Texas Senate Bill 4, recently adopted by the Texas Legislature, and related federal initiatives designed to penalize so-called “sanctuary” jurisdictions who give cover to illegal immigrants, have produced a firestorm of reaction. Some of it is understandable. Most credibly, local law enforcement needs communication links in the illegal population that are undermined by the threat of deportation. I get that. But beyond that appeal, although I have compassion, I lose sympathy with those who simply believe that we should be an open border and I certainly am not persuaded by the corporate interests who speak in terms of the damage they feel the new anti-sanctuary laws will inflict on the economy, either by boycott or by disruption of labor markets.
And I know that there are many who disagree, particularly my friends in the business community on the latter point on the economic impact. But we must retain the sovereignty of our people to decide who gets to enter our country. Our founding fathers didn’t visualize the immigration process as a means to boost the labor supply or voting rolls. To maintain the integrity and sovereignty of the nation-state and the rule of law, immigration policy must be first about citizenship, not about new voters, new guest workers, and certainly not about a priority for family reunification.
As I have written before, this issue presents a convergence of often conflicting American passions–our compassion for the underdog, our heritage as an immigrant nation, our free market idealism, and our commitment to the rule of law. I would like to believe that we will resolve it with due respect to all of these instincts, but I know that some parts of all of them might suffer.
The current confrontation across the country, highlighted in Texas by the SB 4 reaction, serves to emphasize the enormous difficulty in unwinding the tangled legacy of the 1986 amnesty under Ronald Reagan. This well-intentioned but failed solution to what was then a relatively modest problem has now mushroomed into an illegal immigrant population of eleven to fifteen million or more people who are entangled in our workforce, our education system, the criminal justice system, and our social services system, not to mention the family and institutional connections that advocate for their interests. This is a mess and the resolution of this entanglement will be very painful on many levels, but it must be done in a way that is true to our sovereignty and the rule of law.
Don Lunde says
Victoria Wind says
Re: “…this issue presents a convergence of often conflicting American passions–our compassion for the underdog, our heritage as an immigrant nation, our free market idealism, and our commitment to the rule of law.” So true. We wrestle with this on the question of refugee settlement as well. It seems that now, though, we can glimpse into the troubled future of what a multi-decade open borders policy can bring, that is, the developments in mainland Europe and the UK. Is there any unraveling peacefully and equitably from that mess?
Danny Billingsley says
Speaking with some authority, there is no doubt local law enforcement needs to be able to deal with people in the country illegally as victims and witnesses of crimes, without reporting them or detaining them for DHS. However, that’s not the issue here. The issue is should local law enforcement be allowed to protect illegal aliens, from deportation by DHS, that are arrested for and/or convicted of other crimes. This whole notion by supporters of sanctuary cities that illegal aliens will not report crimes is false. That just an easy excuse. An interesting open records request for the Harris County Sheriff, and all sheriffs for that matter, is how many open murder warrants, sexual assault warrants and other violent crime warrants do they hold for persons with Hispanic surnames. You would be astounded I think.
Danny Billingsley says
In the above comment I’m not being racist. From personal experience, I have filed murder charges myself and have been told the suspect had fled back to their home country. Until the illegal entry and deportation is taken seriously this will not change.