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 Immigration Reform

From the Las Vegas Review Journal, April 12, 2010. 

"They came here with nothing," said Berkley, who represents the 1st Congressional District, which is 34 percent Hispanic. "They had no money. They had no skills. The only thing that they had is a dream, and that dream was that their children and their children's children would have a better life here in the United States of America."

This sentiment could have been lifted from the Horatio Alger stories, those tales of morality that celebrate American idealism, hard work, honesty, and playing by the rules. Americans cannot help but love liberty and revere its champions. Sometimes those from other nations fear liberty's vibrant and variable trappings as an unfamiliar danger, yet they are drawn to its flame. But Americans have no fear of freedom. We traditionally welcome immigrants to our shore.  Whether fleeing the persecution of tyranny or chasing the dream of opportunity, they come here, as did our ancestors.

It was the dream of our forefathers  that we enjoy the blessings of liberty. And it is fundamental to our nature, to share good fortune with honest neighbors.  But in entering our community, some reject the rule of law (It is the rule of law that binds citizen and government officials alike and thereby moderates government's tendency to over-regulate.) The resulting damage to our liberty must not go unrecognized or un-addressed.

Among immigrants there are two groups, those who follow the path to citizenship according to existing laws, and those who circumvent the system thus attempting to achieve their goals by other means. Within the second group many find the bargain unsatisfactory.  If we are all to share the freedom that the rule of law allows, laws must be respected and enforced.  The tension that is reported on the subject of immigration seems to bear this out. Americans are coming to distrust a government that selectively decides which , when, and against whom, laws are enforced.  Abraham Lincoln proscribed the solution when he adjured that Americans live by the vow "never to violate in the least particular, the laws of the country; and never to tolerate their violation by others." 

Compassion for the law breakers must not displace justice for the honest citizen or immigrant. The nations limited capacity to absorb immigrants must be acknowledged.   Members of the current administration have recognized this fact and are addressing the question of population control.  Some are conversely advocating unrestricted immigration coupled with amnesty.  Whatever their designs, the rule of law appears to have been forgotten. 

In generosity, we have offered to share the source of our blessings. To often, that offer has been rebuked, as it has been accompanied always with the requirement that the recipient obey our laws. 

Perhaps the answer is not to expand the immigration of individuals, but rather to export the principles, culture and values that make this country a desired destination.  We do the legal immigrant no favor by greeting his arrival with the corruption, tyranny and injustice he sought to leave behind. Nor do we enrich our citizens by surrendering our hard won freedoms to those who seek to undermine them.

Let us export a respect for laws, a love of freedom, and an intolerance for injustice.  That will truly enrich our neighbors, and bring us welcome friends who wish to live in peace and prosperity under the rule of law.

Time to win one for the working people

Alex Miller for US Senate

Content copyright 2009-2010. Alex Miller All rights reserved