One of the common defenses that opponents of illegal immigration use to defend against the charge of xenophobia is that “I’m only against illegal immigration; legal immigration is fine.” As a rule, that’s a good thought, and I mostly agree with it. But now, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker seems to be calling that into question. Earlier this month, Walker went on radio and TV to promote the idea of slowing legal immigration when needed to protect American workers from competition with immigrants willing to accept sub-standard wages.
The Establishment news media and liberal politicians predictably rage against Walker’s proposal. After all, isn’t accepting immigrants a fundamental American idea, as expressed in the inscription on the Statue of Liberty? Don’t we all want to offer America’s blessings to those who give up their old lives to start anew in our country; pursue the American dream?
Just what is the American Dream? I would say that it is the opportunity to live in a place where one’s God-given rights to life, liberty and property are respected, even protected. That liberty also makes it possible to get ahead financially and socially to forge a better life for one’s family. It allows us to worship as we see fit, to live as our faith dictates, and to do what is necessary to defend liberty. I want everyone on Earth to live that dream, starting of course with those of us who live in America, and spreading the opportunity through the world by our example.
The problem that Walker perceives is that the glut of immigration threatens the well-being of those who are already in America as either native-born or immigrants, through excessive competition for limited employment opportunities, driving wages down and unemployment up. It takes time for a new immigrant who may not start out with a good financial foundation to become productive and contribute to the economy that supports us all, including new immigrants. We need time to assimilate, or digest, any influx of immigrants, to let the supply and demand of jobs and workers re-equilibrate. I support Governor Walker in this.
Another aspect of the problem not mentioned by Walker is the time it takes new immigrants to really become Americans. Most of the world suffers under governments that have little or no respect for the rights of their citizens. Immigrants from those countries are accustomed to bowing the knee to tyrants. They tend to be attuned to the political ideas that are most like what they are accustomed to: those promoted by the left. They need time to absorb American ideas and attitudes that tend to perpetuate liberty. A too rapid influx of such immigrants produces an unbalanced political climate that will end with an erosion of liberty for native born citizens and immigrants alike.
To counter this problem, we need to admit immigrants at a measured pace that doesn’t disrupt either the economy or the political climate. We should also support organizations that help to spread ideas of liberty among Americans and prospective Americans.
The Declaration of Independence contains a long list of violations of the rights of the American colonists by King George III. But even that tyrant didn’t create laws allowing police to confiscate properties without convicting or even charging the owners with a crime: known in America today as civil asset forfeiture. Both the federal government and most states have these laws on the books, and they are used with abandon to seize the property of innocents for the benefit of law enforcement agencies.
The financial attack on Carole Hinders is just one example. She owns a Mexican restaurant that does business only in cash, so naturally she makes a lot of cash deposits to her bank account. Without charging her with a crime, the IRS confiscated the entire $33,000 in her account using civil forfeiture, because they claimed she was “structuring” her deposits to avoid the requirement that the bank report any deposits of $10,000 or more. She is forced to prove her innocence in order to try to get her property returned. It is easy to find many more instances of this abuse at both the federal and state/local levels.
There are signs that these atrocities are being noticed and dealt with in a limited way already. North Carolina and New Mexico have reduced or eliminated civil forfeiture in their states. Even Attorney General Holder has announced that the federal government will reduce its cooperation with the states in sharing the loot from confiscations. Best of all, Rand Paul has introduced the Fifth Amendment Integrity Restoration Act, which would require proof that property was used in commission of a crime before federal agents could confiscate it.
These are all moves in the right direction, but I think we need a comprehensive solution that applies to all levels of government. Civil forfeiture violates the Bill of Rights of the Constitution in several ways. The Fourth Amendment bans not only warrantless searches, but also seizures. The Fifth Amendment requires just compensation for property taken for government use, and prohibits deprivation of property without due process of law. The Seventh Amendment preserves the right to a trial by jury in civil cases; civil forfeiture denies even a trial, let alone a jury. The Eighth Amendment disallows excessive fines. Application of the Fourteenth Amendment means that state and local governments are limited in the same way by all of these Constitutional provisions.
Since the Supreme Court has apparently supported civil forfeiture in past cases, Congress needs to act to abolish this heinous practice nationwide. Thanks to Rand Paul for his efforts, but let’s see a comprehensive national ban on confiscation of the property of Americans who have not been convicted of crimes.
The Iowa state legislature recently hosted a prayer to “god, goddess, universe, that which is greater than ourselves” by a self-proclaimed witch, Deborah Maynard. About a third of the members declined to attend, and one state representative, Rob Taylor, protested by turning his back on the Unitarian Pagan during her prayer. The incident is predictably controversial, with liberals accusing Taylor and others who protested of religious intolerance.
I would like to call attention to a column I wrote on this topic twelve years ago, called Legislative Prayers Should be in Caucuses. The religious diversity of our population and our legislative bodies is even greater than it was in 2003, so there is even more reason now to avoid the false sense of religious unity fostered by such prayers. Any legislators who want to open their deliberations with prayer (and I would hope that includes all Christian legislators) should do so privately or in groups of those with common beliefs. No one should be pressured to pray or appear to pray to what he believes to be a false god.