Politics & Policy

Betraying the American People on Immigration Is No Small Thing

Sign on the Mexican border near Nogales, Ariz. (John Moore/Getty)

One of the most lame excuses for doing nothing is that we can’t do everything. Such excuses have been repeated endlessly, even by some conservatives, when it comes to illegal immigration.

We can’t deport millions of illegal immigrants already living in the country, some say, so the wise thing is to just learn to live with them, according to the supposedly sophisticated crowd.

This completely sidesteps the plain, obvious, and galling fact that we are not deporting those illegal immigrants who are arrested by the police for violating other laws — and are then turned loose back into American society. In so-called “sanctuary cities” across the country, local police are under orders not to report illegal immigrants to the federal authorities.

Nobody has a right to obstruct justice when it comes to federal laws — not even the president of the United States, as Richard Nixon discovered when he had to resign after Democrats threatened him with impeachment and Republican senators told him that they would not defend him.

Today, any mayor of any city of any size across the country can publicly announce that he is going to obstruct federal laws against illegal immigrants — and then bask in a glow of self-satisfaction and the prospect of winning votes.

Even people who are gung-ho to punish employers who do not take on the role of immigration police, for which they have neither training nor authority, are often ready to overlook elected officials who do have both the duty and the authority to uphold the laws, but openly refuse to do so.

The federal government itself, under the Obama administration, has refused to enforce immigration laws and has ordered its own agents to back off when it comes to enforcing some laws that President Obama happens not to like.

Then there is also what might be called the pretense of enforcement — when people who have been caught illegally entering the country are turned loose inside the country and told to report back to a court later on. How surprised should we be when they don’t?

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One of the most widely known abuses of the immigration laws is the creation of “anchor babies” to get children automatic citizenship, when a pregnant woman simply crosses the U.S. border to have her child born on American soil. This is not limited to people who cross the Mexican border. Some are flown in from Asia to waiting posh facilities.

Not only do their children get automatic American citizenship without having to meet any requirements, this also increases the opportunities for other family members to gain admission later on, in the name of “family reunification.”

This is such an obvious racket, and so widely known, for so long, that you might think our “responsible” leaders would agree that it should be stopped. But, here again, there are excuses rather than action. One distinguished conservative commentator even said recently that this is such a small problem that it is not worth bothering with.

The anger of Americans who feel betrayed by their own elected officials is not a small thing. It goes to the heart of what self-government by “we the people” is supposed to mean.

To say that it is a small thing is even worse than saying that we can’t do anything about it. We certainly can’t do anything about it if we won’t lift a finger to try.

#related#Some legal authorities say that the 14th Amendment confers automatic citizenship on anyone born on American soil. But the very authors of that amendment said otherwise. And some distinguished legal scholars today, including Professor Lino Graglia of the University of Texas Law School, say otherwise.

Even if it were necessary to revise the 14th Amendment, it is sheer Progressive-era dogma that constitutional amendments are nearly impossible to revise, repeal, or create. There were four new constitutional amendments added in just eight years during the height of the Progressive era in the early 20th century.

But it is indeed impossible if you are just looking for excuses for not trying. Republicans who are worried about Donald Trump should be. But their own repeated betrayals of their supporters set the stage for his emergence. This goes all the way back to “Read my lips, no new taxes.”

Thomas Sowell — Thomas Sowell is an American economist, social theorist, political philosopher, and author, whose books include Basic Economics. He is currently senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University.

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