Illegal Immigration: Bad Deal for America … and the Immigrant

The Congress shall have the Power . . . To provide for the calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress insurrections and repel invasions

Article 1, Section 8, Clause 15

The immigration issue is getting plenty of attention this presidential election cycle.  This is not solely due to a certain New York billionaire businessman’s entry into the Republican Party’s nominating process.  This was an issue in the past two presidential elections.  Specifically, it is illegal immigration that is gotten the attention of politicians.  It has gotten their attention because many conservatives, who vote in Republican primaries, are unhappy that nothing has been done to address this problem.

Illegal immigration is an issue for one simple reason: Congress has not done its constitutional duty to repel invasions.

The federal government has a responsibility to defend the borders of the United States.  By not defending the borders, government has allowed foreigners to come into this country by the millions — for decades — in violation of our laws.  Today, those illegally in America are part of our economy, our communities, and, increasingly, part of our politics.

One of the political problems with illegal immigration is that most of those who are here illegally are Hispanic.  There is now a sizable portion of the voting public who descend from countries that are Spanish speaking.  The peoples of Cuba, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico, etc. do not view each other as their own, but in the United States, a pan-Hispanic identity has emerged: Hispanics in America (legal or illegally) view themselves, along their counterparts in Latin America, as a people.

Being a people representing about 15% of the U.S. population gives the group political power.  Those in the country who are citizens are able to vote.  Those who are not here lawfully have the sympathies of many Hispanics who are.  When Americans voice concern that the Southern border is not secure, or federal and state governments should limit financial assistance to citizens and legal residents, or that in-state tuition should only benefit those in the country legally, many Hispanics here lawfully feel that their people are being targeted.  Many feel that their people are unwelcome.  And many feel their people are victims of racial animus.  This feeling of victimhood often manifests itself in the voting booth and helps the Democratic Party, which has become the party that nurtures and exploits racial and ethnic victimhood.

The charge that the United States is in any way hostile to Spanish-speaking people is a curious one given that Cuban refugees have been welcomed in the country for decades.  Also, the people of Puerto Rico are not simply welcome; they are citizens of the United States and have been for a century.

This logic has not stopped people in this country from charging that those who oppose illegal immigration are, at least in part, motivated by racial animus against Spanish-speaking people.

Just as there is no inherent right for an individual to attend Harvard Business School, there is no inherent right to immigrate to this country.  And just as the HBS admissions committee decides which applicants to accept, the people of this country should have some say regarding who gets to come into the country.  It is indeed true that many current citizens descend from those who were immigrants.  Those immigrants, however, came to this land without breaking the law.  It is also the case that the need for immigration at various times during our history does not mean that need exists today.

The Reluctant Conservative is of the opinion that the immigration policy of the United States should benefit the people of the United States.  Many of the people who illegally come to the U.S. from Mexico, Nicaragua, El Salvador, etc. are low-skilled.  Those low-skilled individuals provide inexpensive labor to legal residents and businesses in certain sectors of our economy.  If those here illegally are, through government action, legalized, they will move into the general economy competing for jobs held by low-skilled native-born Americans.  Importing such people into the country is an immigration policy that does not benefit the people of the United States.

In many instances, however, such a policy has not been beneficial to those illegally crossing the border.

There is human trafficking in the United States.  Hundreds of thousands who cross the border are at the mercy of human smugglers.  Many can be subject to physical and sexual abuse.  Often those being smuggled are indebted to the traffickers who brought them into the country and are denied their freedom until the debt is paid off.  Such debts are difficult to settle with the low wages the migrants are paid, if they are paid at all.

Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

Amendment XIII, Section 1

We cannot turn a blind eye to the trafficking that is taking place in this country, even if it means paying more for goods at the local grocery store.  The federal government has a duty to do more to prevent it.  The country paid a huge price in spilt blood between 1861 and 1865 to end this kind of human exploitation.  There may be little Americans can do about the existence of slavery in other countries, but we all should be able to agree that we will not have it here.

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