Source : http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2013/08/immigration-reformers-are-winning-august/278873/Last week, the Tea Party Patriots and NumbersUSA, two groups opposed to “amnesty” legislation, heavily publicized a rally in Richmond, Virginia, featuring Steve King, the firebrand Republican congressman who recently claimed most undocumented youth are physically fit drug mules. But only a few dozen people showed up — far short of the hundreds organizers had planned for. Journalists posted photos of a lonely-looking King under a gazebo in a mostly empty public park.
Here’s a conversation I had on the topic, mostly with one guy who’s against forgiving undocumented immigrants and comes up with all kinds of (poor) reasons to support his position.
Wrong Guy: I’m not interested in forgiving lawbreakers. Lawful immigrants are always welcome. There should never be a place in America for individuals who are content to break our laws just to get here.
We already have enough politicians.
Chris: I want to provide amnesty and a path to citizenship through service for everyone already here (excepting those convicted of serious crimes) and an open immigration process for allowing promising people into the United States and onto a citizenship path provided they follow the rules of the path.
The United States has plenty of room for growth in population and we need the new blood and fresh ideas of people from other nations.
Wrong Guy: Yeah, and we can get plenty of all of those things from the legal immigrants that respect our laws and borders. We don’t need the criminal element that doesn’t respect the aforementioned. We can send them back to their respective countries.
Chris: We need to let the people who are here and have worked honorably stay here and serve our nation in the military, teaching, or something else, to gain citizenship. All people born here should have to go through the same thing.
Most of the people in this nation who whine about “immigrants” have never served this nation. They expect special treatment just because they were lucky enough to be born here.
I’ve noticed that the people who’ve sacrificed for this nation are generally far more accepting of others who want to be here badly enough to sacrifice for the privilege. I served in the Army Infantry and in law enforcement, and I’ve seen how great we have it here, how difficult life is in many other nations, and that the general character of so-called “illegals” is at least as good as those born here.
Wrong Guy: If we gave everyone a free pass, then there would be no need for things like a code of laws. But we don’t. We have rules and laws for a reason – they are the backbone of a just, fair and equitable society.
By allowing some to be “more equal than others”, as a hack writer once ineloquently put it, we create disparity – unfairness – in the way the law is applied.
We especially cannot allow emotion to cloud our judgment. It IS heartbreaking how some people have allowed their countries to become rather unpleasant (to say it mildly in some cases), but great countries are made with great people AND great effort. It would be cruel to perpetuate that cycle by luring away a country’s greatest people by tacitly allowing them to break the law and face no penalty… when the vast majority of our own citizens are not afforded such an opportunity.
The law applies equally in the United States. Is that not our supreme goal?
Chris: I am not proposing that anyone, including people born in this nation, get a free pass. We already make some people in this nation “more equal than others” in several ways, automatic citizenship being one of them.
Giving or denying rights based on chance is inherently unjust. People should be welcome in the United States based on their character, which includes criminal activity or lack thereof, and their willingness to sacrifice for the good of the nation.
I agree with Gandhi that “An unjust law is itself a species of violence. Arrest for its breach is more so.” I cannot see a moral justification for arresting people who came to this nation to work and make a better life for themselves. They are doing what the best of us would do in their position. To cast them out because they lack some paperwork or were born in one place rather than another is a violation of the most basic moral principles and a betrayal of the national ideal inscribed on our Statue of Liberty.
Third Guy: To propose denying legalization to people that has been working in the country for years without committing a crime just because they stayed illegally is like proposing to remove citizenship to naturalized citizens just because they fail to stop at a red traffic light… both “crimes” are equivalents… just misdemeanors not crimes at all…
Wrong Guy: That’s the problem though, Third Guy – they DID break the law. In the vast majority of cases, it isn’t even a “chance” violation.
Now, it’s exceptionally diffiicult to argue that a significant number of improper entrants violated US Code through anything othere than their own volition. It is not, nor has it ever been, the mission or goal of the United States to singlehandedly care for the world’s human population. But we do, in the spirit of humanity, open our borders to a veritable avalanche of LAWFUL immigrants each year.
These are good, upstanding citizens that followed the rules, earned their way into what many seem to believe is a “better life”. Would it be fair to them – or us – to take what they have earned and give it to someone who chose to disrespect our laws and borders?
That’s like asking a homeowner to accommodate a squatter in their home. Which, of course, is ridiculous.
Chris: Wrong Guy, how do you morally justify denying some people a place in this nation while welcoming others, all due to chance?
You are ignoring the central question I’ve stated several times above and again just now. What specific set of criteria makes certain people more worthy to live here than others? Certainly automatic citizenship for those born into a citizen family is a tradition dating back to classical Greece. But tradition obviously does not imply justice, given the many inhumane traditions we are still trying to rid ourselves of.
I would love to see a valid moral justification for this practice of excluding people based on their place of birth. Exclusion of people from outside your tribe is clearly a relic from a distant age, when resources were so scarce that a few extra people in a group were unsustainable. We are far from a true lifeboat situation today. I know that one day we’ll look back on this practice as yet another hateful relic of our primitive origins. Why not end it today?
I think your squatter analogy is more than a little absurd, and I think you realize that too.
My last comment ended the conversation, or at least Wrong Guy never replied to it. I doubt Wrong Guy changed his mind, but maybe he’ll spend a little time thinking about the justification most people use for treating “foreigners” differently than people born in a nation. The central question is whether it can be morally justified, outside of a lifeboat situation, to treat people differently and give or withhold basic human rights based on chance.