March 15, 2014

What Happened to the Rule of Law?

Once again, our nation is debating the issue of immigration reform. Or, I should say, the conversation is becoming louder and harder to ignore. Sometimes I agree with the pundits, other times I don’t. In any case, I can enjoy a vigorous debate as much as the next guy. That is, as long as we all play nice. What I cannot abide, is when the combatants (on both sides) use false arguments to make their case.

The current debate: Should we withhold the blessings of citizenship from the children of illegal aliens, who were brought here as children and did nothing wrong? In the view of many, it’s just not right to punish children for the sins of their parents. (For the unfamiliar, this new proposed law is called the Dream Act.)

I don’t know where to start.

Seems to me, it takes a special brand of cynicism to believe that the withholding of a reward – in this case citizenship, or some other regularized status – constitutes punishment. (I’m a pretty good singer; where’s my Grammy? Such injustice.) Which is actually a self-defeating argument, seeing as the adherents of this doctrine generally don’t believe that the parents did anything wrong in the first place.

The thing is, like it or not, children always suffer for the misconduct of their parents. And when I say so, it’s not as a tenet of any polotical ideology or existential precept, nor an affirmation of Original Sin. Teen pregnancy brings an endless cycle of poverty. Drug abuse begets child abuse. Divorce separates kids from one parent or the other. The young’uns did nothing wrong, yet they suffer consequences nonetheless.

I often hear sound bites on the evening news, from legislators who complain that the current immigration law is unjust. Very well, Congressman, where’s your bill to change it? You didn’t have to wait for the Dream Act to make your case, and you don’t have to settle for it now; you can still propose something different.

Oh, I see.

Mr. President, you are the chief law enforcement officer in all the land. You don’t have the authority to just look the other way. Early on, you decided not to defend the Defense of Marriage Act. You worked for years to pass the Affordable Healthcare Act, and now you refuse to implement it – that is, except for the politically unconnected. And you fail to carry out deportations that are required under duly enacted statutes and court orders.

The Constitution requires you to enforce every law everywhere, not just the ones you like. You fought a fierce battle to get elected; now, either you want the job or you don’t. Either you believe in the rule of law, or you don’t. You can’t have it both ways.

Choose now.

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