GOP can affirm Rule of Law and define Amnesty down

Prohibition, border crossings, adultery and the Rule of Law in practice

The attacks against Governor Rick Perry’s support for in-state college tuition for illegals in Texas by his rivals for the Republican Party presidential nomination reveal a need for clarity on the issue of illegal immigration writ large.

Most conservatives, including yours truly, opposed the Bush-McCain amnesty plan in the Summer of 2007 because it failed to ensure border security before any amnesty for those non-felon illegals already here. We believe that it is inherent in nationhood that its people must control who may enter its country and under what circumstances for reasons of public health and safety, as well as economic concerns.

We can’t have another 20 million illegals enter at their whim. We should revise the late 1960’s legal immigration law changes that socialized our policy. And we must secure the border.

But what of those already here, and especially those that have been here illegally for many years?

Some conservatives oppose any amnesty, even after the border is secured. I am not in that camp. I have long agreed with Charles Krauthammer that amnesty on all but voting rights would be the best course AFTER we build an actual and/or virtual fence between us and failed nation of Mexico.

But the internal GOP debate between tea partiers, conservatives, moderates and elites as a seminal election approaches reminds that we also need to be clear on what policies we favor now, BEFORE the border is secured. The debate sparked by Perry’s entry into the race has revealed some lazy thinking on the issue to my mind, of which I had unknowingly contributed.

I now lean toward de facto amnesty on all but voting rights now, and will explain why below. But I first want to be clear that I think this is a close call and that I certainly respect the efforts of others that encourage self-deportation through e-verify and other means. I also want to be clear that I am not about to aid and abet an open borders policy to garner welfare state voters. Congress should pass a law prohibiting states from allowing non-U.S. citizens to vote in all elections.

The Rule of Law: Written or as enforced

Ken Burn’s new series on Prohibition that began last night on PBS concerns another disrespected law that turned otherwise law-abiding citizens into “criminals” and, seems to me to be instructive on the issue of illegal immigration in America since the first amnesty bill was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan in 1986.

A society cannot abide large pluralities technically defined as criminals, because of the inherent definition of the word as entailing nefarious intent, or mens re. This civilizational rule obtains whether it concerns the seeking of economic liberty or merely a drink of whiskey. Deputy Barney Fife’s incarceration of the whole town of Mayberry for jaywalking also comes to mind.

Yes, it is technically against the law to cross the border, much as adultery was a crime for decades that was never enforced. But when did Americans begin to clamor for enforcement of the former? (They never did for the latter, but I digress…) Only after 20 million moved in and then only after September 11, 2001.

The de facto rule of law before 911 was an open border and the vast majority of Americans acquiesced in that non-Rule of Law. It seems to me a little late and quite unfair to the point of being the equivalent of a Bill of Attainder or  Ex Post Facto law to now treat those that have invested many years of their lives in this Country as if they were spies that sneaked across the Rio Grande to sabotage our infrastructure.

Shouldn’t arguments based on the Rule of Law refer to law that We the People insisted upon being enforced? I think so. Moreover, shouldn’t the party that reveres federalism be understanding of states that can’t deport foreigners but must deal with the actual population within their borders? Obviously.

Aiding and abetting magnets before 911

In-state tuition is not the magnet. It also isn’t a “benefit” or “subsidy”. Colleges aren’t losing money on the fees being paid by their own residents. Out of staters are paying a premium.

The magnet for the 20 million have been many-fold, and certainly we need to return to an immigration system that does not welcome wards of the state. The magnets have been the shining cities of opportunity across the Fruited Plain, coupled with a pre-911 complacent people grown so affluent that they became addicted to abortion and small families.

I am quite aware of small towns, especially in North Carolina a few years ago, that were inundated by hoards of illegals not yet assimilated that disrupted pursuits of happiness. I am certain that in isolated places, illegals have taken jobs that natives would otherwise have taken. But given our birthrate and need for economic growth, I question the extent of claims of major economic dislocation. I am open to data proving same, and I favor a fence to control the future.

But most of the 20 million are here because most American citizens had no real objection until we feared the next 911. But of course, the first Mohammed Atta came in legally and the next could come in via Canada or New York City’s JFK.

Rick Perry hasn’t defended himself well. It is not heartless to first look after one’s own. After all, God himself endorsed the nation-state after he felled the Tower of Babel. But I have come to question the utility of looking after our own by essentially punishing what we wrought through our own actions and inactions, no matter what section of the U.S. Code we could point to when convenient.

I continue to respect those that disagree with me and will not eliminate support for candidates based on this issue. God knows we see the warts of all politicians on debate stages, in New Jersey and in the White House.

But I do think it would be best for the GOP and America to accept our immediate actual neighbors as such, and celebrate their pursuits of happiness everywhere but in voting booths.

Mike DeVine

Editor – Hillbilly Politics

Co-Founder and Editor – Political Daily

Atlanta Law & Politics columnist –  Examiner.com

“One man with courage makes a majority.” – Andrew Jackson

More DeVine Gamecock rooster crowings at Modern ConservativeUnified Patriots,  and Conservative Outlooks. All Charlotte Observer and Atlanta Journal-Constitution op-eds archived at Townhall.com.