Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Sowell on Immigration

Thomas Sowell:
"Both legal and illegal immigrants have come here primarily to work and make a better life for themselves and their families. But a country requires more than workers. It requires people who are citizens not only in name but in commitment.

Americanization did not happen automatically in earlier times and it will not happen automatically today. Immigrants in an earlier era had leaders and organizations actively working to transform them into Americans -- the Catholic Church with the Irish and numerous organizations among the Jews, for example.

Today's immigrant activists and the politicians who kowtow to them have just the opposite agenda, to keep foreigners foreign and to make other Americans accept and adjust to that. It will be a national tragedy if they succeed.

Just what problem will amnesty solve? Illegal aliens will benefit and politicians will benefit by sweeping the illegality under the rug by making it legal. But how will American citizens benefit? America can lose big time."

I think there is an important issue here that probably hasn't received explicit discussion. A system of political economy implies the foundation of a social contract to which people agree, and by which these people are said to be citizens for which there are both rights and responsibilities. Citizens of the United States share such a social contract and as a matter of simple definition non-citizens do not. As citizens we have the right not to share that social contract with people we do not choose to share it with. Our Constitution gives Congress the power, and thereby the responsibility, to define the criteria that must be satisfied for a non-citizen to become part of our social compact. With this in mind, I think we should expect Congress and the national government to enforce the relevant laws. With such enforcement as a backdrop, we can then consider whether We The People would like to change the criteria for citizenship. There seems little point in giving Congress the power to define (or change) such criteria if it will not first enforce the criteria that have been defined in the past.

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