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April 30th, 2011
The Fallaciousness of Fairness in Immigration
photo credit: ajagendorf25
At today’s Utah County Republican Convention, a resolution was presented for consideration. This resolution stated an objection to HB116, a law that recently passed in Utah to create a guest worker program for “illegal immigrants,” and called for its repeal. Individuals from both sides of the issue were given ten minutes to present their case. Arguing in support of the resolution was Representative Chris Herrod, one of the state’s foremost advocates of enforcing current federal immigration laws.
I’ve written previously about one of Rep. Herrod’s arguments. I’ve read his book. I’ve seen his video. And while I don’t mean to pick on him, his decision to be a spokesman for this issue opens him to the criticism I continue to have against those who agree with and use his arguments.
The central argument Rep. Herrod uses to oppose HB116, “amnesty,” or the toleration or acceptance in any way of those here “illegally,” is that it is not “fair.” It’s not “fair” to people around the world, he argues, that those who live next to our country have easy access. Today’s presentation was supported with an accompanying slideshow presentation with graphs and statistics helping him make the case that we cannot be a true “melting pot” if we don’t have a “fair” distribution of immigrants’ countries of origin.
America, however, is not the melting pot Rep. Herrod thinks it is, or even should be. There is no master chef. Nobody has the authority to dictate what ingredients are allowed into the pot. We are not following a recipe. To envision otherwise is to embrace a centrally planned society wherein quotas are set, bureaucrats are arbitrarily empowered, and one individual can permissibly compel another not to use his property however he sees fit.
The immigration process “simply needs to be fair to everyone around the world,” Rep. Herrod argues. Is it fair to have to pay thousands of dollars and wait for years before possibly (but likely not) receiving permission to enter this country? Is it fair to have to prove to some government official that you love and are committed to your American spouse, and are not just married to get a green card? Is it fair to deny Americans their individual rights, preventing them from exchanging property or associating with whomever they please? Is it fair to justify a system of compulsion and regulation that tells peaceful, productive individuals where they can or cannot live, and with whom they may or may not engage in commerce?
Those who support enforcing federal immigration laws—and strictly—almost always will introduce the qualifier that they support making legal immigration easier and more simple. Yet they still support empowering the government to manage the immigration of individuals. How is this fair? At its simplest, this is one individual telling his neighbor that if he tries to rent out his basement to Juan from Honduras without permission, he will use aggression against the neighbor in response to that harmless act.
But Rep. Herrod’s consistent call for fairness in the immigration process begs the question: who gets to decide what is “fair”? What may be decided as fair, whether democratically voted upon or bureaucratically imposed, likely will not be seen as fair to those who still don’t like the outcome. Where does government derive its authority to set a “fair” standard of immigration at all? Why does it supposedly get to make the decisions as to which people can enter its boundaries, and which must remain in their country of origin?
Like the "fair trade" issue, this one smells of central planning and protectionism. Free trade, not “fair” trade, respects individual liberty. Free migration, not “fair” migration, also respects individual liberty.
No one person has the authority to determine a “fair” process for who can and cannot engage in business with another person, or rent his basement, or attend his school. It follows that the government cannot morally be delegated that power, as the individuals which comprise that government lack it themselves.
The “fair” ruse should be exposed for the statist fraud that it is. It is based not on the sound principle of individual liberty, but on the unstable and rotten soil of interventionism.
31 Responses to “The Fallaciousness of Fairness in Immigration”
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So, I am curious, do you support HB116? I think it is a fine plan, but won’t it do everything you are saying you hate in what Herrod is saying? I have not read the bill, but I would assume it puts caps on how many people can come, dictates what kind of people they need to be, require some sort of an employer to sponser them, etc. Are not all of these the same statist issues that we see from your argument? Don’t all of these things create “unfairness” in the way you are using the word?
On this one, I’m with you Connor. Herrod’s argument makes no sense, at least to me.
So I have read and was involved in the many immigration debates this past session. I approve of 116 not because it is a good, bill. In fact, i think it is a terribly written bill that must be fixed in many ways. It does however, set us on the right path toward a serious confrontation with the federal government that the repealers seem unable to grasp. That confrontation may actually lead to a better balance of federal and state power as we are much more likely to win a lawsuit against us than Arizona is with its catch and release program. The state has the right to manage its’ entire population while at the same recognizing we cannot provide a path to citizenship or deport anyone.
With that being said I cannot agree with the fairness argument as described here in any real measurable way. We cannot simply have an open door policy so long as the nanny style state we are becoming continues to grow. The open borders policy that was so easily used in the 19th century worked because people were significantly more responsible for their own well being; and federal spending to create safety nets was non existent. There is a balance to be achieved, but the current system is a complete failure and all of our elected officials, at the federal level, on both sides of the isle fail to show any backbone is actually solving the issue. They would rather be punchlines for late night tv while pandering to their respective bases. This is how you win elections; great for politicians. Wouldn’t it be nice if we elect statesman who actually had the will to make real decisions about real challenges and worked in a serious way to solve these issues rather than just plug for the next election?
Well said, Connor.
According to Herrod’s fearmongering charts and graphs, my ancestors and the majority of our nation’s Founders should have been outlawed for being too uniformly British. Well, either that, or he really didn’t mean what he said and was actually trying to find a “fair” seeming way to argue that certain races needed to be feared, demeaned, and limited more than others.
As for Utah’s HB116, from my point of view, I’d agree that it is not a perfect bill in any way and suffers from many of the same Statist mentalities as other immigration legislation. But I, personally, was against clamoring for its repeal for precisely many of the reasons its proponents kept harping on . . . or, rather, 116 seems to me a fairly sincere attempt to push-back against usurped, non-enumerated (and failed) Federal systems (such as the byzantine immigration quota and lottery system). Furthermore, I felt it was the most in harmony with the advocacy of the “Utah Compact” (which I appreciate) of any of the raft of immigration bills passed this year.
Great points. Our social programs force us to keep out immigrants because “we can’t afford them” instead of letting them come contribute to our economy.
Federal oversight of immigration also assumes that the central government owns America. If we really owned our homes, properties, and businesses, we could hire or rent or sell to anyone who wanted to come live and work here.
I wrote about how immigration criminalizes freedom over at my blog: http://doublebirds.blogspot.com/2011/04/illegal-people.html
Herrod’s argument is one of the supreme cases of trying to PRETEND that two wrongs make a right.
I thought that the term ‘melting pot’ was outdated. An alternative model is ‘tossed salad’, as various cultural elements sometimes don’t mix well and tend to live in particular neighborhoods and districts.
You make this statement
“No one person has the authority to determine a “fair” process for who can and cannot engage in business with another person, or rent his basement, or attend his school. It follows that the government cannot morally be delegated that power, as the individuals which comprise that government lack it themselves.”
Are you then opposed to trade embargos between one country and another for any reason? What about any college that sets standards for admissions and attendence? There are schools in the country which discriminate on the basis of clothing, hairstyle, and personal conduct which has nothing to do with sat scores, grade point averages. These may not be determined by a government, but if individuals in government can’t do that, what gives any organization that right?
Your argument makes sense if the government is not passing out money, education, and health care to those who come here illegally. Do I think they should be giving any of it to anybody? NO. But I live in California, and we are being sucked dry to the tune of $2Bn+ a year by illegal immigration. When the gravy train stops, you can decide to open it up to whoever is wily enough to get here. Until then, the Forgotten Man (the taxpayer) continues to bear the burden of a corrupt, ridiculous system.
So, I am curious, do you support HB116?
No. I think it’s a horrible bill. I think it imposes big government, infringes upon individual rights, and is a poor approach to dealing with immigration.
One might ask why, then, I oppose its repeal? For me, the issue of state-based control is worth Utah doing something at this point. Nearly everybody is frothing at the mouth that the federal government hasn’t done and isn’t doing “its job” and so for someone like me who thinks that that “job” is unconstitutional, and that the states have not delegated that authority, I support the state affirming its rights to do something, even if I disagree with it. If and when consensus builds that Utah has the authority to buck the feds and manage things as it sees fit, then I would oppose the poor attempts at doing so, but until then, I’m trying to get people to see that the state should be the one doing something, even if that something happens initially to be something with which I disagree.
We cannot simply have an open door policy so long as the nanny style state we are becoming continues to grow.
Sure we can. Not everybody who would come here would use our welfare system. You want to deny a person’s individual rights because other people want to accept the goodies our government freely offers? A good law should not be held hostage by a bad one. We should do what’s right, and let the consequences follow.
Are you then opposed to trade embargos between one country and another for any reason?
Yes. If peaceful citizens of two different countries wish to engage in trade, on what moral grounds can they be prevented from doing so?
What about any college that sets standards for admissions and attendence? There are schools in the country which discriminate on the basis of clothing, hairstyle, and personal conduct which has nothing to do with sat scores, grade point averages. These may not be determined by a government, but if individuals in government can’t do that, what gives any organization that right?
How can this even be thought to compare? A college, barber shop, restaurant, gas station, or any other private institution is owned by an individual who has the right and authority to manage or dispose of that property in whatever peaceful way he desires. If he wants to deny service to women, blacks, Jews, or children, who are you to tell him no?
The issue is not what people can do with their private property, but what people can tell other people to do with their private property. Government operates on the collective, organized force that individuals themselves inherently have and can justly use against others who do them harm or infringe upon their rights. Private institutions can peacefully do as they please. There is no comparison.
But I live in California, and we are being sucked dry to the tune of $2Bn+ a year by illegal immigration.
I grew up in San Diego. I know the circumstances well. The problem is not, as you suggest, “illegal immigration.” You are not being sucked dry by Mexicans. You are being sucked dry by the government. Put the blame in the proper place and then get to work, but don’t use others as a scapegoat.
“If peaceful citizens of two different countries wish to engage in trade, on what moral grounds can they be prevented from doing so?”
human rights and for democratic values
“If he wants to deny service to women, blacks, Jews, or children, who are you to tell him no?”
I would be tempted to say because its unethical. However, maybe a business isn’t suited for some segment of the population.
I too have talked with Chris Herrod and read his book (though I haven’t got to the video yet.) I feel you are putting words in his mouth. Never did he say he supports our current federal immigration laws. In fact, when he discusses the incredibly unreasonable extents he had to go through to get his wife into the U.S. legally, he makes a good case as to why they need to be changed.
Fairness on the other hand, has to do with whether or not the law is equally enforced, and that is what Chris is simply asking. According to Merriam Webster, “fair” is defined as: “marked by impartiality and honesty: free from self-interest, prejudice, or favoritism” and “conforming with the established rules: Allowed.” “Fairness” is the “lack of favoritism toward one side or another.” Both you and Chris make the point that current immigration laws are unreasonable, but Connor, you never explained how enforcing immigration laws for those from Europe, Asia, and Africa, while at the same time looking the other way for those from Central and South America, is fair. How is HB 116 fair when the time limitation to get into the state in order to receive legal status clearly favors those from certain nations over others?
I’m a huge fan of Representative Chris Herrod’s. I like the guy. I recently invited him to come to my hometown with (former) Representative Craig Frank to recruit new members for the Patrick Henry Caucus. I organized the event for them and we had a great turnout. I even opened up my home for them to hang out and eat in. On most states’ rights issues, Herrod is on the right side of the fight.
However, in my opinion, regarding immigration issues, he is wrong on many counts. I have also read his book and seen his video and listened to his speeches. What he is really good at is taking people who favor immigration restrictions and giving them emotional fodder to feast on. He is good at rallying people who already agree with him and giving them emotionally charged reasons to continue to support immigration restrictions. But he isn’t really good at using logic in those arguments.
His supporters believe he has some sort of moral authority over this matter because he married an immigrant (a legal one!), and he spent time in foreign countries, including a former USSR country that he lived and worked in.
I too married a legal immigrant. I too witnessed firsthand the ridiculous, red-taped, expensive, lengthy labyrinth that is US immigration policy.
Without getting too lengthy here, let me just say that there is no logical basis for any of his “fairness” arguments. He often uses the “cutting in line” argument, suggesting that there are people “waiting in line”, attempting to immigrate legally, and that by allowing others to circumvent the legal immigration process, we are doing a disservices to those “waiting in line.”
That might make sense if 1) There was a logical reason to make people “wait in line” AND 2) Allowing others to “cut in line” would cause those waiting to have to wait even longer.
In this case, neither of those qualifiers is realized.
There is no logical reason to make people “wait in line.” Current immigration policy includes arbitrary caps on immigration from various countries. How is that fair? To illustrate how it’s not fair, imagine that two people are attempting to immigrate. Suppose that they both start “waiting in line” at the exact same time. Suppose that they fill out the exact same forms, pay the exact same fees and they “qualify” for immigration in exactly the same way. Now suppose that one of them is allowed to enter the US and the other is not simply because the cap has been reached in that country. THAT is how our current immigration policy works. THAT is not fair. In that case, we DO discriminate based on geographic location.
Allowing someone to “cut in line” does not affect those “waiting in line” AT ALL. Nothing changes for them. They are no better off and no worse off. Their wait time does not change. It’s not like we take the current arbitrary immigration caps and apply the legal immigration totals to them and then add on the illegal immigration totals, in which case we would reach the cap sooner if there were illegal immigrants than otherwise. We don’t do that.
Using Herrod’s logic, it would not be fair for me to sell my goods and services to those living near me at a higher rate than to those living far from me. According to his logic, that wouldn’t be “fair.” Should a car dealer be required to sell an equal number of cars to people from each city in the state as opposed to just selling them to the people that show up? Should a hair stylist be required to have some sort of quota met from every zip code or should they just take whoever walks through the door?
As to Michelle’s questions, “you never explained how enforcing immigration laws for those from Europe, Asia, and Africa, while at the same time looking the other way for those from Central and South America, is fair. How is HB 116 fair when the time limitation to get into the state in order to receive legal status clearly favors those from certain nations over others?”
I have no idea what you are even talking about. When did Connor ever promote enforcing immigration laws for anyone? He didn’t. Why would you even suggest that?
It was said that” we should do what’s right & let the consequence follow” (as in support 116).
But doing what’s ‘right’ means not just supporting ‘good’ but also, not allowing ‘bad’. Supporting good while not protecting against bad is futile & never works. The bad will always win out.
Bottom line is, if we allow illegal immigrants to come here freely, without taking away the welfare benefits & without screening them & only let responsible self-supporting people into our state or country, then all the charity & good will in the world will not stop immigration from completely destroying our state & nation.
No matter how much charity we may feel for these people & want to give them, if we allow evil, as in offering them free schooling, food or healthcare, etc. we just destroy them along with ourselves.
Just as ‘welfare for legals’, is quickly destroying our states & nation.
No one can do or support evil & prosper for long, not even legals.
You are correct (mostly).
You are correct that we should not support “evil”, which includes the welfare state (for both legals and illegals), but ALSO includes arbitrary immigration restrictions and central planning of immigration.
The suggestion, to “do what’s right & let the consequence follow” refers to one of those items, that of moving in a direction in which the evil of central planning can be removed from the immigration process.
Clear your mind for a moment and consider the following. Under the argument that you just made, if the government were to impose reproduction restrictions (one child per couple?), you would be forced to support them until we end the entitlement programs. In other words, even though you would recognize that removing the reproduction restrictions would be “good”, you would state, that “doing what’s ‘right’ means not just supporting ‘good’ but also, not allowing ‘bad’. Supporting good while not protecting against bad is futile & never works. The bad will always win out.”
If based on principle, the argument you just made would HAVE TO support continued reproduction restrictions until the entitlement programs are eliminated.
That is just one example that illustrates the folly of your argument.
I can show you a hundred more if you need.
You see, the nice thing about true principles is that they are always true. They do not vary. They never changed even when circumstances change. Your argument was wrong because it was based on a false premise, a principle which was not true. Your premise was that you cannot support good while at the same time allowing bad. That premise is too squishy, too open. It is not solid. It would make life on earth impossible. We have no choice but to allow bad to exist. We can’t eliminate it. That’s life.
Maybe you are familiar with the serenity prayer:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
Perhaps today we do not have the political strength to eliminate entitlement programs, but perhaps we do have the strength to challenge the federal government’s unconstitutional usurpation of immigration policy. And maybe, just maybe, if we are successful in, first, taking immigration policy from the federal government and restoring to the state governmnet, and, second, in removing immigration restrictions altogether (or something close to that), THEN perhaps we will attain the political strength to end the entitlement programs because we will have no choice.
I would submit that your position not only allows evil (the continued existence of entitlement programs), but actually promotes evil (the continued allowance of unconstitutional immigration policy by the federal government).
I’m sorry, but I do not agree with your example or your philosophy. Reproductive restrictions by government are never right, while certain immigration restrictions are always right.
To protect any state or nation, we always need to make sure we only allow in those who will support themselves & not use welfare & who will not commit crime once here & who will uphold the Constitution.
Otherwise unchecked immigration or immigration with welfare benefits will just bring on a quick destruction for that state or nation.
Until we get our own house in order & righteous, we cannot allow more people in, for with the good comes usually ‘far more bad’ that just make our problems much worse.
I am all for allowing in all those who desire to take care of themselves & live responsibly, as long as we have room for them, but only once we have changed our system & laws to not offer welfare & once we protect those already here, otherwise we are just leading them into destruction.
Really? What kind of blood test will tell you whether people will support themselves & not use welfare & who will not commit crime once here & who will uphold the Constitution?
Whether you admit it or not, your arguments would apply equally to population growth through reproduction. What guarantee do you have that new babies “will support themselves & not use welfare & who will not commit crime once here & who will uphold the Constitution?”
Apply your other statements:
“Otherwise unchecked REPRODUCTION or REPRODUCTION with welfare benefits will just bring on a quick destruction for that state or nation.”
Under what theory would “far more bad” come in if we allowed people to immigrate?
Are people born outside of the US naturally bad, while people born within the US are naturally good?
And if you believe everything you just said, why not shut down the state borders too? Why would you allow people from another state to move here who might just drain our state entitlement programs? If you look at it objectively, you will realize that you can’t promote immigration restrictions at the federal level without supporting them at the state level for the exact same reasons.
The principles upon which you base your arguments require reproduction restrictions as well as state level immigration restrictions.
You stated the following:
‘A college, barber shop, restaurant, gas station, or any other private institution is owned by an individual who has the right and authority to manage or dispose of that property in whatever peaceful way he desires. If he wants to deny service to women, blacks, Jews, or children, who are you to tell him no?”
A number of years back, a local swimming pool did not allow blacks entry. They were sued and lost. It still exists, but they now allow entry to everyone. Apparently some businesses can be told how to run their business.
“The issue is not what people can do with their private property, but what people can tell other people to do with their private property. Government operates on the collective, organized force that individuals themselves inherently have and can justly use against others who do them harm or infringe upon their rights. Private institutions can peacefully do as they please.”
What of permits, licensing and zoning? I once lived in a particular town, the sale of alcohol was severely regulated and very strictly enforced. Towns can restrict the sale of alcohol, tobacco and perhaps other substances.
Local resturants needed to have special licensing and approval to serve alcohol. They were even told they could not give complementary tastes at the table, but had to charge something. Thats more than a little regulation if you ask me.
In most states one needs special permits to do mining operations. There are limitations on what can be done on private property.
I think you’re a little confused about the point of the discussion. The question isn’t, “What can government do?” If that were the question, there would be no end. Government can oppress. Government can confiscate assets. Government can imprison, justly or not. Government can enslave. Government can murder. Government has done all of that and more.
Think of all the things various governments have done along those lines. The list of atrocities committed by governments throughout the history of the world includes every possible act of depravity and injustice.
That’s hardly justification for supporting government in doing those things today. Even a list of the atrocities committed by the United States government would make this point.
So, it’s not “What can government do?” It’s, “What should government do” or better yet, “What is government justified in doing?”
As Connor stated, “Government operates on the collective, organized force that individuals themselves inherently have and can justly use against others who do them harm or infringe upon their rights.”
Think about that for a minute. If government did not exist, what right would I have to tell you what to do? If you tried to injure me, or take from me, limit my rights, or kill me, then I would be justified in defending myself against you and seeking redress if you injured me. The right to my own life, liberty, and property is inherently mine. It’s God-given. It’s natural. It does not come from government. I naturally have the right to protect myself against one who would try to take those rights from me. So it follows that we are justified in collectively authorizing government to do that for us. Because we possess that right. We are the original soveriegn. We are the one’s that can give government the right to act on our behalf. Government does not inherently have any rights. Government does not inherently exist. It can only morally act on our behalf with regard to actions that we would have inherently had the right to perform on our own.
So, your long list of things that government does is not a list of things that government should be doing, or things that govrnment has the moral authority to do. Most of the items you have listed are prime examples of things that government does, but that it has no moral right to do.
I happen to live in a dry town. There is ZERO alcohol sold in my town. Yep, that still exists. That doesn’t make it right.
Sovereignty resides with each individual. Or put in a little different wording, each individual is his own sovereign.
As individuals, we can choose to associate or not associate with other individuals of our own choosing. As much as I may wish to make someone my friend, I cannot make them nor can someone force me to be a friend to them. If someone pursues a relationship with an unwilling second party it can result in legal actions and a restraining order. Friendship must be of mutual consent.
Sovereignty can be delegated by the individual to another entity by written or unwritten contract.
Individuals may organize themselves into groups (such as a religion, a political party, a home owners association, a fraternity, or even a nation) and they may establish rules and bylaws for the governing of that organization, establishing membership criteria, and formulate disciplinary actions for unruly members. Members ought to be free to join (by meeting the membership criteria) and free to disassociate from any organization.
Some groups will accept anyone with a pulse, while others are a little more discriminating. A group determines its own membership criteria. As such, citizens of a nation can establish laws that define who is or may become a citizen by delegating to the state their sovereign right to choose their associations or “membership”.
Through the contract known to us as the Constitution, the authority to define laws for “membership” in the United States is delegated to the Federal Government. “Congress shall have power … [t]o establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization … throughout the United States”. US Constitution Article I Section 8
To make arguments from an individualist viewpoint (the opposite error of being a totalitarian or statist) overlooks many of the issues in my opinion.
I choose who may or may not enter my house and by extension I can delegate the authority to my government to regulate who may or may not enter my country. If someone enters my house without permission or without a warrant, it is illegal and unlawful and so it is when someone enters my country illegally and unlawfully without going through the due process of becoming a guest or citizen according to the laws established by the consent of the governed.
I cannot claim membership in the LDS church without going through the process
1. Missionary discussions
2. Provide verbal affirmation of my conformance to the basic LDS doctrines to a priesthood representative
3. Provide verbal affirmation that my life style conforms to LDS principles
4. Receive the rites for formal entry into the faith (baptism, confirmation and name recorded in LDS church)
These are not artificial process steps, nor are the steps to becoming a US citizen, however the path to becoming a US citizen could be more streamlined while the standards should be kept high, but simple. Such as the following example:
1. Learn the basics of the constitution and about the founding fathers and what self-government means.
2. Swear an oath of allegiance to the United States Constitution and accept the US as your new home and cast off all other national allegiances.
3. Demonstrate that you are not a criminal and do not have criminal intent by providing a history and undergoing some kind of a background check and provide evidence that you will be able to provide for yourself and those who live within your care.
4. Receive formal entry and acceptance as a United States Citizen.
Your points are well thought out and well spoken.
I would, however, suggest that you consider the difference between seeking citizenship and simply stepping across jurisdictional boundaries.
Most of what you said (certainly the Constitutional authority) applies to the process of obtaining citizenship.
JJL9, I do not understand your recomendation or the point of it.
Much of your comment is agreeable and correct. Your conclusion, however, fails on a single point:
I choose who may or may not enter my house and by extension I can delegate the authority to my government to regulate who may or may not enter my country.
You have no country. What is a country? It is a geographic area over which a government has jurisdiction. That area is comprised of individual property owners. Yes, you can designate who can or cannot enter your home. But you cannot designate who can or cannot enter your neighbor’s home.
In your home, you can state that only organic food will be eaten. You can mandate that only classical music be played. You can require that guests take off their shoes. But you cannot suddenly impose such rules when you form a government with your neighbors, as you lack the authority to impose those preferences on your fellow man.
You cannot require that people in “your country” take off their shoes when they enter another person’s home as a guest. You cannot throw people in jail if they play reggae music in their home. You catch my drift.
JJL9’s point was that naturalization and immigration are two separate issues. I elaborate more on that issue in this post.
You frequently ask where in the Constitution Congress is authorized to regulate immigration. Would it not be the first paragraph of article 1 section 9? There it states that Congress will not regulate the migration or importation of people until 1808. Clearly this refers to slavery, but it also gives a textual and historical reference to show that Congress did indeed believe that Congress had the authority to regulate immigration.
If you just look at the text it clearly gives Congress the power to regulate who comes into the country and who does not. It says that until 1808 the state would have the power to allow whoever they want (or at least that congress could not interfere). Thereafter Congress would have that power. It cannot be argued that this is talking about merely limiting citizenship because the group implicitly refered to, slaves, would not become citizens. It also would not refer to limiting only state action because slaves were brought in by individuals. This paragraph shows that textually Congress has the power to regulate migration and importation of persons into the US.
It could be argued that this is an overally literal reading of the constitution and that you need to refer to the original intent of the founders. I don’t think you are much of an original intent kinda guy because of the ambiguous powers it could grant to the federal government, but just to see if it was not the intent we should consider it. The intent clearly is that Congress does have the power to regulate migration or immigration. It says that Congress will not have the power until 1808. This implies that they did have the power and the Constitution needed to limit that power until that year. I believe this was an argument when the clause was first presented at the Constitutional convention, but either way, at the very least it does show that it was the Founders intent that after 1808 the Congress should have the right to limit migration. In fact this power was used just 20 years later when Congress did indeed outlaw importation of slaves.
I agree with you on the policy of immigration. I would open up the borders all the way with the exception of criminals. However, I think the argument is weakened to suggest that the Constitution does not allow it when it so clearly textually and intentionally gives Congress the power to regulate immigration.
You frequently ask where in the Constitution Congress is authorized to regulate immigration. Would it not be the first paragraph of article 1 section 9?
I respond to this clause in the article I linked to above, starting in the paragraph that begins with “Before concluding with this issue…”
In short, I disagree that this clause confers any constitutionally delegated authority over immigration. The other article goes into more detail as to why.
I new I had seen you discuss it somewhere. Thank you for the direction. After perusing your articles I have a few questions.
1) In one article you claim you are for amnesty on Constitutional grounds. I assume you mean only in the sense that you do not want them prosecuted for being here illegally, because as you have pointed out Congress obviously has power over naturlization. Would that be a correct interpretation?
2) Are you constitutionally opposed to Arizona’s/Utah’s laws? I think you have made great policy/idealogical arguments about why they are bad. I would agree with them. However, if you claim that immigration is up to the state, as it looks like you do, wouldn’t that mean that Arizona or whoever could pass whatever inane laws regarding immigration they wanted so long as they do not grant citizenship?
3) In your article about the slavery section of the Constitution you did two things that surprised me. First you did not follow the text in the meaning of migration. You argued that clearly it was only meant to apply to slaves so it shouldn’t be used on other issues, but if we start looking at intent it seems that the Supreme Court could argue the commerce clause broadly since many of the Founders believed it was a broad power, and that the tenth amendment has little meaning because other founders clearly had little regard for it based on their actions only years after they voted for the Constitution. It seems we should only apply the words of the contract so as to avoid the confusion created by trying to divulge the “intent” of the founders.
The second thing is that just because most people don’t use the section in support of immigration law has nothing to do with the clarity of the article. It has to do with the fact that it deals with slavery. No one wants to say that they are basing their authority on the clause giving the right to regulate slavery.
I did however, find your point on the limiting power of the clause quite interesting. I thought it was a good point, but I don’t think it is quite so clear. Obviously the had in mind that Congress would have power to regulate the trade after 1808. I mean this not in an intent way, but in a textual one. They stipulate that they won’t have the power until 1808 which implies that they will when it is over. Just the text indicates that meaning.
Jake, I also respond in that article to the Arizona issue, and my arguments apply the same to Utah. (Search “Arizona” in the article to find the section where I discuss it.) In short: I find a state’s reliance upon federal immigration law objectionable. I do support states taking matters into their own hands, but want them affirming their own authority to do so—not relying upon the federal government’s usurped authority.
As for the A1S9 thing, I do believe that the limitation was a commercial one, as slavery was widely regarded as being under Congress’ purview based on the commerce clause. It was, therefore, a limit upon an already conferred power, and not a backdoor delegation of a new power by inferring its opposite and applying a limited exemption.
While I would agree that the clause isn’t inherently problematic simply because it wasn’t interpreted that way by the courts for such a long time, I do find it interesting. From what I’ve researched, the A1S9 justification for immigration law is a very recent one. Have you seen differently?
Connor, I found your examples rather silly. I see nothing wrong with my conclusion.
You assert that I and by inference that no one else has a country or a place of belonging. You define country as geography over which a government has jurisdiction. And who has jurisdiction or rather authority over the government? … You see, this now becomes a circular argument, which is neither worth time nor effort.
My point is twofold. One, you are looking at things from an individualist viewpoint (the opposite error of being a statist). And two, while I ought not to tell my neighbor how to live, my neighbor and I can agree about how things ought to be in terms of a standard and further as citizens of our country, we can have a say about setting criteria about citizenship (naturalization) and residency (immigration) by electing officials (at local, state, and federal levels) to establish simple criteria that promote the integrity of the community, state, and country at both individual and also societal levels.
When the Anti-Nephi-Lehies were facing genocide, they appealed to the People of Nephi and the Nephites granted them entry and gave them lands in Jerson. When Zeniff went to reclaim the land of Nephi, he didn’t just take it, but rather asked permission of the Lamanite king first. To arrive in secret and unannounced in my opinion is rude and not courteous. To take by force is worse.
If I value being treated courteously, I too will be courteous, I will think about and will forego gratifying some of my selfish, individualist tendencies so that I may be a good neighbor, by perhaps not playing my music so loud, keeping my yard & home neat, and so on. These concepts can be applied at different levels of society and government.
Hopefully, you’ve heard the saying, “good fences make good neighbors”. This too has application at different levels.
Lastly, when I lived abroad for a period of time, I did so legally, and according to the laws established by my host country. I had to ask and obtain permission before I could take up residence in my host country.
“my neighbor and I can agree about how things ought to be in terms of a standard and further as citizens of our country…by electing officials (at local, state, and federal levels) to establish simple criteria that promote the integrity of the community, state, and country at both individual and also societal levels.”
Under that theory, there is NO END to what the federal government could do. If a majority of Americans wanted to require that US citizens go to church every week, then all we have to do is elect officials to establish that simple criteria, right?
Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch.
JJL9, that’s an interesting interpretation of my statement. You assume that if someone is not 100% an individualist then they are 100% or going to become 100% statist. What about centering on correct principles & values (i.e. Christian values and principles) instead of worldly ideologies?
The constitution is a contract which chains down the federal government and is a protection against the usurpation and centralization of power, but the federal government was made more powerful by abandoning the Articles of Confederation and replacing it with the constitution. Why would the continental congress want to make the federal government more powerful? Were they statists? I do not believe that they were.
Today, the federal government is operating outside the scope of the constitution and there has been no formal process for adjusting the power distribution. The federal government has just seized that power and that is why it is a usurpation of power. But, this is another subject to debate at another time. America is at a dangerous tipping point because of the concentration of power at the federal level.
You too are looking at things from an individualist viewpoint. Errors often come in pairs. You abhor state-ism so your propensity is to make the error of being an individualist because you don’t find it as terrible an error to make as being a statist. Both, however, are errors.
JJL9 & Connor, I will stand by my comments. I think I’m getting close to reaching a conclusion regarding immigration, etc. Thank you for the debate.
M, I think your statement condemned you and not us. Here’s why. You sate, “You assume that if someone is not 100% an individualist then they are 100% or going to become 100% statist.” We have never said anything like that. In fact, you have repeatedly stated that we are individualist. But we have never called you statist. Perhaps it would be appropriate for me to state that: You assume that if someone is not 100% a statist then they are 100% or going to become 100% individualist. If I were to say that, it would be based on what you called us, not just a baseless acusation.
I actually don’t believe that statement, but if you believed the one you made, then if you were in my shoes, you would believe this one.
You go on to talk about principles (Christian values and principles) without any coherent reason. I would submit that our stance is one made on principle, a principle which we stated explicitly. And that statement affirms that we are not “100% individualist”.
Here’s one version of said statement: “Government operates on the collective, organized force that individuals themselves inherently have and can justly use against others who do them harm or infringe upon their rights.”
In other words, we believe that government can exist and act morally. Hardly an “individualist” stance. And we have given the litmus test, or the principle upon which we can judge whether or not a certain policy is just or moral.
That’s what a principle is.
1. A fundamental truth or proposition that serves as the foundation for a system of belief or behavior or for a chain of reasoning.
2. A rule or belief governing one’s personal behavior
A principle does not change based on the situation. True principles do not vary. They are not dependent on my particular point of view. They are eternal.
Understanding and internalizing true principles makes decision making easy. One does not have to consider an infinite number of variables when faced with a potential dilemma. One can apply the principle and the solution is readily apparent.
In your case, you have suggested that it is perfectly reasonable for a group of individuals to elect officials to determine criteria for citizenship, and even for just allowing a person to step across a jurisdictional boundary (even if they have no intention or desire to become a citizen).
You misunderstood my response, which elicited the response from you that “You assume that if someone is not 100% an individualist then they are 100% or going to become 100% statist.” And then you talked about principles. See, that’s the thing. You have not provided us with a principle that would justify limiting immigration. It seemed to me that the only thing you said that might be an attempt at that was that you said it was justified to “promote the integrity of the community, state, and country at both individual and also societal levels .” That is what elicited my response. That was the principle that I assumed you were basing your decision on. But that is no principle at all, because if that were your principle, then you would, as I suggested, concur that if having everyone go to church every week will promote the integrity of community, state, etc…, then the litmus test has been met to justify such a law. It doesn’t matter whether or not you believe that forcing everyone to go to church would promote the integrity of community, state, etc…, because the principle that you stated previously was one in which we elect people to determine the criteria for us. Which brings us full circle to my point, that under your theory as long as a majority felt that forcing everyone to go to church would promote the integrity of community, state, etc…, then such a law would be just and moral.
If you disagree, then state which principle it is that justifies the one and not the other. I know that you are likely to respond that you have tired of this debate and that you would like to simply agree to disagree at this point, but that would be a little bit too expedient in the face of this challenge. There is no principle that would satisfy the challenge.
Lastly, the Constitution is not a contract. I did not sign it. And neither did anyone else who is currently subject to its authority. A contract exists between two parties, and states that party A must do X, and that if they do, then party B must do Y. Party A and party B bind themselves to the terms of the contract by mutually agreeing to, usually by signing their name to it.
The Constitution, on the other hand, is the Supreme Law of the Land, and the beauty of its original intent was that it did not require anything of anyone, but simply allowed individuals to maintain inherent, natural rights, and to collectively authorize a federal government to do what they already inherently had the right do, ie to protect their own rights. When they said (in the Declaration of Independence) “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights” they were stating explicitly that no contract was required, no agreement required, to give men these rights. They already existed. The Constitution does not provide these rights, but simply recognizes them, and binds those who choose to follow it, to follow laws which we are already naturally bound to follow.
You are absolutely correct that “the federal government is operating outside the scope of the constitution…” On that we all agree.
You’ve now started writing in the third person plural. So I take it you speak for and on behalf of a group of people. Well, ok…
Up until now I didn’t think anybody was calling names (the individualist, statist thing). No slander was intended, but I cannot control how you interpret things or why you would choose to take offence.
I’m glad you believe that you are taking a principled stance. I find that I am constantly questioning myself about whether I am taking a principled Christian stance on issues not just with my words, but also with my deeds, but if you are sure of yourself, good for you.
I agree with you that the government is an instrument of force and that it has no authority to apply force in such a way that I myself am not morally justified in doing. Government should never take upon itself powers that are not possible to be delegated to it.
Thank you for sharing with me the definition of “principle.” It confirms to me that I used the term correctly when I wrote about centering on Christian principles rather than worldly ideologies. I don’t understand why you attacked my ability to put thoughts into words, but that’s ok. I forgive you. However, I’m just going to have to disagree with you, I reread my post a couple of times and I do believe what I wrote is coherent.
I did provide the principle upon which it is justifiable to deny someone access of crossing national boundaries in my first post on this page. Connor thought I made a logic error, but I countered his point by stating that we the people have authority over the government which in turn has jurisdiction over the country, which Connor defined as “geography”. No one else has sighted a flaw in the logic in my first post so I’m thinking the reasoning is pretty sound and I believe I successfully defended the reasoning when I countered Connor’s disagreement with it.
Now about “my” theory…
Under “my” theory, and just let me say… I don’t know that I can call it mine. Nevertheless, please allow me to express this using math terminology. Under “my” theory, individual freedom would be maximized subject to the constraint of (1) God Laws (which if we follow, actually make us freer) and (2) sound judgment. So, things that are inherently wrong, such as murder or stealing, etc. would be punished appropriately following the principle of innocent unless proven guilty. For transgressions, or things that are not inherently wrong it would be very important to apply sound judgment. For example, it would be important to establish traffic laws, and yes even immigration laws and so on, so that for the benefit of society and individuals we could have a set of agreed upon rules in order to minimize confusion, troubles and maximize freedom.
It is on this point of establishing rules for things that are not inherently wrong where I don’t think you and I will find agreement. And this is a place where sound judgment and good balance would be paramount so that things are neither underdone nor excessively done since both errors would result in a limitation of individual rights. Yet, I believe I used sound logic based upon moral grounds in my original posting to this page to justify establishing rules and criteria for immigration and citizenship, which would also include management of our nation’s boundaries. That’s something Connor said he had not seen and so I shared my thoughts and reasoning hoping that he and others would not be dismissive. I suppose I had a false hope in that.
So, while it is not inherently wrong to immigrate, there must be rules for it. Back to my traffic laws example. How safe would you feel driving your car in a place with a lot of fast moving cars and no traffic laws? There is nothing inherently evil about driving fast or not stopping at a red light, but neither having nor following traffic laws would be extremely foolish as would having poorly formulated immigration laws. I don’t know how to make my point any clearer.
Yes, the constitution is the supreme law of the land, but you are just plain flat out wrong about the constitution not being a contract or more precisely a social contract. “I didn’t sign it.” I’m sorry, but that’s just silly to say.
Yes, I am tired of this debate. I’m saying this because it is expedient and I can no longer face the challenge. Additionally, if it makes you feel better then I declare you the victor. You may mark this as a win on your score card. I will no longer try to convince you.
Lastly, I hope God does not denounce me. You seemed to imply that I am worthy of condemnation. I hope not. In any case, this is it for me. Thank you again for the debate.