James Leroy Wilson's blog

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Immigration Rights

Imagine 1939 Poland having open borders. Hitler announces a plan to provide financial aid to young Germans who migrate to Poland. The spoken intention is to provide them with a "better life" - and who can argue with that? The unspoken intention, however, is that Hitler wants these immigrants to change the political situation in Poland, so that some or all of it comes under Berlin's control.

If Poland awakens to this, changes its policy, and begins border control and immigration restrictions, should this be viewed as

a) a violation the rights of Germans who want to come in, or
b) self-defense?

If the majority of Poles are dogmatic anarchists, they could claim that Poland has no right to control its border or restrict immigration, because by all rights Poland, along with all other nation-states, does not deserve to exist.

But because Germany does exist and wants to expand her borders, Poland must exist, if Poles would rather be governed by Poles instead of Germans. This despite the fact that significant portions of Poland were once German territory. All states were created by illegal usurpations and unjustly-acquired land; the question is whether we should abandon them for that reason, or to preserve the current ones to prevent even more usurpations and injustices.

The issue hits home, of course, considering the situation of the southern border. Mexican elites seem driven by two policies:
a) Use the United States as a sponge to absorb Mexican's impoverished and rely on the money they send back from the States, rather than reform their own economy;
b) Promote Mexican nationalism within that immigrant population, promoting an ideology that the Southwest belongs to Mexico and Mexicans.

Michael Thomson calls these Mexican immigrants reconquistas. Thomson writes, "You don't immigrate to a country that you consider your native homeland."

Immigration should be seen in this larger context. It is about more than individuals seeking a better life, it is about the political reconfiguration of North America. I'm no fan of the United States government, but I do believe it has the right to protect its own borders and sovereignty.

One person's freedom to move ends where another person's property begins. One person's freedom to leave a country does not mean he is free to enter another whose laws forbid it. As Stephen Cox writes:
My right to freedom of speech is in no way contingent on the language I speak, on my possession of a job, or on my willingness to give a political oath. A right is absolute. It is conditioned by nothing. It depends on no action of mine. It is endowed by my Creator. It is inalienable. But advocates of the "right" to immigrate see this "right" as far from absolute, unconditioned, or inalienable. They make it dependent on something else. They call it a right, but they don't believe that it is one, any more than I do.

If you say that any country in the world that wants to get rid of its convicts and insane asylum inmates can send them to the United States, as Cuba did in 1980, and the United States is morally obliged to take them in, because they have a right to be here, then I will admit that you are talking about people's right to immigrate.

If you say that you welcome the idea of a hundred thousand Wahhabi missionaries being allowed to land in America, with no attempt to check or approve them in any way, and with no regard to their political affiliations or intentions, then I will admit that you are talking about people's right to immigrate.

If you say that any nutball political or religious group has the right to import its adherents, by the tens or hundreds of thousands, with the intention of supporting them on public welfare until such time as they are ready to bomb Wal-Marts all over Kansas and Missouri, then I will admit that you believe in people's right to immigrate.

But if you say that you welcome the idea of ten million more unskilled laborers arriving from Mexico, because that is their right, except that they should not be permitted to live here unless they get a job, learn English, and swear to support the Constitution, then you're not talking about a right at all. You're just talking about something that you want to happen.

No comments:

Post a Comment