Immigration and country clubs
The 2020 presidential election will likely be about immigration. It should be. A Yale-MIT research team estimates that there are 22 million illegal aliens in the country today. If large numbers are amnestied and chain-migration remains in place, tens of millions of these aliens and their families will become citizens. This will reshape the country.
The Democratic Party supports nearly open borders. Congressional Democrats, along with Republican establishment types, have back doored in a catch-and-release policy for illegal aliens. They’ve done so by ensuring that, as a general matter, illegal aliens who show up with a child or underage teenager and claim asylum are briefly held and then released into the country so long as they promise to show up to an immigration hearing. Because large numbers blow off the hearing and are not tracked down, they are in effect let into the country.
Democratic Presidential candidates announced they want to amnesty illegal aliens, decriminalize illegal border crossing, eliminate Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), hand out medicine, education, and welfare to illegal aliens, and tear down the southern border wall. Among the candidates who support two or more of these policies: Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Bill de Blasio, Kamala Harris, Beto O’Rourke, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren.
Earlier, President Obama put forth a nakedly unconstitutional order to amnesty one group of illegal aliens (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals — DACA — aliens). This term the Supreme Court will likely strike the order down. In negotiating with President Trump over the budget, congressional Democrats again made DACA aliens a priority. Many Democratic cities have declared themselves sanctuary cities. Fourteen largely Democratic controlled states give driver’s licenses to illegal aliens. Democrat and establishment Republicans insist that the children of illegal aliens automatically become citizens, and thus become anchor babies, even though neither the text nor history of Constitution supports this rule. Nor has Congress ever voted to put the rule in place.
The issue matters for a couple of reasons. First, if large numbers of illegal aliens were amnestied, politics in the U.S. will swing far left for decades. Second, the slow motion invasion will forever change U.S. identity. China, Israel, Japan, and Norway have an identity that is based in part on being constituted by a people with a shared history and sense of identity.
Similar to these countries, the U.S. has an identity that is based in part on being constituted by a people with a shared history and sense of identity. Were it constituted by a different people, it is unclear if the American people would retain their identity. It is also unclear whether the country would remain as committed to political and economic liberty. The freest countries in the world are concentrated in Western Europe and East Asia. It is unclear whether tens of millions of illegal aliens and their chain-based relatives share this value and even less clear whether they’ll identify as American.
Writing in evonomics, George Mason economist Garrett Jones argues after immigrating to a new country, immigrants and their descendants largely retain their attitudes toward markets, trust, and social safety nets and change governments accordingly. Demography is destiny.
A good way to think about immigration in moral terms is via an analogy. Consider an exclusive Westchester County country club. It is justified by the consent of its members. The members jointly own its property. Consider, for example, its clubhouse, lands, and financial assets. As a moral matter, the members may run it for their own benefit. This is part of a more general feature of morality. Individuals may favor their families, friends, and neighbors over strangers. They may also spend their money on their own projects. Morally, the members get to decide who joins the club or uses its facilities. It is not decided by who sneaks into the club in the dark of night.
A country is similar to a country club. Its government is justified, if is justified at all, by the consent of its members. It members jointly own its property. Consider, for example, a country’s air space, financial assets, military assets, parks, and roads. As a moral matter, members may run it for their own benefit and get to decide who joins it or uses its facilities. Also, like a club, who gets to join a country or use its facilities should not be decided by who sneaks into it.
What follows from this is that, as a moral matter, citizens should get to decide who becomes a member of their country. It may keep illegal aliens out for any reason or no reason whatsoever. Whether the aliens will likely cause the U.S. to be less free, enter more foreign wars, and have less respect for the Constitution is beside the point. On a side note, they will likely do so. Without the 1965 Hart-Celler Immigration Bill, Barack Obama, with his weaponized DOJ, FBI, and IRS and frequent unconstitutional abuses (Chrysler bailout, campus speech restrictions, Obamacare implementation, Libyan war, etc.) would likely not have been elected.
There is a debate, albeit one that is often not publicly discussed, as to whether amnestying most, if not all, of the 22 million illegal aliens would be economically or culturally good for the American people or would increase their freedom. What there is no debate on is that the country’s owners did not consent to let them in and have not retroactively permitted them to stay. That’s really the issue.
There’s little debate that the aliens would not be as good for the American people as would 22 million immigrants who were let in on the basis of merit. Such immigrants might be let in because they invested millions of dollars into the economy or had the job skills, advanced education, or high IQ important to an advanced economy. Still, this issue is irrelevant. What is relevant is that the American people did not agree to let them in.
Stephen Kershnar is a State University of New York at Fredonia philosophy professor. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org