The worst rhetorical device used when discussing immigration and border control is the ad hominem, "illegal alien." It is used daily but its absurdity is rarely challenged other than to suggest it is a politically incorrect term.
There is no such thing as a person whose very nature makes him illegal. Nobody is born into a state of illegality.
The U.S. Constitution enumerates the rights we all possess as individuals. It doesn’t grant them nor does it claim to be exhaustive or authoritative on the subject. It is quite specific as to who possess rights: people; persons. In other words, anyone who can fog a mirror has rights.
Geographical location is thus not a barrier to the endowment of one’s rights. We possess rights by virtue of being alive. Merely being alive can never be construed, either morally or logically, to be an illegal act.
An alien is generally defined as a person who is a citizen of another country or state. If you travel from Texas to Arizona, you are an alien there until you have complied with Arizona law on the matter of legal residency. That only means you are entitled to certain privileges such as less-expensive college tuition, a driver’s license issued by the state, etc. It does not mean that you are illegally in the state until such time as you become "legal." A state doesn’t have any legitimate power to deny your rights, but it can deny you certain privileges if you are an alien.
Traveling, without interference by some government official, is a fundamental human right. When I was a kid, you could travel between Mexico and the U.S. and between Canada and the U.S., without any identification. Nobody demanded you produce ID. A trip down to Ensenada or Tijuana was a regular occurrence for my family during the late 60s. Crossing the border was no big deal and that was at the height of the Viet Nam war. But today, we are told that this is no longer possible. The government cannot obey the constitution because that would lead to anarchy. See, if you obey the Supreme Law of the Land, that is anarchy. (Orwell would be so proud).
A border is not a property boundary; it is a demarcation of legal jurisdiction. A person, who crosses a border, has not committed a common law crime. If he hasn’t trespassed, there isn’t a moral or just legal reason to demand he show papers or submit to a search. By making this demand, the government is insuring that those who want to retain their privacy do so by trespassing.
The U.S. Constitution grants no authority to harass people crossing the border unless those crossing are obviously intent on committing harm. The only authority given to congress relating to immigration was to determine what constituted citizenship. Since it is allegedly supposed to protect our rights, it has no legal authority to demand identification or to detain us merely because we cross a border. We celebrate Ellis Island, but we shouldn’t. It was a detainment camp that violated the rights of everyone who entered even if they gladly accepted it. Many people died there unnecessarily.
Now before you get upset with me, I am not asserting that we don’t have an immigration problem. We do, but, the current system is so corrupt, some are considering further ruining the rights of Americans in order to solve the problems created by it. Unfortunately, most of the remedies proposed will either make things worse, or only treat the symptoms.
The issue of illegal immigration is a political minefield. There are many causes and therefore no one solution can resolve them. As Dr. Paul has said on multiple occasions, the first problem that has to be addressed is birthright citizenship. You can’t do that without replacing or amending the 14th amendment with something that repudiates Supreme Court decisions holding that rights are conferred by birthright citizenship.
The 14th amendment is an abomination as was the legal opinion of the Supreme Court that incented its creation. It isn’t terrible because it presumes to tell states that their citizens have rights. It doesn’t do that at all. It is terrible because it legitimizes the milestone Supreme Court decision, Scott v. Sanford. Justice Taney in that decision "discovered" a legal loophole. You see, in spite of the plain words of the constitution, Taney argued that "people" and "persons" really meant "citizen." Since there was no legal decree making people citizens by birth, Dred Scott, who was born in the U.S., had no rights. What Taney meant to say, was that Dred Scot, a black man, was not human.
In a better world, Congress would have impeached all of the Justices who supported that decision. Instead, they proposed an amendment legitimizing the decision though intending to remedy the injustice wrought by the decision. The Dred Scot decision has never been overturned. If you don’t believe me, read US v Verrdugo-Urquidez decided in 1990. The court claimed that "people" is a "term of art" meant to describe citizens. In other words, rights are conferred by citizenship.
To work and to travel internationally, you must prove to authorities that you are a citizen. This renders you guilty until you can prove your innocence. Due to other abominable laws and decisions, you are also forced to pay to educate, feed and care for citizens who are such by consequence rather than allegiance.
Healthcare is the most oft-cited expense leading to bad immigration policy. The charity hospitals, country doctors and house calls of the past are but a memory as are reasonable costs for healthcare. It wasn’t always so expensive. My father made ninety cents an hour in 1962. He had no health insurance and didn’t need it. When I was born, he was able to pay for the entire hospital bill, which included a 3-day stay and a battery of drugs and test, in cash.
By 1990, when I was 28, if you didn’t have insurance, you couldn’t pay for a hospital birth in cash unless you were very well-to-do. Multiply the cost of just one hospital birth today by the tens of thousands per year who come here just to do that, and you have the initial cost of birthright citizenship given to those who have no means.
States have recently sought ways to curtail the cost of illegal immigration. California passed a proposition some years back that was struck down by the Supreme Court. Essentially the court said that privileges can’t be denied anyone, including non-citizens. Too bad the court isn’t as generous with rights.
A law passed in Oklahoma, sponsored by State Senator Randy Terrill, "terminates public assistance benefits to illegals; it empowers state and local police to enforce federal immigration laws; and it punishes employers who knowingly hire illegal aliens."
Oklahoma is no longer “O.K.” for illegal aliens, Terrill observes. “When you put everything together in context,” he contends, “the bottom line is illegal aliens will not come here if there are no jobs waiting for them, they will not stay here if there is no government subsidy, and they certainly won’t stay here if they know that if they ever encounter our state and local law enforcement officers, they will be physically detained until they’re deported. And that’s exactly what House Bill 1804 does.”
Now, this may seem like a great idea. It’s certainly working to rid Oklahoma of inherently illegal people. A mass exodus of the work force in Oklahoma is currently taking place in advance of the law taking affect November 1, 2007. Parts of this law deal with the problem, and parts simply trample on the rights of all people working and living in Oklahoma, not just those considered illegal.
The Oklahoma law legitimizes the idea that it is moral and just to compel a person to show his papers in order to earn a living. It also interferes with business owners and presumes to tell them who they may hire. Lastly, the law gives federal police powers to local authorities. A side effect of this law will be the ruination of Oklahoma’s economy.
The wages for unskilled labor will rise, but so will prices. In order to attract workers, assuming that there are enough people to fill those roles, businesses will have to raise wages and then prices to cover the margin.
But that’s not the worst thing that will happen. The worst is that the legislature of Oklahoma will view the reduction in health and welfare costs to the State as a surplus that they can spend elsewhere. It will not only ruin the economy, but will also expand government.
Dr. Paul hasn’t just offered a solution which seeks to treat a symptom. He has repeatedly pointed out that the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy poses a hidden tax on citizens as well as non-citizens; particularly those in the middle and lower income brackets. By devaluing the currency through inflation, immigrants who come here to work can’t afford healthcare and education because the costs are so high. Then again, neither can a large number of us "legal" people.
Healthcare has enjoyed an attack from both monetary policy and government regulations, making anything more than a cold or flu a potentially bankrupting event.
Ron Paul’s proposed solutions to the immigration problem make the most sense. He isn’t suggesting we further encroach on the rights of individual citizens. Immigration is one of the reasons given by some politicians for the necessity of a national ID card but Dr. Paul argues convincingly that it is not needed.
He also hasn’t suggested that we immediately start deporting people. His call to end birthright citizenship and welfare incentives, along with a monetary policy which restores confidence and value to the currency, attacks the root cause of systemic abuse rather than the symptoms. However, this will have to be preceded by a fundamental shift in the view that our rights are granted by virtue of citizenship rather than birth.
If we don’t adopt Ron Paul’s suggestions, and instead adopt the solutions proposed by his challengers, being illegal will be the only option available to us to preserve our own rights and liberties.