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Liberty, Limits, and Illegal Immigration

Have you ever noticed that those most opposed to keeping tabs on people who might be in the United States illegally are also those typically most enthusiastic about wanting to keep tabs on American citizens?

During the last Republican administration, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, John McCain and their friends went into neocon-vulsions if anyone dared question their so-called “PATRIOT Act,” and were just as self righteous in their support of 2007’s failed “Comprehensive Immigration Reform,” or, blanket amnesty. As our current Democratic administration extends the PATRIOT Act, ignores America’s porous borders and continues with many other Bush-era policies, Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer and Republicans-who-think-they’re-Democrats, like Senator Lindsey Graham, are heavily promoting a national ID card including “biometric identification,” a proposal perhaps even more Orwellian than the PATRIOT Act. Not-so-coincidentally, Schumer and Graham were major supporters of 2007’s amnesty legislation, something many Democrats are now looking to revisit.

What some have called “invade the world, invite the world,” is now standard US policy, in which America goes to war all over the globe in the name of exporting some vague “freedom” while allowing itself to be invaded via illegal immigration, also in the name of a similar, supposedly universal “freedom.” “Freedom is popular,” Congressman Ron Paul rightly says, but what is he talking about? Is it the kind of “freedom” George W. Bush described, doing his best Woodrow Wilson impression, in the lead-up to the Iraq war? Many Iraqis and Afghanis-not to mention Americans-still aren’t sure what Bush was talking about after nearly a decade of war. “Freedom” in many Middle Eastern countries means the liberty to impose Shariah law, and such nations often find American-style democracy as alien as we find their society. Is it possible that American “freedom” is something more particular and concrete than what the “invade the world, invite the world” crowd suggests?

Paul seems to think so. The primary argument of his book “A Foreign Policy of Freedom” is that the maintenance of American liberty is contingent upon us minding our own business and allowing other nations to conduct their own affairs. According to Paul, citizens of the United States can only enjoy their constitutional, historically-rooted liberties so long as they are free of big government, both home and abroad.

Are these American liberties universal? Should we simply have open borders, allowing everyone access to American freedom, in much the same way our government insists foreigners overseas must adopt our model? Paul seems to suggest that American liberty-or being an American, period-is something more particular than that, or as he noted after the pro-illegal immigrant, May Day rallies in California in 2006:

“The recent immigration protests in Los Angeles have brought the issue to the forefront, provoking strong reactions from millions of Americans. The protesters’ cause of open borders is not well served when they drape themselves in Mexican flags and chant slogans in Spanish. If anything, their protests underscore the Balkanization of America caused by widespread illegal immigration. How much longer can we maintain huge unassimilated subgroups within America, filled with millions of people who don’t speak English or participate fully in American life? Americans finally have decided the status quo is unacceptable…”

Arizona has certainly found the current, open borders status quo unacceptable. What exactly is Arizona supposed to do with an estimated 600,000 illegal aliens, a number that at least 70% of state residents believe is intolerable? Antiwar.com’s Justin Raimondo rightly blames the federal government: “stop trying to protect Afghanistan’s border with Pakistan and start protecting our own border with Mexico. Make the border airtight. In short, start using the resources of the federal government to carry out its one-and-only legitimate function: securing and protecting our borders.” If the primary job of government is to protect the liberty of its citizens-and it does not-then adopting a fairly tame corrective at the local level makes perfect sense. If one reads the written law it becomes clear that this is exactly what Arizona is doing, nothing more, nothing less, and certainly nothing too extreme.

In 2008, South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford signed into law what was considered to be the toughest anti-illegal alien legislation in the country, even after being warned repeatedly that it was a federal matter. That same year Sanford took on the Department of Homeland Security by refusing to cooperate in implementing REAL ID, even after and DHS Director Michael Chertoff repeatedly warned that SC must comply. Those concerned that the new Arizona law marks the beginning of some emerging police state should ask themselves this- why is it that the same Washington officials who gave us the PATRIOT Act, who promote national identification and man the Department of Homeland Security, all either staunchly oppose Arizona’s new law or champion open borders in general? Could it be that Washington officials would like to use the excuse of unchecked, unregulated immigration-a problem not-so-curiously of their own making-to allow the federal government to further intrude into the lives of citizens? Given the Feds recent track record under Bush and now Obama, this is a far more likely scenario. And it would seem that Americans concerned about the loss of civil liberties have far more to fear from the open borders policies promoted by Washington leaders than states who insist on picking up the federal government’s slack.

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