Is Ideological Screening of Immigrants Acceptable?
On September 20, 2023, Agustina Vergara Cid wrote an article for the New Ideal, published by the Ayn Rand Institute, titled “Ideological Screening is Un-American.” Trump is criticized for his desire to keep communists, Marxists, and socialists out of our country. The reasoning is that ideological screening will “take America one step closer to totalitarianism” because “giving the government power to screen immigrants’ ideologies means handing government the expansive power to police everyone’s ideas,” and this would mean ending the freedom of thought. I disagree.
The purpose of screening is to protect our citizens from those who would abuse individual rights. Communists, Marxists, and socialists should be kept out of the country. They have no respect for individual rights such as freedom of thought. Their goal is to destroy the United States.
The article states: “Freedom of thought isn’t limited to the ‘right’ ideas as decided by politicians or government censors -- or by anyone else other than the individual.” Individuals don’t live in isolation, but in a society. Therefore, government is developed under an ideological system. Our government was founded on the idea of self-government, representing the ideas of the people and taking actions to ensure the rights of its citizens.
But then the article goes on to say, “In fact, government’s only role here is to protect our freedom to think and express our ideas.” That isn’t the government’s only role. It has other responsibilities, including protecting our country from invaders. How will we maintain our right to think and express ourselves if we turn our society into a chaotic mass of looters, moochers, and communists? When they overwhelm us with crime, will we still be able to think and express ourselves? The reality is if you don’t screen for merit and ideology, then you ruin your society. Besides, the right of freedom to think and express ideas comes from an ideology!
Later in the article, the author supports the government identifying and stopping harmful people: “As the protector of individual rights, our government does have a role screening for foreign agents, members of terrorist groups and other actors actively seeking to initiate force to impose their ideas.” Oh, so now she supports screening? Just not ideological screening? When she even admits that these bad actors “are acting to violate other individuals’ rights, in the name of their ideology”?
Every government abides by an ideology. Our republic’s ideology is spelled out in the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights, and this ideology forms the basis for our laws. Our government already governs its citizens according to this ideology, and the ideas put into law by our citizens through representative government.
We the people, who have a government that represents us, and we the people, who pay the taxes, have every right to specify who can and cannot enter our country. How do we determine this? That depends on the circumstances such as war, certain hotbed regions of terrorism, pandemics, and so on. There is no universal formula, because the threats of 100 years ago are different from today. The citizens of a free country delegate power to the federal government to determine threats, and oppose them. Immigration policy is an aspect of defense policy and the Congress can make any law the people choose, but any policies need to be based on what is in our interest. America first.
The author states, “Government has no business deciding people’s ideology -- whether citizens or not.” Sure, but refusing entry into the United States is not controlling anyone’s ideology. The consequence of being denied entry is not the same as imprisonment. Secondly, that statement is equating immigrants with citizens. The issue is immigration, it isn’t about how to handle citizens who don’t respect individual rights. If a bad citizen violates our laws, he is not deported like an immigrant, he is sent to jail. Besides, just because we already have bad people here, we just throw up our hands and let more in?
Screening has to take place in order to find enemies and terrorists. Otherwise, everyone enters. It is proper for our government to ask questions to determine why someone wants to come here. Do they agree with respecting individual rights or not? Do they agree with our country's ideology? If not, they should not be admitted.
You don’t screen out the bad guys with questionnaires. They are screened out with interviews and background studies as has been done in the past by the experts. If the screener is unable to determine if a person is eligible to enter, then that person should not be admitted. Our government does not owe them anything; we are not obligated to let anyone enter. The onus is on the immigrant to prove that he qualifies. If we end up deporting immigrants who don't agree with our ideology, we have to deport them, which costs us money. So, we might as well head them off at the pass.
In order to become a citizen of the United States, immigrants need to meet certain requirements. One, which the founding fathers stipulated, is to be of good moral character. They must take a test which proves they understand the Constitution, and take the citizenship oath which states they will support and defend the Constitution.
The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution embody ideologies and are the basis for our government, citizenship, and our way of life. Ayn Rand explains that:
A free nation -- a nation that recognizes, respects and protects the individual rights of its citizens -- has a right to its territorial integrity, its social system and its form of government. The government of such a nation is not the ruler, but the servant or agent of its citizens and have no rights other than the rights delegated to it by the citizens for a specific, delimited task (the task of protecting them from physical force, derived from their right of self-defense)…
Such a nation has a right to its sovereignty (derived from the rights of its citizens) and a right to demand that its sovereignty be respected by all other nations.
Currently, we have massive illegal migration of people of unknown origin from all over the world across our southern border. There is no screening (or very little) and look what is happening. In reality, it is an invasion. Our right to a sovereign country is being trampled upon by sex traffickers, murderers, trespassers, cartels, thieves, rapists, gang members, and other thugs. This invasion is a colossal abuse of individual rights, and is what will take us closer to totalitarianism, not the screening of immigrants. The fact that the Ayn Rand Institute has the audacity to publish an article advocating for no ideological screening is despicable and a total outrage.
Charlotte Cushman is a Montessori educator who taught for over 40 years, and co-owned and operated two Montessori schools. She authored Montessori: Why It Matters for Your Child’s Success and Happiness, Effective Discipline the Montessori Way, and Your Life Belongs to You. She has been involved in the study of Ayn Rand’s philosophy since 1970. Her book website is Cushmanbooks.com and her opposition to social justice in Montessori website is authenticmontessorieducation.com.
Image: Ayn Rand Instittute