Respecting U.S. Sovereignty and Embracing Legal Immigration Aren’t Mutually Exclusive

Conservatives have always recognized the importance of immigration as an integral part of the fabric of our nation, but so too is the principle of sovereignty and the respect for the rule of law.

A Heritage Action Sentinel Steve Fey made the following remark in Letter to the Editor in the Wall Street Journal (sub. req’d):

Traditional Americans embrace the idea that immigration is a benefit to our nation but reject the idea that every entrance should have a welcome mat and a paycheck at the point of crossing. Furthermore, Americans want to attract immigrants who believe in our founding principles of freedom, capitalism and the rule of law. When we fail to enforce the rule of law, as we do now, we make a mockery of our principles.

In a recent article on immigration, Heritage founder Ed Feulner struck a similar note:

We need a system that welcomes immigrants, protects our sovereignty, encourages assimilation and expands opportunities for everyone. A friend of mine recently summed it up well: What we need is a big wall with a big door. A “comprehensive” approach won’t get us there.

Sadly, people some in the media and in Congress act as though being pro-immigration and defending the integrity of the rule of law are mutually exclusive positions.

If Congress grants amnesty to the illegal immigrants currently in our country, our sovereignty and the rule of law will be undermined – by its very nature, amnesty cannot go hand-in-hand with respecting the rule of law.  Legal immigration, on the other hand, can and does.

Ed Feulner also noted:

Politicians from both sides of the aisle insist that the latest immigration reform isn’t amnesty. Oh, no. It would merely give legal residency to the 11 million people who are here illegally. Excuse me, but how is that not amnesty?  Whatever they insist on calling it, it’s the wrong policy. And it has a very predictable effect.

“Since the ‘86 amnesty, the number of illegal immigrants has quadrupled,” Mr. Meese recently wrote in The Wall Street Journal. “That should teach Congress a very important lesson: Amnesty ‘bends’ the rule of law. And bending the rule of law to reach a ‘comprehensive’ deal winds up provoking wholesale breaking of the law. Ultimately, it encourages millions more to risk entering the country illegally in the hope that one day they, too, might receive amnesty.”

In other words, amnesty begets more illegal immigration, which then begets another amnesty, and the cycle is perpetuated.  Such a cycle has no place in a well-ordered society based on the rule of law.  Moreover, it’s unfair to the 4.4 million people waiting to immigrate here legally, and to the many people who have already come here through the legal process.

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