The DREAMers and Equality before the Law
My local paper had two letters about DACA the other day, ladies agonizing over the plight of the dreamers. One describes her friend from church, as a talented artist who uses her gifts as an activity director at an assisted learning facility. Because her friend is a wonderful Christian, she says we should all support the Dreamers. The second lady insists that denying the Dreamers citizenship is “to deny the American dream, to say that some may not take part, utterly demolishes a fundamental value of the United States.”
I admit that I am a boring conservative, but one who is neither heartless, nor unreasonable. I know true liberal learning requires knowledge of the world and the people who inhabit it. That is why promising children from time immemorial have been educated by teachers from abroad and encouraged to travel widely.
When we travel, study foreign languages, befriend citizens of other countries, and study the humanities, we learn what all human beings have in common. But one thing all human beings do not share is the same nation-state. Pace globalists who think one world government would be the best and fairest arrangement, history teaches otherwise. At best, it might create open borders, easy travel, and peace, as the Roman Empire did, as well as great wealth for some, but only Roman males enjoyed the full rights of citizens during the time of the empire and much more recently, non-Brits in the British Empire were given second-class citizenship, subject-ship, really, and basically discriminated against in multiple ways. In contrast, the nation-state has been found to be the best arrangement for the protection of rights.
One of our most important rights is equality under the law. This right depends on adherence to the Constitution which requires the legislature to make all federal laws, and no matter how rich, pretty, kind or good, every U.S. resident has to submit to these laws – otherwise chaos results and the rule of law dies, and in its place comes favoritism and political clout. Only crooks want to move to a country where there is no law and order; many people come to the U.S. because here there is law and rights are usually upheld. But nation’s have rights too, and one of these is the rights to control their borders and to determine who is admitted and for what purposes
Sometimes the law is harsh and as Charles Dickens’ character, Mr. Bumble puts it: “the law is a ass — a idiot.” Why? Because it cannot take into consideration all the differences between human beings, the most-worthy or the worst – regardless, we are all equal in the eyes of the law. But despite this downside, equality under the law is always better than lawlessness, and it is especially better for the weak, the poor, and the powerless.
After WW II, Americans realized how much better off we are under our system of government than most of the people in the world. By 1960, JFK was offering to “pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty.” Most people took that to mean we would win the Cold War, but after the Cold War ended, we began decades of nation-building with the good intentions to help other nations enjoy the benefits of liberty and equality under law.
This turns out to be a war we cannot win; so some people now want to let all persons who are unhappy with their own countries into America and allow them to establish communities that replicate those they left behind, including legal systems, like Sharia Law, that do not embrace equality under law. This is a recipe for disaster. A nation must have a people and that people must agree on the kind of law which will govern them. She cannot survive multiple systems of law.
There is much we can do to relieve the sufferings of the Dreamers whose status is compromised due to the illegal actions of their parents, but allowing President Barack Obama to make immigration law was unconstitutional, and the states that filed suit were going to win their suits against Obama’s Executive Order. No President can do this, and Trump was right to insist that if there is to be a law exempting Dreamers from our immigration laws, Congress must pass a bill. The President does have, as the Supreme Court ruled in 1950, the power to exclude aliens, declaring “[It to be] a fundamental act of sovereignty … inherent in the executive power.”
In 1952, an act of Congress reinforced the President’s right to “by proclamation and for such period as he shall deem necessary, suspend the entry of all aliens and any class of aliens as immigrants or non-immigrants” whenever he thinks it “would be detrimental to the interests of the United States.” The right to exclude non-citizens falls under the President’s duty as Commander in Chief to protect the nation’s security. He cannot do the reverse, that is, invite certain classes of people to violate immigration laws that have been passed by Congress.
Besides the two letters from the gentle-women of South Carolina, my paper also had a syndicated column by Rich Lowry. It was titled “The President of the United States Cannot Just Write his own Laws.” I agree with Mr. Lowry; no matter how many Dreamers can benefit or how wonderful they are, writing laws is the prerogative and the duty of the Congress. We should celebrate this return to regular order represented by the President’s appropriate deferral to Congress. Congress has deferred too much of its own power to presidents hungry to exercise it. Citizens must hope that this is just the beginning of a total return of powers to appropriate branches. It’s about time.
As a graduate student, Dr. Christina Jeffrey quintupled the International Student population at The University of Alabama where she was also Director of International Student Affairs. She is an Army brat who studied several languages, lived abroad as a child and again as an adult, she lived and taught in Europe and in the Middle East. In 1995, she was appointed Historian of the U.S. House of Representatives by then Speaker Newt Gingrich. She teaches, writes and speaks on various policy related issues in and around her home in South Carolina.