When I started writing this I intended for it to be a simple primer on the issue of immigration in America. Little did I know how long I would spend researching and writing this. To keep it from getting to long for one sitting I have decided to break it up into smaller, more digestible parts. This first part will be more of a basic backgrounder on immigration in the US. From there will dig more deeply into Amnesty and Deportation. Then the final part will be my own attempt to create a framework for what a solution to immigration could be from my point of view. What I originally wrote begins after the break.
For as long as I can remember I have heard people complaining about illegal immigration in America. I have heard everything from how they take away jobs to they take jobs that Americans don’t want. When I look at who people are speaking to mostly when the say illegal immigrants it tends to be people from Latin America and South America. I know that there are illegal immigrants from just about every nation in America, but even watching the media coverage tends to point to Latino peoples. In election cycles immigration becomes a hot button issue but then tends to quiet down until the next election cycle. It seems that the only solutions that can be offered are Deportation or Amnesty. Republicans tend to shy away from Amnesty but Reagan did it in the 80’s. Democrats rail against Deportation but in 7 years Obama has deported more illegal immigrants than any other President. Do a little research on the subject and you will realize the lies being spewed by both sides gets deep fast.
Let’s start by understanding that the US Constitution enshrined our nation as a Republic, not a Democratic Republic, or a Democracy. It has been said that on the final day of the Constitutional Convention Benjamin Franklin responded to a question about the Constitution by saying “It’s a Republic……. If you can keep it.” The Constitution creates a limited representative republic rather than a democracy. In a democracy the majority can pass laws directly, while in a republic our elected officials make laws. Basically in a pure democracy the mob rules and tramples on the opposition. Whereas in a republic, like our Constitution creates, limits are placed on the majority. It provides safeguards for the individual and minority groups. In democracy laws are made in the heat of the moment, but in a republic the law governs. In a democracy if an official fails to follow the popular will of the moment he can be easily removed by the will of the people. In a republic an elected official can go against the will of the people on a given issue knowing that he will be judged on all his actions while in office. John Adams wrote that “There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide,” and James Madison wrote in Federalist #10 that “Democracies have, in general, been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths.” The reason pure democracies fail is that majorities learn that they can legally take property and/or liberties away from others. Those subjected to abuse can be anyone outside the majority coalition, and their minority status can be based on race, religion, wealth, political affiliation, or even which city or state they reside in. Demagogic leaders become adept at appealing to the emotions of jealousy, avarice, and entitlement. They also denigrate opponents in order to justify prejudicial actions taken by the majority. Soon, oppression of minority classes causes enough conflicts to collapse the democratic process. The Founders wanted laws made by representatives in order to put a buffer between popular passions and legislation. Of course, if an elected official does something grievously offensive, then the voters can follow the advice of Alexander Hamilton, who in Federalist #21 wrote, “The natural cure for an ill-administration, in a popular or representative constitution, is a change of men.” When the people’s will is thwarted, regular elections give them the opportunity to dismiss their representatives and appoint new ones.
Born in other countries, yet believing you could be happy in this, our laws acknowledge, as they should do, your right to join us in society, conforming, as I doubt not you will do, to our established rules. That these rules shall be as equal as prudential considerations will admit, will certainly be the aim of our legislatures, general and particular.” -Thomas Jefferson