Does Diversity Really Unite Us? Citizenship and Immigration
Adapted from a speech delivered on April 11, 2018, at a Hillsdale College by Edward J. Erler is professor emeritus of political science at California State University, San Bernardino.
President Trump’s zero-tolerance policy for illegal border crossers has provoked a hysterical reaction from Democrats, establishment Republicans, the progressive-liberal media, Hollywood radicals. What particularly motivated these Trump-haters was the fact that the zero-tolerance policy would require the separation of parents and children at the border. The hysteria was, of course, completely insincere and fabricated, given that the policy of separating children and parents was nothing new—it had been a policy of the Obama and Bush administrations as well.
Furthermore, where is the compassion for the thousands of American children who are separated from their parents every year as a result of arrests and convictions for non-violent crimes? Many of those arrested are single mothers whose infants become wards of the government until their mothers complete their sentences. No hysteria or effusive compassion is elicited by these separations, confirming that the object of the hysteria surrounding illegal border crossers is to force open borders on the nation under the guise of compassion for children.
President Trump’s preferred solution for ending the influx of illegal immigrants and providing border security is a wall; it is also the preferred solution of the American people. Zero tolerance is an interim policy that—if enforced—will help deter illegal crossers. The hysteria provoked by zero tolerance could have been predicted, but its magnitude and sheer insanity are almost breathtaking. And this, which seems almost beyond hysteria, from the elite intellectual class that should be most immune to hysteria.
In the meantime, a Federal District Court judge in Southern California has discovered a substantive due process right guaranteeing the right to “family integrity” lurking in the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment and has ordered all children reunited with their illegal immigrant parents. Obviously the judge expects the parents to be released from incarceration to join their children, but the Trump administration seems determined to keep parents and children together in detention centers until legal proceedings determine their fate.
More than a century ago, the Supreme Court announced what was considered the settled sense of the matter when it remarked: “It is an accepted maxim of international law … and essential to self-preservation, to forbid the entrance of foreigners within [a sovereign nation’s] dominions, or to admit them only in such cases and upon such conditions as it may see fit to prescribe.” This view was reaffirmed in the recent Supreme Court decision, handed down on June 26, that upheld Trump’s travel ban on foreign nationals from eight countries, six of which have majority Muslim populations.
… the majority opinion held that “by its plain language” the Immigration and Naturalization Act “grants the President broad discretion to suspend the entry of aliens into the United States. The President lawfully exercised that discretion based on his findings … that entry of the covered aliens would be detrimental to the national interest.” Few limits have ever been placed on the President’s broad authority to act under the Immigration and Naturalization Act, especially when national security and foreign relations are involved.
In the 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump appealed to the importance of citizens and borders. In other words, Trump took his stand on behalf of the nation-state and citizenship against the idea of a homogeneous world-state populated by “universal persons.” In appealing directly to the people, Trump succeeded in defeating both political parties, the media, political professionals, pollsters, academics, and the bureaucratic class. All these groups formed part of the bi-partisan cartel that had represented the entrenched interests of the Washington establishment for many years. Although defeated in the election, the cartel has not given up. It is fighting a desperate battle to maintain its power.
Historically, constitutional government has been found only in the nation-state, where the people share a common good and are dedicated to the same principles and purposes. The homogeneous world-state—the European Union on a global scale—will not be a constitutional democracy; it will be the administration of “universal personhood” without the inconvenience of having to rely on the consent of the governed. It will be government by unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats, much like the burgeoning administrative state that is today expanding its reach and magnifying its power in the United States. “Universal persons” will not be citizens; they will be clients or subjects. Rights will be superfluous because the collective welfare of the community—determined by the bureaucrats—will have superseded the rights of individuals.
Permission to reprint in whole or in part is hereby granted. “Reprinted by permission from Imprimis, a publication of Hillsdale College.”
Edward J. Erler is professor emeritus of political science at California State University, San Bernardino. He received his Ph.D. in government from the Claremont Graduate School. He has published numerous articles on constitutional topics in journals such as Interpretation, the Notre Dame Journal of Law, and the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy. He was a member of the California Advisory Commission on Civil Rights from 1988-2006, served on the California Constitutional Revision Commission in 1996.
Louis W. Neiger, CLU, is retired from insurance and security planning, he lives in Newberry. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.