Open Letter to Liberal/Libertarian Friends: Arizona Immigration Law

To all my liberal and libertarian friends:

I’m going to have to agree to disagree with you on the idea that the Arizona Immigration law is racist, mean-spirited, and unconstitutional.

I admit that it might not be for a completely objective reason, since it’s partially a personal family reason for me. I, too, have friends from the other side of the border who came here illegally and are still here illegally. I’m never going to turn them in or anything. I’ve explained the moral issue behind what they’re doing by taking public services they didn’t pay into and have encouraged them to either get legal or go home and left it up to their own conscience. Even though they’ve preferred to stay, they’re still my friends. I know there are others like me, so I don’t think it’s in any way as polarized as the left and the media is duping people into believing with their daily sound bites.

I have more faith that bad cops will be taken out of the mix than I have suspicion that this is a carefully concerted conspiracy by the governor, law enforcement, and citizens of one state to subvert the 4th Amendment. If you’ve been to the Arizona border recently, it really is a war zone. Whereas people crossing in the past were non-violent and grateful for help they got from humanitarians, they now are regularly armed and are not shy about shooting, without even so much as a “hello”, at border patrol agents and even ranchers or average citizens they encounter. Home break-ins are at an all-time high, even to the point of people being at home during the time of the break-ins and the perps not even caring about it…just taking what they want with impunity. They know the cops can’t touch them because of the toothlessness of the Border Patrol’s “rules of engagement” and the ACLU. They know about the drug dealer shot by Ramos and Campeon and that not only did the dealer get off on a technicality, he successfully sued them with the help of US attorneys and got them put in jail. They know this when they boldly charge the border every day because it’s reported as “good news” in Mexican media.

The arguments by liberals, and some libertarians interested in legalizing the drug trade, seem to be broken down into four categories (mostly defined by emotions and eschewing the logic required to maintain):

  1. We have so much. Why not give it away?
  2. Civil Rights and freedom of expression are independent of a country’s borders.
  3. Requiring documentation of one’s citizenship status is the mark of a poor philosophy of government. We have found a higher standard…no documentation whatsoever.
  4. Illegal immigration and the drug trade are two separate issues.

Let’s break these down logically rather than emotionally.

  1. Nothing on earth is for free. Everything requires labor and capital to produce or distribute, and sometimes even consume. Government is not immune from the universal law of thermodynamics…there has not ever been, there is not now, nor will there ever be a such thing as a “free lunch”. No matter how much we may wish it to be so. “Free stuff” was purchased at the cost of another and given away to someone who didn’t work for it (and quite often, as in the case of the illegal immigrants we see holding up signs saying they’ll turn their gardening tools against Americans, doesn’t appreciate). Personally, I would feel guilty taking free medical care or free housing or free education or free food or free law enforcement or free legal services that I didn’t pay for even if I’m told by my host country that I’m welcome to it. That’s because, personally, I can’t stand being in the debt of anyone. I’d do everything I could do to return the favor somehow. But maybe that’s just a difference in life’s learned lessons between some of us and others.
  2. Of course we give people freedom of expression. I’m willing to let illegal immigrants speak out against the government that has housed and fed and employed them. But it seems the height of ignorance, and even ingratitude, to expect that the country you come to because of its stability due to the rule of law your own does not have cannot itself require you to follow the same laws you hope will protect you one day. The newspapers in El Paso and Southern Arizona are full of illegal-on-illegal violence. Who pays for the law enforcement services to protect illegals or to put them into the justice system so they can have their “Day in Court” for the crimes they committed or were committed against them? The very country they denounce as being racist and xenophobic. It boggles the mind.
  3. We must categorically reject the ill-conceived notion that it is a better foundational government philosophy to not want to root out ne’er-do-wells by having them go through a visa application before gaining admittance into the human rights and prosperity candy store that is America.  To me, the very desire for the absence of such checks is anarchistic and mafioso.  It puts the power into the hands of anyone who wishes to do Americans harm, rather than into the hands of Americans who want to protect their lives, families, liberty, and property. To put it in more personal terms, would you allow some strange man to come into your home and take care of your kids without at least a background check?  (Yuppies in New York City do this all the time, but New Yorkers aren’t exactly the most logical people in the world.)
  4. I think a bit more reading of border news stories and talking to average people who actually live near Arizona’s borders is on tap for a lot of Americans who believe the myth that drug trafficking and immigration are two separate concerns. They are decidedly not.  About 10-15 years ago, the required passage for smugglers was around US$1500 per person. Families would scrape and save and borrow to come up with the funds. One could even have respect for the fact that at least these poor folks were working hard to save enough to come here and take our free goodies. But the “coyotes” (smugglers) have wised up and realized there is a LOT more money to be made by providing border crossing for free in exchange for each crosser being a mule to carry over backpacks full of marijuana and cocaine. Drug dealers pay better than peasants. It is now a shameful fact that the vast majority of immigrants “pay” for their passage by carrying drugs…and weapons to defend themselves from BP agents and ranchers…so that they can deliver their payload to the handler on the other end. For if they do not deliver their payload, they may as well lie down and die in the Tucson desert.  With that in mind, do libertarians and liberals truly think that “better drug policy” is going to make a dent in the market for making immigrants into mules?  If the ideal they’re proposing is about making the drug trade legal so we can tax it and so that no crime will be committed by anyone for a fix or a sell and other fringe libertarian stuff, then that’s a whole other discussion.
  5. Of course, all of this would be irrelevant and unnecessary if the Democrats and certain self-interested, career politician Republicans (Kay Bailey Hutchinson and John Cornyn) hadn’t introduced their amendment to the Omnibus Consolidated Appropriations bill. This amendment, if it didn’t outright break the law by legislating a mandate that resulted in a failure to fully fund and build the border fence, at least hobbled it.  See the Secure Fence Act of 2006, ‘Where’s the fence?’ activist asks Congress, page 123 of the Omnibus bill (the actual amendment), and Bill guts border fence requirement.

    By forcing a single state of the union to pass its own law to fill the vacuum left by what is a basic and fundamental duty of the federal government (to protect the borders of national sovereignty), the federal government is ultimately to blame for any of the rights that are trampled upon here. That is, if we lived in a nation with a Commander in Chief who respected the Constitution and the rule of law and wasn’t always passing the buck.

    Another question to my liberal friends is this:  If a cop in Green Valley, Arizona sees a van stuffed to the ceiling with people racing along the freeway from Nogales to Tucson, isn’t he obligated to check it out…even just from a safety perspective (both for the occupants and anyone else unfortunate enough to crash into them)? If he then makes an arrest based on immigration status, why is he now in legal trouble since it’s illegal to enter the country without documentation? Why must his arrest of the occupants be solely on the basis of a routine traffic violation when a greater crime is at issue?

    Is it a civil or human right to be in another country, enjoying its services and benefits, illegally? If you believe (the lie) that borders are an artificial construct that stand in the way of human unity and progress, and that south-of-the-border countries are composed of kumbaya-singing humanitarians who can’t understand why there isn’t more free passage, why when we travel to Mexico is it a problem to not have one’s passport and/or birth certificate? Why can’t we just trot right over the border the other direction with the same impunity we offer to southern countries?

    The answer is simple. Our politicians have forgotten that a nation’s ability to be coherent, to be ruled by the rule of law rather than by mob or tyrant, lies in the integrity of its borders, its language, and its culture.  And they forget this to our detriment, as illustrated by Arizonans uniting to do for themselves what their federal government will not do for them.

    The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

    In this case, the powers were indeed delegated to the United States (federal government) by the Constitution to protect our nation’s borders. The irony of this is that with all the desire to increase the size of government at the expense of the states, one would think that the Feds would jump at the chance to take on border enforcement (and a little bit more) already prescribed to be under its purview by the Founding Fathers. Believing that would be to make the mistake that anyone in Washington actually cared what the Founding Fathers thought, or, worse, to mistakenly believe that politicians in Washington aren’t overtly trying to subvert the Constitution.

    By abrogating solidly granted Federal powers to the states, they are unintentionally signalling their contempt for America and its freedoms. If this isn’t a reason to take them out at the polls in November, I don’t know what is.

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