Saturday, June 16, 2012

Emotion Vs. Justice in Illegal Immigration

 Huckabee Feeling Good About the Move

The media is full of video of bright-eyed and respectable young Latinos celebrating Resident Obama's decision to disregard Congress and essentially quit enforcing immigration law with respect to certain classes of illegal aliens.    When I saw them on television I shared their joy.  No human with a heart could fail to be moved by the plight of a person brought to this country illegally by their parents when they were maybe five years old.   Many from this group consider the United States their home, but are still living with the fear of deportation as a consequence of their parent's actions.   My heart goes out to them.   

At the same time, I will never forget what an old black Pentecostal preacher said to us at a revival I was attending; "Emotions make a good caboose, but a bad engine."    Our minds, renewed by and connected to the Holy Spirit of God, ought to be the Engine.   If we do that then our lives will be guided by reason, justice, principle, and truth.   The cars of the train should be our actions which follow along where the engine of our mind takes us.

Lastly, the caboose should be the emotions.   We will have positive emotions if our minds are right, and our right actions follow our right minds.   People who put emotions first fall into a trap.   They want to feel good now regardless of what the righteous mind might think of it and regardless of what the actions will lead to in the long run.     People who put feeling good first often wind up miserable.  People who put right thinking first wind up with the most satisfying emotions as a side-effect.

With that in mind, let's consider not how we feel when we see happy young people being cut a break on TV, but rather reason, justice, principle, and truth.    How then might we rationally evaluate this move, made months before an election?    The most glaring thing is that we now have an imperial Presidency and an impotent legislature.    The DREAM ACT is still before Congress.   It would legislate the policy which Obama is pursuing on his own.  But it has not passed.  Rather, Obama is personally deciding, without legislative authorization, which laws he will enforce and which he will not.

This is an extremely dangerous precedent for those who want to live in a Republic rather than a revolving dictatorship.     I find this administration to be shockingly lawless, this being but the latest example.   The nation has been taken to war in Libya, and now in Syria and Iran, without even consulting Congress, much less declaring war.     He has asserted the right to detain indefinitely, or even assassinate, American citizens without trial and without regard to the protections enumerated in our Bill of Rights.   Though the judiciary is resisting that last outrage, Congress has become irrelevant.    Are the good feelings one gets when watching the smiling young people on television worth the end of our Republic?  The end of the rule of law and the beginning of rule by executive fiat?

Don't expect any help on this issue from Mitt Romney either.   In his tepid response, Romney made no mention of the dictatorial nature of Obama's actions.   He only mentioned that executive orders were "temporary solutions" since they can be changed by future executives.  Heck, Governor, laws can be changed by future legislatures too, if laws mattered anymore.  Clearly you, like Obama, are comfortable with the idea of the Executive branch usurping legislative authority.   In a post-Republic revolving-dictatorship form of government, you seem to be looking forward to your shot at dictator.

But my objections so far would apply to any executive usurpation of power, whether the policy considered was a good idea or a bad one.   Let us now examine the logic and reason given as to why this particular act would be good policy or bad....

The primary appeal is to "justice" because many of these young people were taken by their parents into the county illegally.   They did not choose to break the law, their parents did.     Now this country feels more like home to them than the place they were born does.   Where is the fairness in deporting them, especially if they have lived virtuous lives here?

Well there is no doubt that these young people have been put in a predicament by their situation.  The question is who should bear moral responsibility for their plight?    If the public, then the public is obligated to make it right, if another, then that other is obligated to make it right.     In this case, it was the young person's own parents who put them in this situation.    The moral responsibility is not on the child, but it does not fall on the public either.    The only adult making a knowledgeable choice was the parent.

Of course, it is wrong to punish children for the sins of their parents.    No one is suggesting that.   But deportation is not prison.     We are not taking away from them even one thing that they would otherwise be entitled to.  It is simply taking from them something that they were never entitled to in the first place.   What has happened is that through the fault of their parents (not them, not the public) they became accustomed to something they were not entitled to.    

Suppose you owned a home in a distant state.  Times were good so for five years you paid on it but never got a chance to visit.  Finally declining economic circumstances led you to realize you needed to get this home in order and start renting it out.    Suppose when you got there, you found that a family had moved in without your knowledge or consent and misrepresented themselves to neighbors as legitimate occupiers of the house.    An eight year old child had been living there.   Are you wrong to tell the family that you want them pay rent or to move out and take away "the only home this child had ever known?"   

You are not the bad guy in this situation.   The child is not the bad guy.   The parents are the bad guys.   You are not "punishing" the child because you are not taking from them anything they were ever entitled to have.   They are not worse off after you eject them than they were before they entered your property illegally.  In fact, they benefited from the free use and enjoyment of something they were not entitled to for years.  All you are doing is ending the benefit, not punishing them.

Honestly, I don't know how we can enforce any laws against any parents if such thinking is taken to its logical conclusion.      Any time you send parents to prison and children have to be given to someone else it is pretty much the same situation.    The children are suffering as a result of the parent's actions.  It is heartbreaking, but the state is not at fault.     If parents steal a million dollars and give it to their children, is it "punishing" the children to return the money to the rightful owners?

Let's go further.  What about job and educational opportunities in our terrible economy?   What happens to the legal citizens who should have gotten them when the illegals are allowed to stay?   What does it say to those waiting in line to get in according to the law?  This is a complicated moral situation.  It is a mistake to form policy based on emotion generated by which side you saw on TV.  In this situation, to show mercy to some, is to show cruelty to others who are at least as innocent.   I am not arguing against mercy.  I am arguing that who we show mercy to be decided by reason and principle, not emotion.

Of course there all always individual exceptions to these sorts of moral generalizations.   For example a virtuous young person in this predicament could enlist in the military and save the lives of ten of their fellow soldiers.    Would it be just to deport such a person?   Of course not.    They may have been brought here illegally, but they purchased their right to remain through gallantry, virtue and contribution to the defense of the nation.     Exceptions exist, but the just and proper way to consider exceptions is individually.   Justice cannot be well meted out by group parameters.      Failing to uphold the law based on group criteria is injustice just as surely as failure to reward the exception is injustice.

But of course the most virtuous of all such a group, to a level of virtue and integrity rarely seen in our post-modern world which has rejected those values, would be a young person who self-deported and then applied for a legal immigration status back into their heart-home.    This would be an act so full of respect for our laws, and so worthy of merit that it would be impossible to find any just grounds to keep from moving them near the front of the line to gain legal entry.      However we live in an age where many are quick to demand what they see as their "rights" but few are willing to accept and respect the responsibilities with which true rights are co-mingled.

The people of a nation have every right to know who wishes to enter their land, and permit or deny entry as their own government sees fit.    A virtuous immigrant who wants to be an American citizen does not "take jobs" from us, for such a person will give more to the economy than they take.   The trouble is that when an immigrant is an illegal one, we have no way to tell if they are givers or takers.   All we know is that they are not respecting our laws.  That's wrong, and we ought to have a say, through our elected representatives, if anything can be done about it.

6 Comments:

Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

This is a policy analysis, with a view towards morality, justice, and reason, concerning the recent executive order nullifying federal immigration law for some illegal immigrants.

2:46 PM, June 16, 2012  
Anonymous Disappointed Conservative Hispanic said...

I do appreciate and see that apart from the 'emotional' issue of immigration, bypassing congress is a HUGE dictatorial move.

That being said, let me offer my experience. I am Hispanic, born in Guatemala who came to the U.S. legally. I am not rich, so coming here legally meant getting a scholarship (competitive NOT need based) to study and get a Ph.D. in chemistry. I could not get a work permit like the one President Obama issued with this executive order. Getting a work permit meant that an employer would sponsor my petition. It angers me that it took almost 20 years, three college degrees and a track record to attain a work permit (based on my own ability) and now all of a sudden these illegal aliens get a free pass. What was the point of me following the law then? Are my parents suckers for not coming here illegally 20 years ago? I have a heart, and I do see the human side of this, but then why put the cart before the horse? Where is the humanity, heart and relief for those waiting patiently and following the law?

3:03 PM, June 16, 2012  
Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

Thank you for sharing your story. Yours is part of that other side I am trying to get America to see. The media is completely ignoring this side of the issue and giving full-bore coverage to the other side. They are a disgrace to their profession.

You, on the other hand are the kind of person I would be proud to call a fellow citizen. I wish I could trade one of these alleged "journalists" for you!

11:12 PM, June 16, 2012  
Anonymous Disappointed Conservative Hispanic said...

Thank you! Back in 2007, after graduating with a Ph.D. in chemistry, I needed a work permit to be hired, but couldn't get it b/c no employer would sponsor my petition, since employers asked me if I already had a permit to legally work in the U.S. (brilliant circular reasoning, right?). As a result I went bankrupt (because I couldn't get a job and didn't have income) and was at the risk of having to leave the U.S. after being here legally for more than 10 years. I was at the risk of having to leave the U.S., the house I had bought in 2002, with no family and friends. I know first hand what is to face the prospect of losing everything you have worked for, but I followed the law, and couldn't have I (and many others) used an 'executive order' and 'relief' to get a work permit so I could have gotten to work and avoid bankruptcy? Again, the one thing that upsets me about President Obama's recent immigration mandate is that it favored and rewarded a group of individuals WITHOUT acknowledging the hard work and patience of individuals that followed the law. I'm not on the side of 'deport them all', but I think giving them work permits when the law requires all LEGAL immigrants to have a job offer and an employer sponsor just to get that work permit. Again, it means that I have wasted my time and that I should have come here illegally 20 years ago and I would have gotten a 'free pass'... I would like to let my story be known and how a move like this undermines the will of LEGAL immigrants and discourages them from following the law and becoming a resident and citizen of the U.S...

11:27 AM, June 17, 2012  
Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

Your account also highlights that operating in this country illegally is not just a matter of breaking one law. They have to use fraud and assume a fake ID to operate within the economy. If they have been adults any time at all, they have become accustomed to operating outside the law. Why are we to give preferential treatment to someone like that over someone like yourself?

12:47 PM, June 17, 2012  
Anonymous Disappointed Conservative Hispanic said...

Thank you for writing back Mark. It is an issue with many layers. Not so much 'complex' as you hear on the news. I say 'complex' because that seems to be a word favored by those who approve of amnesty and 'immigration reform' to imply that any dissenting views are 'too stupid' and 'not intelligent' enough to understand the argument. Several laws are broken and loopholes used to operate 'legally' within the system. You have hit the nail on the head. The rationale of this 'executive order' is providing relief to 'immigrant children', which amounts to preferential treatment being given to a group of individuals while leaving and ignoring another group of (not just) Hispanic individuals and leaving them out in the cold. Giving them work permits is fine, but why not also give them by 'executive order' to those that are already here legally in the U.S. or wanting to come into the U.S. legally (both from Hispanic countries AND the rest of the world) with a Master's or Ph.D. degree in hand?

8:34 PM, June 17, 2012  

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