Who thinks people should benefit from illegal acts?

The most frequent argument I hear for the legalization of DREAMers is that since their parents brought them here they broke the immigration laws through no fault of their own. They are law abiding residents who came to this country as children and deserve to be granted rights not granted to other illegal immigrants.

If you’ve seen the video of the confrontation between a couple of professed DREAMers and Rep. Steve King of Iowa, you can see how this argument can be difficult to refute without being made to look a villain. While King held his own in most respects, I think he could have given his interlocutors a simple scenario that offers a similar circumstance and see how they would answer.

Suppose that my dad was a famous cat burglar*. He stole the Mona Lisa when I was a kid. I was unaware of this. To me, we were just a normal family with a beautiful painting hanging in the dining room my entire life. My father gives me the painting when I go off to college and my roommate immediately reports it to the police. Should I be allowed to keep the painting because I didn’t participate in his illegal deeds?

I feel like most people would say no. I shouldn’t get to profit from my dad’s illegal activity. It is written into our morality as well as our legal statutes. If I buy a stolen ring from a pawn shop, even if I believe that it is legitimate, I have to return it to the rightful owner when discovered.

I think the same rule applies here. I don’t pretend to have all of the answers, but letting these DREAMers move to the front of the immigration line and profit from their parents’ illegal deeds isn’t the way to go.



*My dad is not a famous cat burglar. All of the paintings in his house are bought and paid for from reputable art dealers. I hope.

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