore unconstitutional?
The Court held that Congress had no constitutional duty to provide all aliens with benefits provided to citizens, and that the alien eligibility provisions of 1395o(2) did not deprive aliens who did not meet the eligibility requirements of liberty or property without due process of law under the Fifth Amendment, since it was reasonable for Congress to make an alien's eligibility depend on both the character and the duration of his residence. Moreover, the statutory classification drew a line qualifying those aliens who might reasonably be presumed to have a greater affinity to the United States.