There are a handful of issues or proverbial political hot potatoes that evoke a tremendous amount of energy, passion, and raw emotion. Immigration is one of those issues. My great grandparents immigrated to America from Italy, settling in Kansas City, Missouri and Cheyenne, Wyoming. They assimilated to American values while holding on to their own important values and traditions. My grandparents often shared stories of how hard they worked, that no one gave them anything, and their sense of pride and accomplishment oozed from every conversation about coming to America. They made important contributions to this country as both of my grandfathers, who have recently passed on, were part of the greatest generation and honorably and courageously fought in World War II, proudly representing and defending their country from tyranny.
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has amassed a groundswell of support in promising to build a wall along the nation’s southern border. Will he? In contrast, there has been a growing voice by many who would like to see open borders in the United States of America. That steady drumbeat is accompanied by a contention that Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton will do just that. Will she? Perhaps it would be more constructive to consider the consequences of opening our borders. Two critical, common sense concerns should leap out at Americans. Those concerns are our sovereignty and our national security. The two are intertwined, joined at the hip, and must be closely examined.
I did my own compare and contrast seeking arguments both for and against open borders. I read a pair of articles, one by Joseph Carens whom was for open borders and the other by David Miller whom was against. Miller suggests that individuals should be able to move freely much as we do in the United States. The right of exit, often restricted by totalitarian regimes, is an important human right. However, in moving freely, there is a rule of law. It does not entail an unlimited right to migrate to the society of one’s choice. For example, we cannot simply move onto private property without the consent of the owner. Just as in the United States, federal laws oversee whom can legally enter the United States. As my great grandparents did, they came to America, legally, became citizens, and contributed to a great nation. Carens, on the other hand, dismisses the significance of a nation’s sovereignty and devalues individual property rights. Much of Carens vision and opinion is based on the arguments of a philosopher named John Rawls. Carens builds his argument based large in part on Rawls “veil of ignorance” where man simply limits himself under the guise of justice, fairness, and everyone being equal. But what is “fair and equal” and who defines it? Who is defining what is fair in Cuba, North Korea or Iran? Who defined what was fair in the former Soviet Union?
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Today we live in a world of global terrorism. We have seen acts of terror in San Bernardino, Fort Hood, Orlando, Paris, Nice, and Turkey. The Syrian refugee crisis has been largely covered by the mainstream media. CIA Director John Brennan has confirmed that ISIS is in fact attempting to infiltrate the United States through those refugee flows, a nugget not covered in great detail by the mainstream media. Further, FBI director James Comey has openly stated the we cannot vet who is entering the United States. The first role of government is that of its citizen’s safety and protecting those citizens against aggression by other individuals. How do we know who is coming into our country and why? Robin Koerner, author of A Legal Immigrants Take on Illegal Immigration brilliantly summarized what the United States government should be focused on, “Any nation needs to know whom it lets in, as part of its responsibility to the security of its citizens. America’s immigration system needs radical reform to allow more good, hard-working people of whatever origin to contribute to the USA.” While I will go on record and agree that the immigration system needs a serious look and arguments can be made that reform is long overdue, opening our borders entirely is not the right answer.
I believe in American exceptionalism. What does that mean? It doesn’t mean that we as Americans are superior to people of other nations. It means that our ideals on which our country was founded are. America and American values played a key role in stopping Adolf Hitler and the Axis powers. America and American values ended the Cold War. How many lives were saved and the number of chains removed from totalitarianism are too high to count. Our shared history, our values and culture, the United States Constitution and the rule of law face serious consequences with open borders and the destruction of sovereignty and our nations safety and security. Instead of opening the floodgates, the policy choices and role of the United States government, both domestically and internationally, should be to promote liberty, individual rights, freedom, and democracy.
Sovereignty is to a nation what liberty is to an individual. A country like the United States has every right to limit and decide what its immigration system looks like. A legal immigration system for passage into a sovereign nation is sensible, reasonable, and rational. How would Israel, for example, look with open borders? I would argue that the results would be catastrophic. Open borders don’t solve problems. Simply put, it creates a brand new set of them.