Morality is not optional
Reader comment on: Lowry and Kristol on Immigration
Submitted by John Gillis (United States), Jul 9, 2013 18:41
So much of the immigration debate is based on a utilitarian premise: that's it's just a fight over jobs, or the new immigrants not being culturally assimilated like every other group in history, or welfare transfers to non-citizens, etc. etc., etc. It is an endless debate which no one can win, because there is no way to measure objectively such claims regarding jobs, minimum wages, welfare, cultural assimilation.
The key issue that Mr. Kristol, Lowry, and even our editor here (even though his perspective is much more economically coherent) is: what is the morality of immigration?
One part of the answer is that no American has the right to deprive me (another American) of the freedom to trade with anyone in the world I wish to do so. All the immigration laws of the U.S., since the 1920's have been restricting my rights to engage in morally righteous trade with anyone I choose. From the 17th century through (roughly) the 1920's, the moral principle of liberty applied to the American continent: there was no immigration controls, and the result was a stunning influx of talent -- whether street sweeper talent or astrophysics talent. Yet now, the intellectual status quo is that some Americans (mainly conservatives) can assert that no one has the inherent right to come to America and trade their services with others. And those who can manage to get in can only do it based on massive regulation and police control that is increasingly absurdist (such as the 2000 mile reverse Berlin Wall desired by conservatives on our Southern border.)
Aside from my right being trampelled upon, the right of every person who wants to enter the U.S. and cannot is also violated. The right to be free, to trade with anyone, to earn one's living in whatever lawful way one can, is not a citizenship right in America -- it is a universal right of being a human being (as the Founders called it: an inalienable right). So, all the conservatives and Dems who take it for granted that potential immigrants can be excluded, are committing rights violations that our Founders would have been appalled at (most of them, except for the slavers). This is the greatest civil rights issue since the Civil War. Millions of blacks had to be freed from their bondage back then, and they were, even though there were struggles into the mid-20th century). But today we see millions of non-citizen human beings who face terrible lives of poverty and death simply because they were born in other countries and can't win the "lottery" to get a ticket past the regulatory thicket into the U.S.
There were no stipulations in the Constitution about restricting entry into our land. The writers understood the morality of liberty, which does not acknowledge or accept the coercive nature of the America that has arisen in the 20th century to keep out the "other".
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