‘Government by consent of the governed” is under attack. The crisis on our southern border tells us that American immigration policy is not decided by the American people through our constitutional process but by foreign criminal organizations, foreign citizens who pay those organizations to transport illegal immigrants, and foreign governments that permit (voluntarily or involuntarily) the transportation of illegal immigrants through their territory.
Not only is immigration policy determined outside of American constitutional democracy, it occurs without the consent of the governed. On the first page, of the first paragraph, of the first Federalist paper, Alexander Hamilton explains the purpose of the American experiment in self-government. It is to “decide the important question” of whether people are capable of “establishing good government from reflection and choice” or whether “societies of men” are “forever destined to depend” upon “accident and force.” In contemporary America, “We the People” do not determine our immigration policy through “reflection and choice”; instead, as Hamilton feared, it is determined for us by “accident” and “force.”
Shortly before the 2012 election, President Obama unilaterally declared an amnesty for those illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. under the age of 16, after Congress had explicitly rejected his proposal. This executive ukase DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) has encouraged a massive new influx of illegal immigration from Central America, according to the migrants themselves. Official U.S. Border Patrol statistics reveal that about 22 percent of the illegal immigrants are “unaccompanied alien children”; the other 78 percent represent family units and adults. The Pew Research Center reports that 84 percent of the children are teenagers. Representative Michael McCaul (R., Texas), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, stated: “About 80 percent, though, of these so-called children are about 16 to 17 years old, mostly male. That, from a security standpoint, greatly concerns me.”
Today, the Obama administration (again without congressional approval) promises another — but much more massive — amnesty for around 5 million to 6 million people, about half of all illegal immigrants in the country. The original DACA amnesty (of approximately 600,000) was merely a “down payment,” Representative Luis Gutierrez (D., Ill.) told a National Council of La Raza conference. Obama, Gutierrez contends, has promised to expand the amnesty by a factor of ten.
Senator Jeff Sessions (R., Ala.) declared that Obama’s proposed tenfold increase in amnesty “threatens the foundations of our constitutional republic.” It essentially constitutes not only the nullification of the Immigration and Nationality Act but also, Sessions says, represents “executive nullification” of our borders themselves, thus “creating the very open-borders policy explicitly rejected by Congress and the people.” Unfortunately, in the sixth year of the Obama presidency, it has become necessary to explain to our fellow citizens that the Constitution does not give the executive the right to nullify acts of Congress.
House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi explicitly embraces the elimination of America’s borders, declaring, “We are all Americans — north and south — in this hemisphere.” In Texas, looking across the Rio Grande Valley, Pelosi stated, “This is a community with a border running through it.” Other Democrats such as Texas representative Henry Cuellar disagree. Cuellar makes a clear distinction between his Mexican-American community in Texas (which supports border enforcement) and communities across the Rio Grande, in Mexico.
Many Democrats, however, appear to be closer to the Pelosi position. Representative John Lewis (D., Ga.) tweeted: “We are all connected. We can’t just build a wall or a fence and say no more. This is America. Our doors are open.”
Fair enough. If Pelosi and Lewis wish to propose changes in immigration policy that would establish by law that “our doors are open,” the issue could then be debated democratically, and a policy decision could be made from “reflection and choice” to either adopt or reject the open-borders position. (Pelosi and Lewis might even obtain bipartisan support from the Wall Street Journal editorial page, which before 9/11 ran the same editorial every Fourth of July arguing for a constitutional amendment declaring: “There shall be open borders.”)