Tim Dunkin: Conservatives Must Demand Honesty on Immigration Issues

It is a truism that the American news media, and the Left in general, routinely lie to the people. There are few places where this is truer than in the national discussion about topics related to immigration. Day in and day out, we are subjected to the organized mendacity of the open-borders crowd in academia, the media, and in our political system. Typically, the average American conservative allows him or herself to be cowed by the lies – often shrilly shrieked – and does not stand up against them. Too often, conservatives go with the flow on immigration issues because they don’t want to be perceived as “the bad guy” by those who refuse to think for themselves, but instead let the Left do the thinking for them. This needs to stop. If we’re to see the effort to roll back the tide of illegal immigration and to restore some sanity to our immigration policy, then we need to start changing the game by counteracting the lies.

The first place where honesty about this issue is needed is in dealing with the purposeful conflation of illegal immigration with legal. This type of dishonesty is ubiquitous. It seems you can’t have any kind of discussion about this issue without some nattering nabob popping up and reminding us all that “we’re a nation of immigrants” while warning us not to “close down Ellis Island.” True enough, we are a nation of immigrants - legal immigrants. People who came here the right way. People who obeyed America’s immigration laws. People who respected the right of the United States of America to act as a sovereign entity by regulating who was allowed to participate in the American experiment, and under what terms they were allowed to join our polity. Today, we still have thousands who come to our shores each year, and who do it the right way. They do not break out laws and breach our sovereignty as a nation. Comparing their situation with that of people who sneak into America, who laugh at our laws, and who wipe their feet on our sovereignty is grossly deceitful.

Illegal immigration is such because it is, well, illegal. Ultimately, when you get right down to it, the issue is one that revolves around the rule of law. America is, or was at least intended to be, a nation of laws. That’s the whole point to constitutionalism – the actions of the government AND the people are restrained by a foundational law (in our case, the Constitution) from which all other laws derive their legitimacy, and (theoretically, at least) the violation of which renders a law null and void. We were never intended to be a nation ruled by men – either by the men in government (i.e. the tyranny of dictatorship) or by the momentary whim of the people at large (i.e. the tyranny of mob democracy). We are ruled by laws, which were intended to be crafted by a legislature representative of the people and their interests, but acting in their own wisdom to best represent those interests in a constitutional fashion.

This applies to immigration. Our nation makes laws determining who can come here, for how long, and to what extent they are allowed to participate in our society, within our geographical boundaries. As such, we can choose whether to give you a visa that will allow you to become a permanent resident and participate in our economy by being able to get a job, or we can restrict you to being a tourist, here for a few weeks at most. We get to determine how and when you can join our nation as a citizen. This is entirely in keeping with the commonwealthianism of John Locke’s political philosophy that underlay the thinking of our Founders. If you violate that, then it is perfectly legitimate for us to find, arrest, and deport you back to your country of origin.

This brings me to another point that is often obfuscated in the debate over illegal immigration. I alluded to it above, which is that the decision as to whether you get to come into our country, and what the terms of that residency are, belongs to us. Not you. We get to make the decision. We do not make such determinations arbitrarily, but because it is our right – legal and moral – as a sovereign nation to do so. Your desire to come to the United States, in and of itself, is completely irrelevant. The demand by your home country’s government that we let you in is equally irrelevant. That’s what “national sovereignty” is all about. If you are a foreign national, you have no legal right to be in the United States of America unless we grant you that right, under whatever conditions we choose to attach to it.

This leads to yet another dishonest and asinine assertion of the illegal immigration-supportive crowd – that illegal immigrants somehow “deserve” to be here. That it’s “heartless” for us to take steps to send them home and make sure they stay there. These arguments assume that not only do foreign nationals somehow have a legal right to enter our country in contravention to our laws, but that they also have a moral right to do so. That we are obligated to allow them to enter our nation illegally. I assure you, we are not. Just as none of us should have to be obligated to provide financial support to a complete stranger against our will (i.e. the welfare state), so also is the United States under no obligation, for example, to act as a “safety valve” for Mexico’s failing-state social and economic policies by allowing its excess population to cross our southern border illegally. Instead, if there is any sort of a moral obligation, its onus is upon the Mexican government to clean up its act, end the corruption, and start working towards being the kind of country that 1/3 of its population doesn’t desperately want to escape. Remember Robert Frost’s line, “Good fences make good neighbors?” Maybe it’s time we start demanding that Mexico be a good neighbor.

Oh, one other thing, since the Left also perpetuates the lie that deportation is some sort of terrible human rights abuse. Try researching how Mexico treats people from Central America who cross its southern border. That’s where you will find the human rights abuses.

What of the situations whereby illegal immigrants cross our border for the purpose of having a baby in the USA, so as to take advantage of the prevailing insane interpretation of the 14th amendment’s birth citizenship clause? Surely it’s heartless for us to break up families by deporting illegal parents, is it not? Again, this is nothing but argument by emotion. First, we should expect that people will have to take responsibilities for their own actions. In this case, it means expecting illegal immigrant parents to accept responsibility for the fact that their family, if it is indeed to be broken up, has seen this happen because of their own irresponsible actions. The fault is not with the American government or the American people for expecting foreign nationals to respect our laws or deal with the consequences.

However, this matter can be resolved simply by applying a more common sense understanding of the 14th Amendment, Section 1. The relevant verbiage reads,

“All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.”

Notice the italicized portion – “and subject to the jurisdiction thereof.” A child of a foreign national who is here illegally is not “subject to the jurisdiction of” the United States because his or her parents are not. The child’s parents are neither citizens nor legal residents of this country, and therefore the child should not (despite what the courts have said) have American citizenship. This can be explicitly understood as one of the original intents of the amendment’s author and supporters. Senator Jacob Howard, of Michigan, who authored the amendment, said that the amendment excluded “persons born in the United States who are foreigners, aliens, who belong to the families of ambassadors or foreign ministers.” Notice from his usage that a person could still be classified as a “foreigner” and “alien” despite having been born in the United States. This usage is right in line with the traditional “natural-born” requirement for US citizenship that had been held for several decades prior to this amendment’s inception. Howard also defined the jurisdiction mentioned in the amendment as “the same jurisdiction in extent and quality as applies to every citizen of the United States now.” In other words, it only applied to the same extent as the then-prevailing “natural born” view did for everyone else. In other words, it basically guaranteed you American citizenship if your parents were citizens. The purpose of the amendment was to guarantee citizenship rights to freed black slaves whose families had been in this country, in many cases, longer than many of the surrounding whites, but who might have been denied this benefit by resentful whites in southern states. It was never intended to give citizenship to anyone and everyone whose parents managed to get across our borders before going into labor.

Yet, the falsehood that citizenship is guaranteed by the accident of geography prevails both in the media-driven discourse on this issue, and in the leftist-dominated judiciary. This is something that needs to be rectified, and the means of doing that is to have Congress clarify by law what the amendment means, rather than leaving it to the courts to interpret. Congress has this power, it merely needs to use it.

So, how does this apply to the question of split families caused by illegals coming here to bear children? Well, a rational approach to the 14th Amendment would solve the problem by simply noting that none of the family – children any more than parents – are American citizens to begin with, and hence, can be returned to their country of origin as a family unit.

Another falsehood that we hear is that opposition to illegal immigration is driven by racism. Opponents of illegal immigration merely hate Latinos, their animus towards people with brown skin is what motivates them. Presumably, we would be entirely cool with 20 million Canadians crossing our northern border and dragging down our wage scale, since those folks are white as Wonder Bread.

This argument has no merit. It is based upon emotion and assumption. It is ultimately built around the attempt by the one making it to muzzle those who rightly argue against illegal immigration. It assumes that there can only be one reason for opposing this lawbreaking, and that this reason must be a terrible, horrible one at that. As with just about every other argument the Left makes, the charge of “racism” will invariably enter in, simply because those on the Left really have no other argument they can make. Reason destroys their positions, so emotion-mongering is all they have left. It is to be rejected on its face, and its purveyor should be subjected to a scathing repetition of the various common sense reasons for opposing illegal immigration. In our turn, conservatives need to learn to steel themselves against the charge and not fold up like pocketknives when it is used. Quit ye like men, people!

Oh, and it may come as a surprise to many of those on the Left that the views about illegal immigration, and immigration in general, held by Latinos who are American citizens virtually mirror those of white Americans. The dirty little secret that the self-appointed Latino “leadership” and racist groups like La Raza don’t want us to know is that your average American citizen of Latino heritage is just as opposed to illegal immigration as his white neighbors are. This makes sense. After all, illegal immigration takes jobs away from and depresses the wage scale of all Americans, regardless of their race or the national origin of their ancestors. American Latinos suffer from this as much as anyone else does. Despite the best efforts of the race-baiting elites to turn this into a cause for racial grudgery, it simply isn’t working with those Latinos who are legal residents or genuine citizens of these United States.

The recent enforcement law that was passed and signed in Arizona is a good example of how the Left pulls out all the stops when it wants to lie about and demonize something or someone it disagrees with. This law is an enforcement bill, nothing more. It directs police agencies in Arizona to do essentially the same thing that federal police agencies such as the ICE already should be doing. The federal government already has the exactly same laws pertaining to inquiry and enforcement regarding illegal immigration as the Arizonan law stipulates – it merely fails to enforce them. In effect, Arizona is merely offering to enforce the federal government’s laws for it, since it apparently is unwilling to do so itself.

First of all, this is not unconstitutional, as some on the Left are trying to argue. Indeed, opponents of the law who take this tack appear to be trying to cast it as some sort of attempt at “nullification,” and argue that federal law supersedes state law. The problem with that argument is that Arizona has, in fact, done the exact opposite of nullification. Its new law affirms federal law, in both a legal and an explicit sense. It is not superseding federal law in the least. Its effect is essentially to authorize Arizonan police agencies to enforce the laws existing in the US Code. How can a state law which explicitly affirms federal law fail to be entirely constitutional, from a federalism perspective?

The next lie told about the Arizona enforcement law is that it enables Arizonan police to act as some sort of Gestapo, able to racially profile and harass anyone with brown skin. Again, no. The police can only make inquiries about immigration status if they already have reasonable suspicions about you – suspicions that exist because you have broken some other law that has already brought you into contact with a police agency. The notion that Arizonan police are going to be going around busting peoples’ doors down in the middle of the night, and dragging them out of their beds to check their papers is merely fantasy that exists in the fevered imaginations of open-borders Leftists and RINOs.

Indeed, the Left has made a lot of hay about how Arizona’s police can now “check your papers.” Well guess what? You (theoretically) have to “show your papers” every time you want to open up a bank account, take out a home loan, use a credit card, or obtain a pistol permit. In other words, being asked to provide proof of identification, to affirm that you are indeed who you say you are, is nothing new. Certainly, the extent and reach of this Arizona law is no more intrusive than that which your own bank or other institutions subject us to.

In summary, conservatives need to start challenging the Left, the RINOs, and the news media when they perpetuate these lies about immigration. Don’t put up with it. Write letters. Make phone calls. Contradict the mouthpieces out there who spout the talking points put out by the open borders crowd. Talk to your friends and neighbors and correct the deficiencies in the information they are receiving about this issue. We cannot continue to allow the news media and the Left to define and determine the terms and direction of the debate over this issue. The future of our country really, truly does rest on what is done regarding the issue of illegal immigration – either we get serious about ending it or we roll over and accede to yet another amnesty which will continue to push this country over the cliff of socialism and balkanism.