"Piecemeal" Immigration Reform is Not Enough

This post by Nathan Fatal of the New England Objectivist Society is reposted here in its entirety, with permission. Thank you, Nathan!
No one should have to do this…

Last Friday, the House of Representatives passed the STEM Jobs Act, which is intended to increase the number of visas granted to foreign students studying science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (hence STEM) in American schools. Under the act, 55,000 permanent residency visas would be granted to foreign students studying the STEM degrees.[1] While at face value the passing of this act seems positive because it will be helping some people to stay in the country without the threat of being deported, it is in fact conceived as a move to slow reform on immigration by enacting “piecemeal” reform instead of comprehensive reform that would benefit all potential immigrants.
The STEM Jobs Bill is a piece of Republican-led legislation, designed to appeal to Hispanic voters without making extreme changes to immigration law.[2] It is the latest in Republicans’ regimen of “piecemeal” reform. As California Representative Darrell Issa explained, “we need to break up the elephant into bite-size pieces…I want to break this [immigration reform] up into passable bill by passable bill”.[3] The target of the bill is the students whose developing skills are highest in demand in the job market, because according to Texas Representative Lamar Smith, “these students have the ability to start a company that creates jobs or come up with an invention that could jump-start a whole new industry”. The intent, then, is to spur economic growth by selecting for STEM skill sets.[4] There are two problems with this approach: while it is true that this “reform”, relative to potential reforms that would select for less-valued skill sets would boost economic growth, it is not the government’s role to decide what demographics, skill-sets, or industries to promote, especially not at the expense of others. Secondly, economics should not even be the central issue in the debate over immigration reform.
On principle, the “piecemeal” approach ignores the fundamental issue at hand: immigrants to this country, whether documented or not, are human beings that enjoy the same fundamental, inalienable rights that Americans do. The job of lawmakers is not to plan ideal economic outcomes, but to ensure that laws defend individual rights, namely, the rights to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness. In the case of immigration, lawmakers must legalize individual rights by welcoming to this country anyone who is willing to work to earn a living, and respect the rights of their fellow Americans. That would entail granting citizenship to all people who come to America to make better lives for themselves.
The STEM Jobs Bill, if enacted, would represent progress only in superficial terms; on net, more people’s rights would be respected to a greater extent. But on principle, there will be no progress. The STEM students would not be viewed as human beings pursuing their own dreams, but as tools for the use of Americans who judge their political success by the standard of annual GDP growth and the support of minority voting blocs in election seasons. They would be statistically, not morally significant. They would be spared deportation and humiliation for the sake of making America richer, not for the sake of being able to lead more fulfilling lives.
For Republicans pushing piecemeal reform, such economic growth is an end in itself, whether or not the means to that end respect individual rights. For the approximately 11.5 million undocumented immigrants not studying STEM subjects, or not studying at all, the potential economic benefits of the STEM Jobs Bill would hardly represent progress.
President Obama’s Executive Order in June offers relief to more people, but is still arbitrary and conciliatory in nature: “Applicants [for the program exempting them from potential deportation] must prove that they were brought to the United States before they turned 16; that they have lived here continuously for the past five years; and that they were in the country and were under age 31 on June 15.”[5] A person’s age is not any more relevant to their rights than their course of study is.
The right to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness belongs to all humans, regardless of where they are born and how well their governments’ laws respect their rights. An individual’s rights do not admit of degrees. As such a piecemeal approach to immigration reform, whether it is based on age, career, or any other morally irrelevant standard, is a piecemeal approach to individual rights and a capitulation of individual rights on principle.  Both parties, in order to remain true to their commitment to defend American values, should enthusiastically support sweeping, radical, rights-respecting immigration reform that would allow unlimited numbers of people of any age and from any location to flock to the doors of whatever firm will hire them and whatever school believes them to be academically capable. “Piecemeal” reform like the STEM Jobs Bill, President Obama’s executive order, and any other rights-violating policies that leave any number of potential Americans in the dust, should be denounced and abandoned.

[1] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/30/stem-act-passage-immigration_n_2219248.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+HP%2FPolitics+(Politics+on+The+Huffington+Post)
[2] http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/11/30/house-debates-gop-backed-bill-that-would-residency-to-advanced-degree-foreign/
[3] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/30/stem-act-passage-immigration_n_2219248.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+HP%2FPolitics+(Politics+on+The+Huffington+Post)
[4] http://judiciary.house.gov/issues/issues_STEM%20Jobs%20Act.html
[5] http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/04/nyregion/for-illegal-immigrants-seeking-a-reprieve-lack-of-documents-is-again-a-hurdle.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

Peikoff Takes Cheap Shot at Immigrants During Election Commentary

In a recent podcast about the results of the recent presidential election, Leonard Peikoff, founder of the Ayn Rand Institute, took a cheap shot at immigrants.  Diana Hsieh properly summarizes, "He claims that immigrants are coming to America en masse for the sake of the welfare state, lacking any American sense of life."

I find Peikoff's comments particularly offensive since the vast majority of immigrants are here to work, not collect welfare.  I also find it disturbing since the namesake of the institute that he founded was herself a Russian immigrant.  Ayn Rand came here to live and work as freely as possible, and better her lot in life, just like so many others before and after her.

You can read the rest of Diana's excellent response to Peikoff's election commentary here.

Update: It was brought to my attention that Peikoff is a Canadian immigrant.  I suppose he came to the US for welfare?  I'm fairly certain he did not, but for him to assume the current lot of immigrants is so different from his own is ignorant, at best.

Immigration Quote

"Biological laws tell us that certain divergent people will not mix or blend. The  Nordics propagate themselves successfully. With other races, the outcome shows deterioration on both sides." - Calvin Coolidge in Good Housekeeping

I wonder how many Americans still believe this sort of nonsense?

Immigration and Individual Rights by Craig Biddle

This article is from The Objective Standard (TOS), Vol. 3, No. 1, and is reposted here with permission from the author and editor, Craig Biddle.  The full contents of the issue are listed here.  If you like what you read, consider a subscription or making a donation to TOS.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Statue_of_Liberty,_NY.jpg

Every year, millions of people seek to immigrate to the United States, and with good reason: Opportunities to improve their lives abound here. Immigrants and would-be immigrants want to pursue the American dream. Whether or not they would put it in these terms, they want to be free to think and act on their best judgment; they want to produce wealth and keep and use it as they see fit; they want to make better lives for themselves and their families. In other words, foreigners want to come to America for the same reason the Founding Fathers established this republic: They want lives of liberty and happiness.

Immigration is the act of moving to a country with the intention of remaining there. Morally speaking, if a person rationally judges that immigrating to America would be good for his life, he should immigrate; a rational morality holds that one should always act on one’s best judgment. But does a foreigner have a right to move to America? And should America welcome him? Yes, he does—and yes, she should. Recognition of these facts was part and parcel of this country’s founding.

The bosom of America is open to receive not only the Opulent and respectable Stranger, but the oppressed and persecuted of all Nations And Religions; whom we shall welcome to a participation of all our rights and privileges, if by decency and propriety of conduct they appear to merit the enjoyment. 1

Unfortunately this pro-immigration attitude, expressed by George Washington in 1783, has all but vanished from American politics. Indeed, the policies of America—the republic built by and for immigrants—have become hostile to immigrants.

Although some foreigners today are fortunate enough to receive special permission to immigrate to the U.S.—via quotas (as if freedom were good only for a limited number of people) and lotteries (as if Liberty were a scratch-card game)—millions more aspiring immigrants are forbidden entry. Today, productive, life-loving immigrants such as Isaac Asimov, Irving Berlin, Andrew Carnegie, Enrico Fermi, Andrew Grove, Itzhak Perlman, Wolfgang Puck, David Sarnoff, Nikola Tesla, Arturo Toscanini, Eddie Van Halen, and Ayn Rand would likely be turned away from the land of the free. Today, the vast majority of would-be immigrants—including physicists from Israel, software engineers from India, restaurateurs from Mexico, musicians from Canada, architects from Brazil, biochemists from Japan, and countless other perfectly good people—are simply shut out of the melting pot. Immigration to the land of liberty is now largely prohibited by American law.

This prohibition, however, is un-American and immoral. The basic principle of America—the principle of individual rights—demands a policy of open immigration.

Open immigration does not mean that anyone may enter the country at any location or in any manner he chooses; it is not unchecked or unmonitored immigration. Nor does it mean that anyone who immigrates to America should be eligible for U.S. citizenship—the proper requirements of which are a separate matter. Open immigration means that anyone is free to enter and reside in America—providing that he enters at a designated checkpoint and passes an objective screening process, the purpose of which is to keep out criminals, enemies of America, and people with certain kinds of contagious diseases.2 Such a policy is not only politically right; it is morally right.

Here is why:

Man lives by means of reason—that is, by acting on his rational judgment. To live, he must observe facts, identify causal relationships, use logic, form principles about what is good and bad for his life, and act on his best judgment. For instance, he must observe that food, shelter, medical care, and the like are necessary for his survival; he must acknowledge that such goods cannot be wished or prayed into existence but must be produced by means of rational thought and effort; he must conclude that producing values is good for his life and that failing to produce them is bad for his life; and he must act on that principle. A person who fails to recognize such facts and take such actions will either soon die or, as is more often the case, exist parasitically on those who do think and produce.3

Because reason is man’s basic means of living—and because reason is a faculty of the individual—a human life, a life proper to man, is a life lived by the judgment of one’s own mind. The basic principle on which America was founded and on which slavery was abolished is an acknowledgment of this fact: Each individual has a moral right to act in accordance with his own judgment, so long as he does not violate the same right of others. This is the meaning of the right to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness. The right to life is the right to act as one’s life requires—which means, on the judgment of one’s mind. The right to liberty is the right to be free from coercive interference—so that one can act on the judgment of one’s mind. The right to property is the right to keep, use, and dispose of the product of one’s effort—which one does by acting on one’s judgment. And the right to the pursuit of happiness is the right to seek the values of one’s choice—which one does by acting on one’s judgment.

Each of these rights—and every other legitimate right—is a species of the right to act on one’s judgment; thus, if we want to protect our rights, we must recognize and reject the one thing that can stop us from acting on our judgment: physical force.

If someone puts a gun to your head and commands “Give me your wallet” or “Take off your clothes” or “Don’t criticize the government” or “Don’t cross that border,” you cannot act on your judgment; you cannot keep your wallet or remain clothed or criticize the government or cross the border. The threat of death makes your judgment—your basic means of survival—irrelevant; you now have to act on the gunman’s judgment. Absent such force, you can act as you see fit; you can keep your wallet, remain clothed, criticize the government, cross the border.

The principle here is: Physical force used against a person prevents him from acting on his judgment—and only physical force has this effect. In other words, individual rights can be violated only by means of physical force.4

This fact gives rise to the basic principle of a civilized society: No one—including the government—may initiate the use of physical force against a human being.5 To the extent that this principle is recognized by a society’s citizens and upheld by its government, that society is conducive to human life; to the extent that this principle is rejected or violated by a society, that society is inimical to human life.

In a civilized society, whether or not a person is legally free to take a particular action depends on whether he has a right to take the action. If the action will violate the rights of others, then he does not have a right to take it; if the action will not violate the rights of others, then he does have a right to take it. There is no middle ground here: Either a person has a right to take a given action, or he does not. And if he does, he morally must be left free to do so.

Suppose, for example, a man in Los Angeles wants to work at a local car wash, and suppose the owner of that car wash wants to hire him. Should the two men be free to do business? Yes. And the reason why they should be free to do business is that each man has a moral right to act on his own judgment, so long as he does not violate the same right of others. In other words, the reason is the principle of individual rights.

The right to act on one’s judgment includes the right to contract with others by mutual consent to mutual advantage. No one’s rights are violated by an employer hiring an employee. The employer might fire another employee to make room for the new, more-desirable employee—but (unless doing so breaches a contract) firing an employee does not violate his rights; it does not prevent him from acting on his judgment. The fired employee remains free to improve his skills or lower his rate or seek another job or start his own business.

There is no such thing as a right to a job—which is why no one ever has or ever will present the facts that give rise to such a “right.” If a person had a “right” to a job, what would that imply? It would imply that someone must be forced to provide him with a job. A “right” that violates a right is a contradiction in terms.

Consider another example. Suppose a man in Virginia wants to move to North Carolina, and suppose a landlord in North Carolina wants to lease the man an apartment. Should the Virginian be free to move? Yes. Should the landlord be free to lease him the apartment? Yes. And why should they be free to take these actions? They should be free to move and to lease because, as human beings, they have the right to act on their own judgment and because neither of these actions violates anyone’s rights. Again, the reason is the principle of individual rights.

Now, let us consider some slightly altered examples.

Suppose a man in Mexico wants to work at a car wash in LA, and suppose the owner of that car wash wants to hire him. Should these men be free to do business? The question here is not whether it is legal for them to do business, but whether it should be legal. What moral principle governs this situation? The principle of individual rights does. Each individual has the right to act on his own judgment, so long as he does not violate the same right of others. Accordingly, these men should be free to do business.

Similarly, suppose a man in India wants to move to North Carolina, and suppose a landlord in North Carolina wants to lease him an apartment. Should the Indian be free to move? Should the landlord be free to lease him an apartment? Again, the governing principle is that of individual rights.

We could multiply examples, but the point should be clear: Foreigners have a right to move to America, and Americans have a right to hire, contract, and associate with them by mutual consent. A government that prohibits or limits immigration thereby initiates force against would-be immigrants—and against those Americans who want to associate with them—and thus violates the rights of both parties. The principle of individual rights forbids this prohibition and mandates open immigration.

Individuals possess rights not by virtue of their geographic location or national origin or genetic lineage, but by nature of the fact that in order to live they must be free to act on their basic means of living: their judgment. This principle, in conjunction with the fact that rights can be violated only by means of physical force, gives rise to the need for a government—an institution with a monopoly on the use of physical force in a given geographic area—the proper purpose of which is to protect individual rights. A government serves this function by banning the use of physical force from social relations—and by using retaliatory force as necessary against those who initiate (or threaten to initiate) force. But a government has a moral right to use force only in retaliation and only against those who initiate its use; it has no moral right to initiate force against anyone—citizen or non-citizen, within or without its border—for any reason.6

America’s border is not properly a barrier for the purpose of keeping foreigners out; it is properly a boundary designating the area in which the U.S. government must protect rights. Rights-respecting foreigners who want to cross that boundary in order to enjoy the relative freedom and abundant opportunity in America have a moral right to do so. Likewise, American citizens who want to associate with foreigners in rights-respecting ways—whether through friendship, romance, recreation, or commerce—have a moral right to do so. And Americans who do not want to associate with foreigners have a moral right not to associate with them. But no one—including the government—has a moral right to prevent anyone from acting on his judgment.

To prohibit a person from immigrating to the U.S. is to violate his right to act on his judgment; it is to retard his ability to live a life proper to man; it is to commit a moral crime.

Arguments against open immigration abound, but all of them are invalid. None of them names a principle (i.e., a general truth) by reference to which limiting immigration is a requirement of human life—and each of them calls for actions that violate individual rights. Let us consider several and see, in pattern, how they fail to make their case.

1. “This is our country, and we have a right to refuse entry to foreigners.”

No one owns America. American individuals and corporations own specific tracts of land, homes, businesses, automobiles, and the like; and the owners of this property can rightfully prohibit others from entering or using it. But America as such—America the country—is not owned by anyone.

There are two kinds of property in America: private property and so-called “public” property. Whereas private property is owned by individuals and corporations, “public” property, which is allegedly “owned by everyone in general,” is actually owned by no one in particular. This is why no one in particular can dictate how it will or will not be used. Consider that if citizen Jones insists on permitting immigrants to enter “his” portion of “public” property, but citizen Smith insists on prohibiting immigrants to enter “his” portion, the conflict cannot be justly resolved. Someone’s “right” to “his” portion of the property “owned by everyone in general” is going to be violated. This and the countless similar conflicts arising from the notion of “public” property point to the invalidity of such property—property which, by its very nature, violates individual rights and generates an endless stream of irresolvable rights disputes.

There are no facts of reality that give rise to the need for “public” property, thus there is no principle governing the use of such property; there is only this person or group’s desires against that person or group’s desires—and, of course, the old saw that “might makes right.” Since there is no principle governing the use of “public” property, there can be no principled argument for excluding immigrants from using such property. But there is a principle governing the actions that all individuals should be free to take by nature of the requirements of human life—namely, the principle of individual rights—and that principle implies that immigrants should be free to use “public” property.7

Americans who wish to permit immigrants to visit or use or purchase their private property have a moral right to permit them. And Americans who want to prohibit immigrants from visiting, using, or purchasing their private property have a moral right to prohibit them. But no one has a moral right to stop others from acting on their judgment. So says the basic principle of civilized society—the fundamental principle of America—the principle of individual rights.

The “This is our country” argument for prohibiting or limiting immigration to America is invalid and un-American.

2. “We Americans have a right to our culture, which immigrants erode.”

There are three possible interpretations of this claim: (a) “We have a right to preserve the racial makeup of our culture”; (b) “We have a right to preserve the language of our culture”; and (c) “We have a right to preserve our lifestyle choices.” Let us consider them in that order.

If by “We have a right to our culture” opponents of immigration are speaking of a right to preserve the racial makeup of their culture, then what they seek is not to protect American culture but to “achieve” something on the order of Nazi culture. Nothing more need be said about that.

As to preserving the use of English in America: In one sense, Americans have both a moral right and a political need to do so; in another sense, however, they have no such right or need. An official national language is necessary for the purpose of clarity and consistency in government documents and legal proceedings. In America, that language obviously should be English, the language on which the country was built. But there is no such thing as a right to force someone to speak English, or to bar him from speaking Spanish or French or any other language. That said, just as American immigrants throughout history have learned to speak English out of practical necessity, so most American immigrants today eventually learn to speak English out of practical necessity: The ability to speak English makes one more competitive in the free market. The major shelters from this necessity are: (1) the welfare state, which substantially obviates the need for immigrants to compete, and (2) the status of “illegal alien,” which gives rise to black markets in which English is unnecessary. Americans concerned about immigrants learning English should oppose welfare programs and advocate a policy of open immigration, under which the now thriving black markets would wither away.

Finally, if by “We have a right to our culture” opponents of immigration are speaking of a right to their lifestyle preferences—their music, their cuisine, their mode of dress, and so forth—then they should be arguing not against immigration but for open immigration: The right to one’s lifestyle preferences means the right to one’s pursuit of happiness (i.e., the right to seek the values of one’s choice), which one exercises by acting on one’s own judgment while respecting the right of others—including immigrants—to do the same.

The only culture to which anyone can have a right is a culture of respect for and protection of individual rights. Fortunately for those who love and want to preserve American culture, the principle of individual rights is the basic principle of that culture; respect for that principle is an essential characteristic of a true American; and foreigners who immigrate to America, for the most part, embody that characteristic.

The “We have a right to our culture” argument against immigration is at worst unspeakably evil and at best an argument for open immigration.

3. “We Americans have a right to our jobs, which immigrants take, and to our wage rates, which immigrants lower.”

As mentioned earlier, there is no such thing as a right to a job; such a “right” on the part of one person would necessitate the use of force against others. Nor, for the same reason, is there any such thing as a “right” to a wage rate, which would violate the rights of employers and employees to set mutually beneficial terms of doing business with each other.

If a man is fired from a job—or if his wages are reduced—because a willing immigrant is able to do the job better or cheaper, no force has thereby been used against the fired man; he remains free to act on his own judgment. He can and should either improve his skills or offer his services for less or seek another job or start his own business or think of something better to do. But he has no right to have the government prevent the employer and the immigrant from doing business with each other.

The desire of certain U.S. workers and labor-union members for the government to grant them an entitlement to a job created by someone else—or to a wage paid by someone else—is not an argument against immigration, but a consequence of a false and grossly un-American premise: the notion that “might makes right.” In reality, and in accordance with the basic principle of America, whether a person is best qualified for a given job is determined not by a gun but by the free market. No one, and no group, has a right to forcibly exclude from the marketplace those with whom he or they cannot compete—and no true American would claim such a right or advocate such force.

The “We Americans have a right to our jobs and wage rates” argument against immigration is invalid and un-American.

4. “Immigrants come to America to live on the public dole via our welfare programs, and we simply can’t afford to support them.”

Most immigrants do not come to America to live on the public dole; most come to enjoy America’s (relative) freedom, to work hard, and to be self-sufficient. The fact that some immigrants come to America to leech off our welfare state is an argument not against immigration but against the welfare state—which, by coercively redistributing the wealth of productive Americans, attracts foreign parasites (and encourages domestic ones).

Punishing an individual for someone else’s wrongdoing is patently immoral—and the wrongdoing here is not just that of the relatively few immigrants who seek welfare handouts. The greater wrongdoing is that of the American intellectuals, citizens, and politicians who established and who maintain the welfare state. For America to bar would-be immigrants from entry to America because of immoral “welfare” policies instituted by Americans is the height of injustice.

What should we do about the problem of welfare with regard to immigrants? We should mercifully bar immigrants from any involvement in this legalized violation of rights. This would be good both for immigrants and for Americans.

In order to live the good life, immigrants, like all human beings, need to develop and maintain the virtue of independence; they need to face the demands of reality and live by their own thought and effort. Precluding them from receiving the so-called “benefits” of welfare will help them to develop or maintain that virtue.

More importantly, barring immigrants from receiving welfare will be a step in the direction of recognizing and protecting the property rights of American citizens. (The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, which barred immigrants from receiving most welfare “benefits” for their first five years in America, was a step in the right direction.)

Immigrants should also be ineligible to use government schools, which are worse than welfare programs. Whereas welfare programs merely provide people with stolen goods for “free,” government schools retard the minds of children while forcibly charging their parents and neighbors for the “service.”

By not receiving stolen goods, immigrants would retain the natural incentive to earn their success by working. And by not using government schools, immigrants would have the opportunity to provide their children with quality education—whether by sending them to private school or by homeschooling them. (There are many immigrants here in southern California who already do one or the other.) Of course, insofar as immigrants are excluded from receiving welfare and using government schools, they should also be exempted from paying taxes toward these illegitimate programs.

That is the solution to the problem of welfare with regard to immigrants. (A similar solution applies to the related problem of doctors and hospitals being forced to provide immigrants with “free” medical goods and services. The solution is that such force morally must be stopped.)

The “Immigrants seek welfare, so we can’t afford them” argument against immigration is not an argument against immigration; it is an argument against the welfare state and all its life-thwarting manifestations. Punishing would-be immigrants for the moral failings of a few immigrants—and for the moral failings of Americans and their intellectual and political leaders—is immoral.

5. “Statistics show that immigrants commit a lot of crime. The more immigrants we allow into the country, the more crime we will suffer.”

Yes, there are statistics showing that some immigrants commit crime. There are also statistics showing that some native-born Americans commit crime. Statistics showing that some people commit crime, however, say nothing about what any particular person will do; and group statistics as such are wholly irrelevant to the question of whether an individual should be free to act on his judgment.

People, including immigrants and would-be immigrants, have free will; they choose to think or not to think, to act on reason or to act on feelings, to respect individual rights or to violate them. A person’s choice to respect or violate individual rights is not dictated by his national origin or his race or his language, but by his philosophy, which can be either rational or irrational, depending on whether or not he chooses to think.8

If an immigrant chooses to be irrational and commits a crime, then, like anyone who commits a crime, he should suffer the consequences of his wrongdoing. But the presumption of innocence reigns here: An individual is logically and morally to be presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Individuals who leave socialist, communist, or theocratic hellholes to seek a better life in America are not criminals to be punished but heroes to be admired (would that more Americans were so inspiring). To arbitrarily judge them as corrupt or to condemn them to the third-world hell into which they were accidentally born on the “grounds” that some immigrants commit crime is logically absurd and morally obscene.

The “Statistics show that immigrants commit a lot of crime” argument is an evasion of the self-evident fact of free will, and it betrays a thoroughly collectivist mentality on the part of those who advance it.

6. “Open immigration might be practical under laissez-faire capitalism, but it is not practical under a welfare state. We cannot institute open immigration until we’ve achieved laissez-faire capitalism.”

This claim—which amounts to: “We can’t begin implementing the principles of laissez-faire capitalism until we live under laissez-faire capitalism” or “We can’t begin upholding the principle of individual rights until the principle of individual rights is fully upheld”—reverses cause and effect.

The only way to achieve a fully rights-respecting society is to begin moving incrementally in that direction, by consistently taking action in every area in which such progress is possible. We must make a concerted effort toward (among other things) eradicating so-called entitlement programs, liquidating government schools (i.e., establishing a free market in education), repealing antitrust laws, eliminating eminent domain, implementing a self-interested foreign policy, and establishing a policy of open immigration. None of these aspects of a free society can ever be fully accomplished apart from a principled effort to accomplish the whole, but each and every one of them can be accomplished step-by-step over time—if we grasp and appeal to the principle by reference to which each is a morally necessary measure: the principle of individual rights.

The “We must wait for laissez-faire” argument against open immigration is invalid and betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of positive political change.

7. “Open immigration makes it easy for terrorists to enter the U.S.; American security requires immigration restrictions.”

What makes it easy for terrorists to enter America is (a) the 12,000-mile perimeter of the contiguous forty-eight states (not to mention Alaska and Hawaii) combined with (b) the fact that the U.S. government has not eliminated the states that sponsor terrorism.

The solution to the problem of terrorists harming or threatening Americans is not to violate the rights of would-be immigrants, but to annihilate the states that sponsor terrorism. Islamic terrorism against the “Great Satan” is not a lone-wolf activity; it is fueled and made possible by the material and spiritual support of Islamist regimes—regimes such as those in Iran and Saudi Arabia. To end terrorism against America, we must end such regimes.

Banning Mexicans, Canadians, Indians, and Sudanese from seeking the American dream has exactly nothing to do with ending terrorism or protecting America. Neither closed borders nor limits on immigration can stop terrorists from entering this country. All that is accomplished by banning or limiting immigration is the violation of individual rights.

Those concerned about terrorists harming Americans should advocate (a) the summary elimination of all regimes that have financed or called for or otherwise incited harm to Americans, and (b) a policy of open immigration to the “Great Satan.” With the state sponsors of terrorism destroyed, and with an American policy of open immigration in place, anyone attempting to enter the U.S. at a non-designated location could legitimately be considered a threat to the rights of Americans and dealt with accordingly.

The “American security requires immigration restrictions” argument against open immigration is invalid and suicidal. To violate the rights of would-be immigrants while ignoring the wrongs of American-murdering regimes is unjust and insane.

The foregoing examples demonstrate that one cannot argue from a rights-respecting, American perspective against a policy of open immigration—because the basic principle of America, the principle of individual rights, mandates open immigration.

Bearing that in mind, what should we do about the estimated 12 million “illegal” immigrants currently residing in the U.S.?

In light of the immoral and illegitimate law they “broke” by moving to (or remaining in) America—and in light of the suffering they have endured by being labeled “illegal” (e.g., having to live in the shadows, not being able to market their goods or services openly, not being able to use banks or credit cards, etc.)—the solution to the problem of so-called “illegals” is to grant them unconditional amnesty and a presidential apology. Just as the principle of individual rights mandates open immigration, so too it mandates amnesty for those whose moral actions were made “criminal” by immoral laws. (“Amnesty” is really the wrong word, as one logically should not have to be “pardoned” for having acted morally, but there is no accurate word for what has been necessitated by our irrational immigration policy.)

Some argue that granting amnesty to “illegal” immigrants would make a mockery of the rule of law and that “illegals” broke our laws and should be held accountable for having done so. On the contrary, what mocks the rule of law is the existence and attempted enforcement of anti-immigration laws.

Upholding the rule of law does not mean upholding whatever laws happen to be on the books. Should the citizens of Nazi Germany have turned Jews over to the Gestapo? Nazi law dictated that they must. Would the refusal to obey that law have been a mockery of the rule of law? Should the citizens of theocratic Iran behead apostates? That is what Shariah law calls for. Would refusal to do so mock the rule of law? Should Americans living in the North in the 1850s have returned runaway slaves to their Southern “owners” in compliance with the Fugitive Slave Act? Did violators of this act mock the rule of law?

Upholding the rule of law does not mean enforcing illegitimate laws; it means establishing and maintaining a government and legal system based on the objective social requirements of human life—namely: the recognition and protection of individual rights. Laws that violate individual rights are illegitimate laws, and such laws morally must be repealed. Consciously “violating” such laws in order to sustain and further one’s life (or the lives of others) is not a violation of the rule of law; it is a recognition of the fact that valid moral principles trump invalid political policies.

(This is not to say that it is proper to disobey any and every illegitimate law. There are contexts in which it is morally right to obey laws that are morally wrong—because violating them would harm one’s life. For instance, it is morally right to pay one’s taxes, because refusing to pay them will land one in jail. But such value judgments can be properly made only by reference to the principle that what is right depends on the requirements of one’s life, all available and relevant facts considered.)

Although the political status of 12 million immigrants now residing in America is “illegal,” the moral status of most of them is: American. They risked life and limb to get here; they do everything they can to stay here; and they endure all the trouble that comes with being labeled “illegal”—all in pursuit of a better life for themselves and their families in the freest country on earth. What could be more American than that?

As to the specific steps required to achieve a rights-respecting and thus moral immigration policy for the U.S., here is a broad five-point plan, all aspects of which should be advocated simultaneously and by reference to the moral principle that mandates them: the principle of individual rights.

  1. Repeal all laws restricting immigration; do away with all quotas, visas, green-cards, and the like; make open immigration the law of the land.
  2. Establish an objective screening process at designated points of entry along the U.S. border; turn away (or detain) only criminals, enemies of America, and people with certain kinds of contagious diseases.9
  3. Grant unconditional amnesty to all so-called “illegal” immigrants, and apologize to them for the trouble our immoral laws have caused them.
  4. Exclude immigrants from receiving welfare and from using government schools—and exempt them from paying taxes toward these immoral programs.
  5. Declare war on Iran; eliminate its current regime; and announce to the world that, from now on, this is how America will deal with regimes that threaten our citizens, our immigrants, or our allies. Turn next to the Saudi regime. Repeat as necessary.

Accomplishing these measures will require substantial time, effort, and intellectual activism, but there is no shortcut; these are the actions necessary to solve the misnamed “immigration problem,” which is, in fact, a problem of too few Americans recognizing, embracing, and upholding the basic principle on which America was founded.

Those who argue that the “immigration problem” is too “pressing” and requires more “expedient” measures—or too “complex” and requires measures more “agreeable” to opponents of individual rights—either misunderstand the nature of the problem or choose to evade it. The problem, however, is what it is, and if Americans want to solve it, we must recognize its actual nature and proceed accordingly.

Help defend the rights of foreigners to immigrate to America and the rights of Americans to associate with them. Fight this battle by understanding and appealing to the principle of individual rights. It is the proper governing principle in politics, and it mandates open immigration.

This article is protected by copyright law. Permission is hereby granted to excerpt up to 600 words, providing that the excerpt is accompanied by proper credit to the author and a link to the full article at the website of TOS. For permission to reproduce longer excerpts, contact the editor ateditor@theobjectivestandard.com.


Acknowledgments: I wish to thank Alan Germani for editing this article, and Joe Kroeger and John David Lewis for their helpful comments on the manuscript. —C. B.

1 The Writings of George Washington (Washington D.C.: United States Government Printing Office, 1938), ed. John C. Fitzpatrick, vol. 27, p. 254 (capitalization and spelling in the original).

2 Carriers of deadly contagious diseases such as cholera, diphtheria, infectious tuberculosis, smallpox, yellow fever, and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)—who would thus pose an objective threat to the lives and health of Americans—are legitimately forbidden entry to America (unless they are being safely transported to a private facility for medical treatment). Exactly where the line should be drawn regarding the immigration of people carrying less-dangerous contagious diseases is a technical matter to be determined by medical and legal experts.

3 Regarding the principle that reason is man’s basic means of survival, see Ayn Rand, “The Objectivist Ethics,” in The Virtue of Selfishness (New York: Signet, 1964), esp. pp. 22–29; and Craig Biddle, Loving Life: The Morality of Self-Interest and the Facts that Support It (Richmond: Glen Allen Press, 2002), esp. pp. 53–62.

4 Regarding the evil of initiatory force and the principle that rights can be violated only by means of force, see Rand, “Man’s Rights” and “The Nature of Government” in The Virtue of Selfishness, pp. 108–117 and 125–134 respectively; and Biddle, Loving Life, pp. 103–128.

5 The rights of children are more complex than those of adults, and there are situations in which it is morally appropriate for an adult to use force to stop a child from acting on his judgment. An article on this subject is in the works for a future issue of TOS.

6 For more on the proper purpose of government, see Rand, “The Nature of Government,” in The Virtue of Selfishness, pp. 125–134; and Biddle, Loving Life, pp. 117–128.

7 For more on the problem with “public” property and the propriety of exclusively private property, see Biddle, Loving Life, pp. 119–23.

8 Regarding the nature of free will and the choice to think as the primary choice, see Rand, “The Objectivist Ethics,” in The Virtue of Selfishness, pp. 22–25.

9 See note 2.

Americans Don't Want Immigrants' Jobs

The following story comes from a friend of mine down in Texas. texas-with-texas-flag1

I heard a great story the other day and thought of you.

I was at [a grass sod farm in Texas] yesterday. While in the office paying for my grass, I started to talk to the managers about how busy it has been and how hard it has been to get workers. They explained that most of their workers are H2B Visas. I've looked into this program but not only is it expensive to get guys (starts at around $3,500 a head) you have to get a minimum of 7 guys and you don't save any money unless you get 25 or more. Anyways, I was asking them how it has been working out. They love the guys that they get, they are starting to get sons and grandsons of previous and current workers.

The best part, and the reason I write to you is, they were telling me about all the inspections they have to go through, and how much paperwork they have to do. One of the biggest requirements of the program is that the company HAS to do everything in their power to hire local workers. From ads in papers, to signs by the road. They laughed as they told me that every year, about 2 or 3 guys show up at the office and after they hear about the amount of hours, and the type of work, they just walk out.

They said something, I've been saying for years, "There is no unemployment problem in America, there's an unwillingness to work problem."

(H/T Aaron Arguien via Facebook)

Election Outcome Forcing GOP to Rethink Their Immoral Immigration Stance

The election of the awful, statist Barack Obama to a second term as US President leaves many in America wondering what wentGOP wrong.  How is it possible that someone so anti- and un-American could get elected to a second  term?  I think there are two answers to that question.

First, many voters simply disliked Romney more than Obama.  (How pitiful is that?!)  Obama is a guy that more Americans can identify with.  He's a slick talker, and he tells people what they want to hear.  Romney is the guy with a horse in the Olympics.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not claiming that is a good method by which to select our country's leader, but likability is a huge factor.

Second, the Republicans lost the Latino vote.  Granted, Obama has been the worst president ever on immigration.  He has deported more people than all presidents combined, but he keeps promising immigration reform.  The Republicans are only promising more deportations. 

Since the election on Tuesday, Republicans appear ready to admit that their stance on immigration may be flawed:

House Speaker John Boehner on Friday said it was time to address immigration policy and urged President Barack Obama to take the lead in coming up with a plan that would look at both improved enforcement of immigration law and the future of the estimated 11 million people living in the country illegally.


“Sean Hannity has taken a bold step and conservatives are behind him. It is time to allow the market — rather than a bureaucratic federal government — to determine our immigration policy,” Aguilar said, according to a press release.

I certainly hope Republicans follow through on meaningful, moral immigration reform.  It's time for them to do something "right."

Texas DPS Officer Shoots Unarmed Undocumented Immigrants from Helicopter

This story is atrocious. Two unarmed, undocumented immigrants were shot and killed by a Texas Department of Public Safety Officer from a helicopter.DPS

From StopTheDrugWar.org:

"During the pursuit, the vehicle appeared to have a typical 'covered' drug load in the bed of the truck," Vinger said. "DPS aircraft joined the pursuit of the suspected drug load, which was traveling at reckless speeds, endangering the public. A DPS trooper discharged his firearm from the helicopter to disable the vehicle."

The truck swerved, then came to halt after a tire was punctured. No drugs were found in it, but it was carrying nine Guatemalan nationals, one of whom was wounded by gunfire in addition to the two who were killed.

Guatemalan consul in McAllen, Texas, Alba Caceres said all the men had traveled together from the city of San Martin Jilotepeque in Chimaltenango, paying $2,000 each to get to the US-Mexico border and another $3,000 to be transported to the interior US. Most were headed to New Jersey. The group had crossed the Rio Grande River Thursday morning and walked six hours through the scrub before meeting up with the pick-up truck, Caceres said.

"We need a serious and big investigation into this case because I cannot understand why DPS made the decision to shoot them," she said. "I have never seen something similar to this."

After talking with survivors, Caceres later told the Associated Press the men told her the tarp covering them in the bed of the pick-up blew off the truck during the chase, leaving them clearly visible from the air.

The ACLU is asking some good questions, and I hope they get answered!

"What we know so far raises disturbing questions," Burke said. "Why is a state game warden involved in enforcement of federal immigration law? Why is a game warden in dangerous high-speed pursuit of people who were suspected of nothing more than a civil offense? And where's the 'public safety' when a trooper in a helicopter opens fire on unarmed persons in a vehicle on a public road?"

Immigration Humor from The Onion

The Onion's Issue-By-Issue Candidate Guide

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"They're Taking Our Jobs"

A note from a friend:

I was listening to someone spouting the "They take American jobs" argument today... and I got to thinking.

If these people really believe there is such a thing as "American Jobs" as some sort of Platonic form that must be defended... then shouldn't also the existence of "State Jobs" be inferred? And what about "District Jobs", and "Neighborhood Jobs?" Since these people believe that there is such a thing as an "American Job" that the state must keep some filthy immigrant from taking (never mind that they never ask the question of how can someone take what you never had...)--- shouldn't the government also be making laws to prevent someone from another neighborhood from taking your job? Just like we don't allow immigrants from coming in and 'taking our jobs', the same principle would demand that we also not allow other Americans from coming in and 'taking our jobs'--- look at that, the concept implodes upon itself! One ends up with the realization that you can't have a job qualifier solely by nationality instead of ability ....if you are a rational person who has swallowed up the baloney, that is. If you're an irrational emotionalist, the only conclusion left is that, yes, people should not be allowed to move in order to take new job offers, because you're 'taking someone else's job' who may live in that neighborhood and MAY apply for it in the future--- even if they actually haven't.

Repost - MoE's First Blog Entry

Here's an excerpt from my very first post to Mother of Exiles.  It features a link to my favorite article about open immigration, and a video that a dear friend of mine made.

First, here's the link to a wonderful article by Craig Biddle from The Objective Standard.  Here’s an excerpt:

Immigration is the act of moving to a country with the intention of remaining there. Morally speaking, if a person rationally judges that immigrating to America would be good for his life, he should immigrate; a rational morality holds that one should always act on one’s best judgment. But does a foreigner have a right to move to America? And should America welcome him? Yes, he does—and yes, she should. Recognition of these facts was part and parcel of this country’s founding.

“The bosom of America is open to receive not only the Opulent and respectable Stranger, but the oppressed and persecuted of all Nations And Religions; whom we shall welcome to a participation of all our rights and privileges, if by decency and propriety of conduct they appear to merit the enjoyment.” 1

Unfortunately this pro-immigration attitude, expressed by George Washington in 1783, has all but vanished from American politics. Indeed, the policies of America—the republic built by and for immigrants—have become hostile to immigrants.

I hope you’ll read the full article.  Craig addresses many of the common complaints about immigration and proposes solutions.

And finally, I just love this video my friend made about immigration to the US.  Once my other pages are up and running, I plan to have this on my home page.  Thanks, Pablo!

Republicans, The Election, and Immigration

My friend, Paul Hsieh from FIRM blog, forwarded me the following:

Ruben Navarette discusses both opportunities and dangers for Republicans [in this CNN article]. This phrase caught my eye:

"If you're a Republican, you have to have a lot of nerve to try to make political hay out of the president's failure to fix the immigration system, given that the GOP has played a major role in keeping it broken over the years by offering bumper sticker solutions to complex problems, pandering to racists and nativists, and failing to deal honestly with the fact that illegal immigrants do jobs that Americans won't do."

Paul writes about individual rights as they relate to health care, so if you like Mother of Exiles, you ought to check out his blog. 

Thanks for forwarding this article, Paul!

Repost: The Unethical Nature of Current Immigration Laws: Ayn Rand’s Theory of Rights contra Current Immigration Rhetoric

By guest blogger Keith O'Neilbill-of-rights
In this heavily-charged political atmosphere, the issue of immigration once again  Is at the forefront of political discourse. Candidates sharpen their campaign strategies, seeking to align their positions with the most popular and crowd-pleasing platform. Second only, perhaps, to marriage, no other subject has provided so much discourse, controversy and disagreements than that of the immigrant and his or her place in America. As it is usually common in times of economic frailty or recession, general sentiment has recently turned against the role of immigration as a whole, with candidates of either party making certain that they are not too welcoming or friendly to the idea of immigrants.
Several pieces of legislation have come and gone over the years seeking to address ‘the immigrant situation’, and yet the issue has never properly been addressed on the grounds of ethics. No single politician has asked what is the proper immigration policy for America? Politicians have ignored all ethical discourse and have remained ensconced in pragmatism- the results of which have created a baroque and overcomplicated immigration policy that violates the rights of all parties. The answers to the questions not yet posed by legislature are contained within the ethical theory of Ayn Rand’s Objectivism.
How does, then, a proper application of the Objectivist ethics look like in the realm of immigration? Firstly, we must understand the origin of Rand’s stance on rights, and look at the present state of immigration policy as it is. From there, we will then apply an Objectivist critique and proposal to solve the issue at hand, and finally address common objections to an Objectivist Ethics proposal.
As Craig Biddle writes in his article, “Ayn Rand's Theory of Rights”, “Rand discovered that an organism’s life is its ultimate value and thus its standard of value—the standard by which all of its other values and actions are to be evaluated. A tree’s standard of value is the requirements of its life as set by its nature. A tiger’s standard of value is the requirements of its life as set by its nature. And a man’s standard of value is the requirements of his life as set by his nature. Ayn Rand’s ethical theory rests exclusively upon the rights of the individual as necessary to his existence, as only life makes values possible. The pursuit of those values, Rand argues, must be done from a rational position, to determine what is the individual’s rational self-interest (this, unlike many of Rand’s opponents believe, does not discard emotions as unnecessary, but the issue of emotional integration is outside of the scope of this paper) and how to best go about in its pursuit. From the metaphysically given fact that existence makes the pursuit of values possible, Rand explains in “The Objectivist Ethics” that
“Metaphysically, life is the only phenomenon that is an end in itself: a value gained and kept by a constant process of action. Epistemologically, the concept of “value” is genetically dependent upon and derived from the antecedent concept of “life.” To speak of “value” as apart from “life” is worse than a contradiction in terms. “It is only the concept of ‘Life’ that makes the concept of ‘Value’ possible.” (18)
Making the concept of value a concept dependant exclusively of the concept of life, Rand sets up life as the standard of all moral value. This value is not exclusive of one individual or a collective, but rather it is an intrinsic property of each individual, in accordance with the metaphysical nature of a human- and so the violation of those metaphysically-necessary values against one individual by another was an act of immorality. In order to protect those values, and by the necessity of the nature of a man or woman’s existence, Rand points to the concept of rights as an acting principle that stands in the protection of these values, especially when establishing a context in which an individual is to interact with others. To quote Rand:
“Rights” are a moral concept—the concept that provides a logical transition from the principles guiding an individual’s actions to the principles guiding his relationship with others—the concept that preserves and protects individual morality in a social context—the link between the moral code of a man and the legal code of a society, between ethics and politics. Individual rights are the means of subordinating society to moral law.(108.)
The principle of rights essentially define and protect an individual’s freedom in society, affirming his nature as an entity for whom the pursuit of values is not only necessary, but vital. Rand’s moral theory, unlike other moral theories, does not hold that the reward of morality is morality itself or some floating abstraction, but rather that the reward of morality is life itself – the ability for the individual to prolong his own life and to thrive, provided it is done morally (Rand, for example, holds that thriving through the imposition of force on others, or violating their rights and property, is immoral- it undermines the basic principles that make any value possible.)
The principle of rights, therefore, takes shape in Rand’s philosophy as the right that an individual has to be protected from the acts of coercive force. Coercive force is defined as any act impinging upon an individual’s right to his life or his property. Explicitly laying down the principle, Rand states that
“The basic political principle of the Objectivist ethics is: no man may initiate the use of physical force against others. No man—or group or society or government—has the right to assume the role of a criminal and initiate the use of physical compulsion against any man. Men have the right to use physical force only in retaliation and only against those who initiate its use. The ethical principle involved is simple and clear-cut: it is the difference between murder and self-defense. A holdup man seeks to gain a value, wealth, by killing his victim; the victim does not grow richer by killing a holdup man. The principle is: no man may obtain any values from others by resorting to physical force.” (32)
Under the present immigration system, immigrants wishing to make their way in the United States face enormous obstacles: decades of baroque legislation have transformed what once was a relaxed immigration system into a veritable maze that only few are able to navigate successfully. Employers seeking to sponsor a foreign national for a work visa must, for example, invest around $7,000 in paperwork and legal fees to start the process. (U.S. Department of State) The following step consists of the potential employee being entered into a “lottery” in order to compete for one of the coveted visas- of which only 65,000 are granted a year by the government (should the employee be unlucky enough not to get a visa during the random lottery, his employer cannot recover the money invested). Should he be fortunate enough to secure one of the coveted visas, he must still wait six months before allowed to work for the employer. While the H-1B visa process is only one of many different processes and visas available in the immigration system, they all follow similar procedures and principle.
Analyzing the unethical nature of current immigration policy, Objectivist philosopher Dr. Harry Binswanger points out that citizenship or residence with a country is not necessary in order to, as individuals, enjoy a moral entitlement “to be secure from governmental coercion against one's life, liberty, and property. In the words of the Declaration of Independence, government is instituted "to secure these rights"—to protect them against their violation by force or fraud(Binswanger, “On Open Immigration”, The Harry Binswanger List), this moral entitlement is not granted by nationality, but by the metaphysical nature of being human. Yet the existence of the specific requirements of these visa programs and caps (only a certain number of visas are allotted each year, by category and country) essentially criminalizes any foreigner who is not lucky enough to be favored in the green card lottery (a random lottery, again restricted by country, with a limited number of green card winners.)
How is this criminalization unethical? The sole act of requiring the granting of a work visa so that an American citizen may hire a foreigner is a violation of the most basic rights of both parties involved. The American employer, as owner of his business, has the full right to determine who is best suited to work for him or her, under his own standards as a business owner. The government intervention, however, violates that right: the law sets a series of standards, government-mandated standards, that he must meet as an employer (how much he must pay for salary, how much he must have advertised to Americans without success before hiring a foreigner is preferable) and that the foreigner must meet as a prospective employee (level of qualification for the job at hand, even if the employer does not regard degrees as pertinent)- these are third-party impositions that are involuntarily forced upon what otherwise would be a simple transaction between free-acting individuals. The element of coercive force is evident: Should the employer refuse to follow the standards the government has chosen for him and simply hire whom he thinks is the best employee (in this case, a foreigner) without the circuitous process that takes up to half a year, then the act is deemed “illegal” and carries the penalty of fines, prison (for employers) , deportation and blacklisting (for the employee.) If the employer has a right to his property, by what principle is he not allowed to exercise it when the exercise thereof causes no violations of rights? The simple answer is: No such principle can exist and still remain concomitant with the right to life, they cannot exist in the same ethical structure because what one grants, the other denies.
There exists, therefore, no right nor principle that can prevent an individual from entering freely into a transaction, as long as such transaction does not prove to be a violation of rights. Is there, then, a violation of rights that happens upon hiring a foreigner? The act of hiring an individual, specifically a native-born citizen, is not illegal. Then, what is the element that turns the transaction illicit? Nationality? By what process does simply having a nationality become immoral and illegal? Binswanger illustrates the fallacy of this in his example:
“If I want to invite my Norwegian friend Klaus to live in my home, either as a guest or as a paying tenant, what right does our government have to stop Klaus and me? To be a Norwegian is not to be a criminal. And if some American business wants to hire Klaus, what right does our government have to interfere?” (Binswanger, On Open Immigration).
Binswanger indicates that the premise at work in these situations is that ‘we’ have a right to restrict who comes into ‘our’ country. Notice the ambiguous ‘we’- what is the definition of this ‘we’? American soil is under no collective ownership- were it so, it would be abolish the individual’s right life and property, for property that belongs to one individual and to all individuals is a paradox- akin to belonging to everybody and nobody at all- and life is unsustainable without property, the ability to dispose of the fruits of one’s efforts in accordance with our best judgment. While an individual has the right to bar access into the boundaries of his property, he does not have the same right outside of those boundaries. The immigrant exists under the same principles of value-from-life as the native of any nation does, and his rights are not subverted by any appeal to collective ownership of land, which is a fallacious appeal to begin with.
One of the common objections to immigration takes different guises: that immigrants lower the quality of life of native-born Americans, that they bring crime, harm the economy, and similar. Immigrants, the arguments go, lower the quality of life of Americans by “taking jobs away” from Americans. The issues with this argument are plain to see at once—if we assume that there is some entitlement to work (there isn’t), then yes, immigrants would be infringing that entitlement. But the elephant in the room is the question that follows the previous assertion: If immigrants harm Americans by “taking away their jobs” – what do the proponents of these objections plan to do about the Americans who “take away the jobs” of other Americans? If every American citizen is entitled to a job, then it means that for every American citizen who is accepted into a company, all of the other applicants have been harmed by being denied the job to which they were “entitled.” Are we, then, to use the same penalties for every American citizen that is hired to a job, because of the ‘harm’ he brought to the other candidates? Of course not, and opponents of immigration would reject that argument outright- but the truth remains that it is an argument that is the direct and logical conclusion of their premises. The cornerstone of that particular guise of the argument rests on the principle of work entitlement. But are we truly ‘entitled to a job’?
A right to a job (or right-to-work) implies that a job must be guaranteed to every individual. Rights, in the legal sense of the word, must be enforced and protected by a government, one of its legitimate functions. How would government enforce this right-to-work, if not by using its legislative and coercive force to make individuals hire other individuals- whether they wish so or not. It is not an altogether strange idea, since current immigration laws forbid individuals from hiring individuals they do wish to employ. This argument, then, is fallacious. As are all other arguments listed so far, since they fall under the category of collective claim. Immigrants should be left out because they might be criminals? What about the American citizens who are criminals, why is their right to be in the country not revoked? Why is potentiality punished, rather than actual action? The answer is the same as to the right-to-work issue: There is no such principle at work, nor can there ever be one.
All arguments against immigration have one thing in common: a collective claim to some sort of ‘quality of life’ which is somehow harmed by immigrants. The invalidity of that argument was addressed by Ayn Rand in her Question and Answer period in the 1973 Ford Hall Lecture:
“No one has the right to pursue his self-interest by law or by force, which is what you’re suggesting [with closing the borders and impede immigration]. You want to forbid immigration on the grounds that it lowers your standards of living—which isn’t true, though if it were true, you’d still have no right to close the borders. You’re not entitled to any ‘self interest’ that injures others, especially when you can’t prove that open immigration affects your self interest. You can’t claim that anything others may do—for example, simply through competition—is against your self interest. But above all, aren’t you dropping a personal context? How could I advocate restricting immigration when I wouldn’t be alive today if our borders had been closed?”
Rand attacked the core of the argument. It is very easy to see that the argument of restricting immigrants because they allegedly affect someone’s “quality of life” could easily be turned against other individuals who allegedly impinge upon someone’s “quality of life” - specifically the group of individuals who can easily be outvoted: minorities (these are exactly the same arguments used against gay marriage today, and which were used against integrated classrooms, marriages, etcetera.) One of Rand’s constant reminders was that the proper role of government was to protect the minority from the tyrannies of a majority- and that the smallest majority was the individual.
The penultimate opposition to open immigration, and in particular the pardoning of illegal immigrants, falls along the appeal to the Rule of Law. Even though immigration laws have become so obtuse as to be almost unmanageable, and even though it restricts liberties and freedoms without basis, and even though the process, as has been mentioned, violates the rights of all parties involved, opponents of immigration call for heavy penalties for ‘illegal’ immigrants because they broke the law of the land in order to come into the country and seek a better life for themselves (exactly the same, it would be good to point out, that most of the ancestors of these opponents did in their time—the only difference being that immigration laws at the earlier twentieth century were far more rights-respecting.) This appeal to blind obedience is essentially a disguised Kantian Categorical Imperative, by which (for example) all laws are to be respected and to act against them is wrong. Rand has, on many occasions, spoken about the moral malignancy of Kant’s philosophical system, but it becomes crystal clear when we simply change the law being broken but retain the same principle at hand. Let the law be, for example, the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. Said law, forged during the split between the North and the South in matters of slavery pre-Civil war, requires all found runaway slaves to be returned to their masters.
This treatment allows, then, for the perpetuity of unjust laws (such as most current immigration laws), and therefore no progress shall ever be accomplished. Any law that violates the rights of the individuals must remain forever embedded on the books of the legislature, the violability of rights being insignificant (to these argumenters) compared to the sanctity of law- essentially inverting the rational order of government by making humans serve the law, and not have laws that serve the rights and well being of humans. The argument from the Sanctity of Law must be discarded immediately, for no moral law could ever subvert the spirit of the inalienable rights of the individual.
Finally, the last argument against immigration is also the argument that will allow to condense all previous hostile arguments, and facilitate the formulation of an ethical alternative. Opponents of immigration cite the lack of security, especially around the border. The argument alludes to the potential presence of terrorists and criminals slipping through unsecured borders, and therefore proving that tighter security and closed borders are necessary. However, what is never fully explored by the proponents of this argument is that these conditions were caused precisely by current immigration laws. By making legal access to the country nearly impossible, the immigration system has essentially created a ‘black market’ of immigration in the guise of Coyoteros (people who specialize in smuggling immigrants through the border), fence-hoppers, visa-shams and other similar situations.
Under the principles of Rand’s ethics, immigration isn’t a privilege- it is a right, based solely on the right for an individual to choose the course of his life and property in the manner that he sees fit as long as he does not infringe upon the life or property of others. The black market in immigration is nothing more than a sense-of-life reaction to a rights-violating regulation: individuals will go to great lengths to secure their basic rights, even in the face of tyrannical controls. This was the case with a similar regulatory violation, Prohibition, and the same could be said for the War on Drugs. Individuals have the right to determine the course of their lives--- whether it be positive, rational endeavors such as immigrating to a country to find better fortunes, or indulge in a moderate drink in a relaxed social atmosphere, or whether it be negative or even criminal, such as immigration with intent of crime, and complete substance abuse. The laws of a republic’s judicial system are in place in order to enact appropriate punitive action towards those that violate the rights of others: the immigrant who steals will receive his sanction, the substance abuser will be penalized should he drive, for putting the lives of others at risk. Prohibition and the War on Drugs caused no decrease in the use of those substances in question- and it has not created a change in immigration, either. Rather, it has conflated the issue.
All across the border, an uncountable number of immigrants crosses ‘illegally’ each day. Uncountable, because the Border Patrol of the United States is stretched to the limits in its attempts to secure the border. The risk lies in the fact that hidden among the majority of, let’s face it, innocent immigrants (there is no moral crime in the pursuit of that which is a legitimate right, and any law seeking to impede it is, in fact, the moral criminal) are individuals who come to the country with far more nefarious purposes, but using the large number of ‘border-hoppers’ as a screen.
This is the practical result of current immigration policy: the creation of a situation that is unmanageable and which, in the long term, will put the United States at risk in a manner from which it cannot defend itself. Since Ayn Rand defines morality and ethics as the codes that make life possible, sustainable, and able to thrive—can it be honestly said that, by their results alone, these immigration policies are ethical, or even moral? Rather, the interventionist streak of the pragmatist philosophy espoused by politicians, combined with the Categorical Imperative, have created an unsustainable situation.
So what is the rational, ethical, and moral option? Harry Binswanger and most student of Ayn Rand favor an open borders policy that allows people to come into the U.S., work and obtain residence (not citizenship- the issue of whether citizenship should even be given freely at birth is another issue tackled by Objectivists, but it is outside of the scope of this paper) in a mostly hassle-free procedure that consists of a background check and proper identification.
The reason for the background check is simple: while a government may not impede a rights-respecting individual from entering the country, the legitimate role of government is to protect its citizens against threats- and this includes both terrorists and criminals alike. The procedure itself would cost no more than that of a background check (state police checks range from as little as $19.95 to as much as $49.95 ) instead of tens of thousands of dollars as most current immigration processes go.
With this ethical alternative, we would have given legitimate immigrants a means by which they may cast their own lot legally. With a far more expedient procedure and less paperwork, most immigrants will pass through the process as they did when they entered the United States through Ellis Island, many generations ago. Across a far more depopulated border, we will find those who will still be trying to cross the border: The criminals, terrorists and similar individuals who would have red flags in their backgrounds. Of course, catching every single criminal is unrealistic, just like it is impossible to pinpoint which US-born citizen will become a criminal or a terrorist until they act (like Mohammad Atta, but also like the Unabomber) , but the important principle at work is that the system is no longer punishing individuals because they might be something, but rather are treated with courtesy or restrained for what they are, which is shown through their actions.
This provides an ethical means through which to stop the worst threats and the most blatant criminals, who find themselves no longer being able to use millions of people as shields- people whose sole ‘crime’ is that of wanting to breathe free. As a result, the border patrol has a much easier job, the job industry is revitalized with immigrants working both in low-skilled areas and high skilled areas, and a system is in place that, finally, respects the rights of the individual.
Sources Cited
Biddle, Craig. “Ayn Rand's Theory of Rights: The Moral Foundation of a Free Society.” The Objective Standard. Fall 2011. Vol 6. Glen Allen: Glen Allen Press, LLC, 2011. Print.
Rand, Ayn. “The Objectivist Ethics”, The Virtue Of Selfishness, A New Concept Of Egoism. New York: Signet, 1964.
Rand, Ayn. “Man’s Rights”, The Virtue Of Selfishness, A New Concept Of Egoism. New York: Signet, 1964.
Binswanger, Harry “On Open Immigration”, The Harry Binswanger List
Ayn Rand, Ford Hall Forum, 1973.
U.S. Department of State, "Temporary Worker Visas." U.S. Department of State, 2011. Web. 29 Mar 2012.

Repost: The Defense Of Marriage Act: End unconstitutional tyranny upon individual rights and the rights of immigrants.

By Guest Blogger, Keith O'Neil
Immigration legislation unfairly discriminates against binational LGBT couples in the United States, placing unconstitutional hardships before them by refusing toLGBT Liberty and Justice Kissing  validate the contractual validity of their relationships and exposing them to deportation and separation, traumatic hardships which their heterosexual counterparts do not have to face.
Based on census data from 2000, Immigration Equality has estimated that there are approximately 36,000 same-sex binational couples in the United States. Over 45% of these couples have children [1]. Furthermore, in 79% of said binational families, the non-citizen partner is from a country that doesn’t provide immigration benefits to these couples. The situation therefore becomes one in which each partner is completely unable to offer sponsorship for a process of naturalization common to most heterosexual marriages in which the spouse is able to provide a permanent means of residence for the spouse[2].
In a heterosexual binational marriage in the United States, if an American citizen were to marry a foreign national of the opposite gender, the aforementioned national is eligible for a process of naturalization. Should they reside outside of the United States prior to the matrimonial contract, they may enter the United States through a special ‘fiancé’ visa known as the K-1 Visa. Once married, they may file for adjustment of status and enter the Green Card process. While often a long and protracted process, if the marriage is not fraudulent a spouse is granted naturalization status in a time period between three and five years[3]. This process is unattainable for same-sex binational couples thanks to the Defense of Marriage Act.
The Defense of Marriage Act (from here on referred to as DOMA) was signed into law by President Bill Clinton on September 21, 1996. Section 3 of the Act amends Chapter 1 of title 1 of the United States Code in the following manner:
In determining the meaning of any Act of Congress, or of any ruling, regulation, or interpretation of the various administrative bureaus and agencies of the United States, the word 'marriage' means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and the word 'spouse' refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife.[4]
Once passed into law, DOMA proceeded to completely annul the possibility of any committed binational same-sex couple, should they marry in a state which allows for same-sex marriage, to initiate naturalization procedures- effectively preventing one spouse from sponsoring the other for a Green Card. The resulting scenario thus forces binational same-sex couples to exist in a state of uncertainty that no other kind of relationship in the United States has to undergo. Due to the current state of immigration policies, most legal immigrants have a slim chance of attaining a coveted Work Visa, and few have the significant funds to qualify for an Investor’s Visa[5]. In a struggle to remain together, most couples resort to enrolling the foreign partner in an educational institution for an F-1 Visa. A scenario that is echoed all throughout the country is that of Frances Herbert and her Japanese partner, Takako Ueda. Featured in an article on the Brattleboro Reformer, in order to remain with her partner Ueda had to obtain a student Visa: “Ueda enrolled in classes at Keene State College soon after arriving in the United States despite the culture shock and her limited grasp of English. Last year she earned her third degree in 10 years. With the expiration of her visa looming, Ueda said she exhausted every possible avenue, looking for a way to remain with her partner.[6]
The issues with the student scenario are worsened by the prospect of financial drain: international students under an F-1 Visa never qualify for in-state tuition and thus must pay out-of-state prices throughout the length of their degrees. That brings the cost of a full academic year at an institution such as the University of Colorado in Boulder to $44,560 per year[7], and $20,000 per year at a community college such as Colorado’s Front Range Community College[8]. Students must take a full course load, or have their Visa status revoked. If this by itself were not daunting enough a price to meet on a yearly basis, two facts make the situation even more forbidding: International students do not qualify for most available scholarships or financial aid, and they are not allowed to work outside of campus to supplement their income under penalty of revocation of status.[9]
Further complicating the situation is the fact that on-campus employers often prefer students who qualify for the Federal Work Study program, as it essentially provides them with students whose earnings are paid for by federal funding.[10] As expected, international students do not qualify for Federal Work programs, and as such the available positions open to them are few and far between. An international student may apply for authorization to work off-campus, but only if: (a)they can prove financial hardship, (b) that their workload will not affect their academic performance and (c) they have been in the United States for at least one full academic year.[11]Approval for off-campus employment is good for one year, and If the student wishes to continue off-campus employment, they must reapply- which can result in a revocation of status under the argument that the student should not be in the United States if they cannot support their education. As Ueda’s scenario demonstrates, this is a state of affairs that can only be temporary, as the international student must put all productivity on hold and drain their financial resources until they can no longer finance their education. Eventually after several degrees, Immigration authorities will suspect the student of ‘Immigrant Intent’ and deny any further visas.
Outside of the extremely costly Investors’ Visa, there are no Visas that allow a foreigner to be self-employed. Even should a foreigner be able to obtain the much-coveted and seldom-awarded H-1B work visa, they cannot be self-employed and earn additional income: doing so will render them out-of-status.
Eventually, and in the majority of cases, money runs out or visas stop being renewed due to suspicion of “immigrant intent”, the quest for the H-1 Visa Grail fails, and the inevitable outcome looms ever closer: every one of those 72,000 individuals faces the choice of being forcibly separated from their longtime partners. Most of these couples have been together for years and even decades, and find themselves leaving behind splintered lives and the deafening absence of the other. This reality is so foreign to the average American that he or she may fail to fully comprehend the enormity of it, and a dramatization may be necessary to paint the full image: Imagine that the person whom you have chosen as your life partner, whose life you have decided to share, whose habits have been integrated into yours, whose tastes, companionship, histories and background have become as part of your own history as your birthplace and family have, is removed by force from your life and sent to a remote location by a government that does not consider your relationship a valid one. You are left with only two options: Seek a means to be re-united with your partner on American soil (unlikely after deportation or expiration of status), or abandon the country and place of your birth in favor for their country – but only if their country recognizes your relationship. If that is not the case, neither of you have recourse to repair your forcibly-shattered life.
While an emotional appeal may be powerful enough to elicit sympathy in cases such as these, Americans need to realize that the issue is far from being simply a question of emotions- but that these cruel and tragic circumstances have been brought about by the deliberate violation of constitutional principle and individual rights. The formulation of the Defense of Marriage Act was introduced at a crucial time in United States in which it was expected that Hawaii and other states would legalize same-sex marriage. Opponents, members of the Religious Right movement, became keenly aware that under the 14th Amendment, other states would be obligated to uphold matrimonial contracts from such states, and thus open the floodgates for further marriage reform in other states. Hence, DOMA was drafted as a measure by which the Religious Right could bypass the issue and be able to define the concept of ‘marriage’ as it applies to all United States citizens.
We may find a telling example of the exposed principle that drives the political crusade by examining the rhetoric of Stand For Marriage Maine (SFMM), a subset of the National Organization for Marriage, a non-profit established in 2007 to prevent the legal recognition and acceptance of same-sex marriage in the United States[12].
During its campaign to defeat a same-sex marriage proposition in Maine, SFMM posited on its website: “If Question 1 fails and LD 1020 is allowed to take effect, marriage will be redefined to be about any two consenting adults without regard to gender, the focus being only about what the adults want for themselves, and not what is best for society as a whole. If allowed to take effect, LD 1020 would throw to the trash heap Maine’s decades-old interest in traditional marriage and legalize homosexual, genderless marriage.[13]
The assumption that rhetoric such as SFMM smuggles as an accepted claim is it is proper for government to restrict the right of an individual to enter into a contract of his own choosing with another individual. Furthermore, the sentence insinuates that it is perfectly within the rights of a sufficiently agitated majority to restrict other individuals from entering into a specific kind of contract (in this case, a civil marriage contract) simply because they are in disagreement with it. This, in fact, is not true at all: as long as the terms of the contract and its actions do not violate the individual rights of others, individuals are protected by the principles individual rights– they are free to enter into a marriage contract or other kind of contract if they so desire.
For the citizenship to have the power to prohibit a couple of the same sex from entering into said contract, there would have to be an explicit right to specifically delimit relationships of third parties. No such right exists and no such right could exist because its philosophical and legal repercussions would be devastating upon individual liberties: with these principles put into practice, one group may prohibit a set of individuals from entering into a contract of marriage because of religious grounds, racial grounds, public opinion, et cetera. Specific provisions by the Constitution protect the rights of the individual from the use of coercion by government on a federal or state level.[14]
To be specific, SFMM and DOMA’s rhetoric specifically violate the 14th amendment of the Constitution which guarantees equal protection (emphasis added):
No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.[15]
The intent to violate equal protection is evident in the fourth line of SFMM’s website excerpt: ‘The focus being only about what the adults want for themselves, and not what is best for society as a whole.’ Upon reading this excerpt it behooves us to ask: who is ‘society’? What rights does ‘society’ have that it supersedes the rights of the individual? In this example, just as in all other examples of arguments using ‘social theory’ rhetoric throughout the ages, same sex couples are not part of ‘society’ and their benefit is not part of ‘what is best for society.’ The main intent consists solely on denying or imposing a course of action upon a third party simply because a majority has decided it must be so, without any necessary proof other than testifying that they ‘speak for society,’ and in this particular species of argument “society” always happens to be everybody but the parties being coerced. On this principle of ‘social theory’ at work, Rand said that “Although it claims that its chief concern is life on earth, it is not the life of man, not the life of an individual, but the life of a disembodied entity, the collective, which, in relation to every individual, consists of everybody except himself.[16]
There are no special rights that are conferred when two or more people are gathered together against a third party- each individual has his own rights, which are no different from any of the rights those around him hold. The argument from social theory would have you believe that consensus equals truth, but that is not the case: Society is not a beast apart from the individual unit (it is, in fact, nothing more than an abstract concept that subsumes the total sum of individuals living within a specific social framework)—what is good for the individual is what is ‘good for society’, and what is good for the individual is to have his individual rights respected and enforced: to impede two individuals from defining their relationship in legal terms is infringing those rights.
There is a large and intentional confusion when it comes to the term ‘marriage’ as it is applied to the non-ecclesiastic function of two individuals signing a legal contract with the intent to share their assets and their lives. Opponents of same-sex marriage have used this tactic over and over again, obscuring the nature of the argument to muddle the definition of what exactly is being discussed. Opponents of same-sex marriage use charged rhetoric in order to emotionally confuse ecclesiastic marriage, the ceremony by a religious officiator unites the couple in question before their shared deity, with contractual civil marriage. This is, in fact, not the case, as the entities of civil marriage and religious marriage are separate and it is impossible to treat them as a single entity: one is a legal contract, the other one a religious ritual, and neither has any effect on the other by virtue of the first amendment to the Constitution. The contract that a couple signs when marrying through City Hall is, in fact, a civil union, regardless of the specific genders of the couple in question.
A marriage contract, such as is performed through the government, is a contractual agreement whereby two individuals mutually promise to live together as a legally interrelated whole for life, or until the legal termination of the relationship. Rand, arguing on the principle of government, observed that “the only proper functions of a government are: the police, to protect you from criminals; the army, to protect you from foreign invaders; and the courts, to protect your property and contracts from breach or fraud by others, to settle disputes by rational rules, according to objective law.[17]” The proper role of a rights-respecting government therefore is contradictory with the aims of NOM, SFMM and ultimately the mandates established by DOMA: third parties do not have the right to delimit the legal relationships into which consenting individuals enter, and neither does the government have the right to exercise one of its primary functions (the upholding and defense of contractual agreements) based upon a religious principle. The first amendment to the Constitution reads (added emphasis):
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.[18]
The first clause, commonly referred to as the establishment clause, shows evidence that a number of the founding fathers such as Thomas Paine and Thomas Jefferson felt that established religion, under the auspices of state enforcement, would serve as a threat to freedom. This is plainly evident in Jefferson’s 1802 letter to the Danbury Baptist Association:
Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between Church and State. Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties.[19]"
The majority of arguments against gay marriage are religious in nature[20], and indeed that is the case with government-based opposition: rhetoric featuring the term “sanctity of marriage” is the first and foremost spearhead directed against any attempts at counter-legislation. In 2006, President George W. Bush, on his weekly radio program, called upon Congress to pass a constitutional amendment in order to ban gay marriage, expressing his opinion that marriage “cannot be cut off from it cultural, religious, and natural roots.[21]” Arguing for a contractual law to mirror religious creed is a blatant disregard for the first amendment, and alluding to cultural and ‘natural’ roots are part of a common logical fallacy known as The Appeal To Antiquity, where the claimant asks his or her audience to assume that the mere fact that an idea has a long tradition or life behind it is an immediate and irrevocable implication that it is, in fact, true.[22] One would only need to point to the pre-Civil War South and its long ‘tradition of slavery’ as an example of how this kind of reasoning is completely fallacious. One may also equally point towards humanity’s long tradition of racism to indicate that, in fact, a racist attitude is not only right, but “natural” as well. Appeals to antiquity disintegrate quickly when exposed to oxygen.
As it has been explained before, opponents of same-sex marriage do not have a constitutional or rational reason to oppose the rights to which, by constitutional principle, should be granted. The effect of continuing to disregard individual rights and constitutional principle is that scenarios such as Takako Ueda’s are repeated tens of thousands of times all across America, separating individuals who have no reason for being treated as second-class citizens, and tearing families asunder simply because certain elected representatives do not believe they should be families in the first place. The United States of America is not a Democracy, where a majority may willingly vote away the rights of a minority- it is a Constitutional Republic, with checks and balances placed by the Constitution upon the power and reach of government upon the lives of its individual constituents to prevent scenarios like these. The ordered death of Socrates was a fully democratic act carried out by the people of Athens,[23] and it was scenarios like these that the fathers of the Constitution sought to avoid with the original document and its first tend amendments called “The Bill of Rights” which guaranteed the inalienable rights of an individual, even against overwhelming votes.
Opponents continue to fight the issue, citing that same-sex marriages are “special rights”- that is, rights not found in the original Constitution and for which special legislation had to be effected[24]. However, this argument also falls apart in contradiction when examined: The drafting of DOMA, a specialized piece of legislation, proves that special treatment was actually given to a group of religious ideologies to interfere with the natural course of events as guaranteed by the 14th amendment. Unless one were to argue that the Constitution and its amendments initially promoted ‘special treatment’ (which would render the purpose of the Constitution as a document establishing individual rights impossible), there is no option but to discard the argument of ‘special rights’ immediately. The question is impossible to ignore: why did it take a special action from a focused interest group to sign legislation that obstructs a constitutional amendment from honoring same-sex contractual marriages, as they would have been under the fourteenth amendment? There was, in fact, a ‘special treatment’ granted in the issue of same-sex marriage, but in this case it was granted to the Religious Right in flagrant disregard for constitutional principle.
The only conclusion to which a rights-respecting individual, under Constitutional principle, can arrive at is that there is currently a subset of the American population that is suffering extreme injustice, discrimination and persecution. These are not special rights that have been taken away from same-sex binational couples, but basic constitutional rights that have been restricted through political maneuvers by the Religious Right. Such a situation cannot be tolerated nor can it be allowed to stand. There are two courses of action to which I exhort the reader, after presenting the arguments in favor of this case:
Support the Uniting American Families Act: Representative Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) reintroduced U.A.F.A. in the House of Representatives. Said bill has been presented to the house over a course of ten years, constantly being re-introduced, and which would allow the provision of ‘same sex partnerships’ to immigration procedures, allowing committed same-sex relationships to qualify for immigration and naturalization benefits without depending on the repeal of DOMA (which might take several years in court). And,
Support the Repeal of the Defense Of Marriage Act: U.A.F.A may be considered a stopgap measure in order to prevent further deportation of innocent, rights-respecting same-sex couples that have run afoul of the Religious Right’s legislation, but the ultimate goal to which any rights-respecting American must aspire is towards the full and absolute repeal of the Defense of Marriage act on the grounds that it violates individual rights, and specifically the first and fourteenth amendments to the United States Constitution. In order to become involved in the process to pass both U.A.F.A. and repeal DOMA, I urge the reader to refer himself to the Immigration Equality Action Fund at http://immigrationequalityactionfund.org/ and follow the guides in place for action.
Sources Cited
1. Immigration Equality: About Us. http://www.immigrationequality.org/about/
2. Immigration Action Fund: Statistics and Facts.http://immigrationequalityactionfund.org/press/facts/
3. Travel State Gov: Nonimmigrant Visas for Fiances.http://travel.state.gov/visa/immigrants/types/types_2994.html
4. Federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), Pub. L. 104-199, 100 Stat. 2419 (Sept. 21, 1996)
5. Visas for Treaty Traders and Treaty Investors, Travel.StateGov,http://travel.state.gov/visa/temp/types/types_1273.html
6. Jaime Cone, Vermont Couples In Limbo From Defense of Marriage Act,http://www.immigrationequality.org/clippings/vermont-couple-in-limbo-from-defense-of-marriage-act/
7. Information for International Students, Undergraduate Admission, CU Boulder ,http://admissions.colorado.edu/undergraduate/finances/international
8. Community College International Student Admissions, FRCC ,http://www.frontrange.edu/international/
9. Student Visas, U.S. Department of State,http://travel.state.gov/visa/temp/types/types_1268.html
10. Federal Work Study Program, U.S. Department of Education,http://www2.ed.gov/programs/fws/index.html
11. Off-Campus Basic Guidelines, ICE,http://www.ice.gov/sevis/employment/faq_f_off1.htm
12. NOM: About NOM,http://www.nationformarriage.org/site/c.omL2KeN0LzH/b.3479573/k.E2D0/About_NOM.htm
13. Why Marriage Matters, SFMM, http://www.standformarriagemaine.com/?page_id=115
14. 14th Amendment, U.S. Constitution Online,http://www.usconstitution.net/xconst_Am14.html
15. Constitutional Law, Legal Information Institute,http://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/Constitutional_law
16. Ayn Rand, “The Objectivist Ethics,” The Virtue of Selfishness, 34.
17. Ayn Rand, “Galt’s Speech”, For the New Intellectual, 183.
18. Constitution of the United States of America,http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/constitution.html
19. Jefferson’s Wall of Separation Letter, U.S. Constitution Online,http://www.usconstitution.net/jeffwall.html
20. Common Arguments Against Gay Marriage, About.com,http://atheism.about.com/od/gaymarriage/p/ContraGayMarria.htm
21. Comely Beattie, “Preserving the Sanctity of Marriage”, Common Dreams,http://www.commondreams.org/views06/0605-25.htm
22. Appeal To Antiquity, Logical Fallacies,http://www.logicalfallacies.info/relevance/appeals/appeal-to-tradition/
23. Doug Linder, The Trial of Socrates,http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/socrates/socratesaccount.html
24. Tom Strode, “Opposed to ‘gay marriage’ , ‘special rights’ Bush says”, Baptist Press,http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?id=6657