Tags: daca | immigration | trump | amnesty

The Ethical Case Against DACA and Amnesty

The Ethical Case Against DACA and Amnesty

Thursday, 01 February 2018 11:32 AM Current | Bio | Archive

The arguments swirling around the illegal immigration battle that is so heated these days fall somewhat naturally into a set of categories. There are arguments which are economic, arguments that are legal, those that are political, those that are cultural, and finally those that are ethical. Naturally there are overlaps and border cases, but I think it clarifies the discussion to perceive what kind of claims are being made by the other side and what are the right responses.

Some of the ethical arguments that have been made for allowing illegal aliens to stay in America and ultimately become citizens (and then bring all of their relatives over to be with them) are just as emotionally seductive as they are specious.

For example, the ethical argument that illegal aliens brought to America as children, the so-called “dreamers,” should be allowed to stay, goes like this:

Illegal aliens who were brought to America as children were not responsible for their unlawful entry into the country nor, as minors, for their continuing presence here while growing up. Consequently, it is unjust to punish these particular illegal aliens by sending them back to home countries that they have never known and where (at least sometimes) people speak a language which they do not understand.

The problem with this argument is that removing someone from the country who has no legal right to be here may in fact be disappointing and it may thwart long-lived expectations, but it is not punishment. By bringing their children to the United States, the parents of these “dreamers” in effect conferred on them a great benefit which it was not their right to confer, that is, an American upbringing. For our country to state that they can no longer enjoy the benefits of being an American and that they must return home is no different than recovering stolen cash, given to a child by the parent/thief, when the child has already spent half of it (and will not be forced to surrender the wonderful possessions he has acquired with that half of the money already).

The ethical fault in this case cannot be placed with the state which merely asserts its right to enforce its laws. Rather the fault is clearly with the parents who attempted to evade the law and it is toward these parents that the dreamers should rightfully direct their ire. This is Ethics 101.

This brings up a second point. It is often argued that America has been complicit in the crime of illegal immigration — that we as a society have “winked and nodded” to the presence of illegal aliens (adults as well as children) by not enforcing our laws. Therefore, by this reasoning, it is unjust to suddenly decide to uproot illegal aliens (dreamers or otherwise) and deport them.

To this argument there are basically three responses.

First, there has indeed been complicity — by Democrats who want voters and Chamber of Commerce Republicans who want cheap labor. Illegal aliens who have been duped into thinking that they can get away with it forever do indeed deserve sympathy. I have often argued that for that reason, among others, it would be wise and compassionate (in the best of all possible worlds) to institute a transition period during which illegal aliens could dispose of their property, finish the school semester, search for a job and a home in their home country and only then be sent back. (Some may recall that Mitt Romney made exactly such arguments while he was governor of Massachusetts). This is, alas, highly impractical unless a detailed plan is devised and has the full support of the president. But the moral argument is valid nonetheless.

Second, what is often missed is that illegal aliens in America have benefitted from every day that they have been allowed to stay here. With nary an exception, any illegal alien who is sent home tomorrow will nevertheless be better off, in proportion to the amount of time they have stayed in the U.S., than if they had never come here in the first place.

Finally, if you ever actually talk to any illegal alien — and I have — they will quickly divulge that they know full well that they have no right to be here; that they were never under the impression that because they had managed to avoid the law for five, ten, twenty years that they therefore would be exempt permanently. It is for this reason that the illegal alien community in America is so incredibly fragile. Despite years of a suspension of any meaningful attempt to enforce the immigration laws, illegal aliens still shun the police. They do not call the police, say, for domestic violence or drug dealing incidents and their natural instinct when involved in a traffic accident is to get away as fast as possible (even if there is some impediment like a motorcycle and driver under the wheels).

In spite of the fact that there is no legitimate moral case for illegal aliens to remain in our country — let alone to demand to remain — it is possible nevertheless to feel sympathy with their situation. But so too is it possible to feel sympathy with the situations of the five billion or so other souls who would come to America in a heartbeat if they could. And, of course most of all, it is very easy to feel sympathy for the millions of Americans who are pretty far down the social ladder, who don’t write big checks to politicians, and who have borne the brunt of the invasion for a generation even though the law was on their side.

Michael Stopa podcasts with Todd Feinburg every week at the Harvard Lunch Club Political podcast, HarvardLunchClub.com. Stopa is a lifelong Republican who ran for U.S. Congress twice in Massachusetts. He was a delegate for Donald Trump at the Republican National Convention in 2016. In real life, he is a nanophysicist who has taught graduate chemistry at MIT and directed a computational nanoscience research program at Harvard. He is the proud father of four beautiful children, two of whom are in college and draining his wallet. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.

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Some of the ethical arguments that have been made for allowing illegal aliens to stay in America and ultimately become citizens (and then bring all of their relatives over to be with them) are just as emotionally seductive as they are specious.
daca, immigration, trump, amnesty
Thursday, 01 February 2018 11:32 AM
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