Thursday, June 15, 2006

Undermining the Law

Victor David Hanson makes an excellent point about the gradual undermining of US law by unchecked illegal immigration. If people can choose the laws they wish to respect, and law makers and police the laws they wish to enforce, then the concept of "rule of law" is itself diminished.

The alien from Mexico chooses which American laws he finds convenient. He wants our border police to leave him alone -- until he becomes lost in the desert or is attacked by robbers.

The employer expects trespassing laws to be enforced to keep vagrants off his premises, but then assumes that the same vigilant police will ignore the illegal status of his cheap labor force.

And does the city council that orders its policemen not to turn over arrested illegal aliens to the border patrol similarly allow townspeople to ignore their municipal tax bills?

When thousands operate cars without state-mandated licenses and car insurance, why should other drivers bother to purchase them? If police pull over motorists and do not verify the legal status of aliens, why do they check for outstanding arrest warrants of citizens?

Ignoring the law is not only hypocritical and anarchical; it also creates cynicism. Recently, I listened to friends relate that the government had indicted some Indian immigrants on charges of arranging bogus marriages to gain citizenship. My friends half-jokingly wondered why the culprits hadn't simply flown to Mexico and tried to sneak across the border!

Much self-serving lip service is paid to "the rule of law," but it is in fact one of the great intellectual acheivements of mankind. And, as Hanson points out, it is one of the major cultural differences between the Anglo-Saxon descended US and Spanish/Indian-descended Central and South America:

Nevertheless, what distinguishes the U.S. from nations in the Middle East, Africa and, yes, Mexico is the sanctity of our legal system. The terrain of Mexico may be indistinguishable from the landscape across the border in the U.S. But when it comes to the law, there is a grand canyon between us.

Only on one side of the border is title to private property sacrosanct, are police held accountable and is banking conducted transparently. Public hiring in America is based on civil service law, and judges are autonomous. And the American public has a legal right to investigate and even sue its government. That maze of legality helps to explain everything from why the water is safer to drink in San Diego than in Tijuana to why a worker makes $12 an hour in Fresno but less than $1 in Oaxaca.

Yet once we as a nation choose to ignore our keystone laws of sovereignty and citizenship, the entire edifice of a once unimpeachable legal system will collapse. Ironically, we would then become no different from those nations whose citizens are now fleeing to our own shores to escape the wages of lawlessness.

Unfortunately, this is exactly the legacy that millions of illegal immigrants from Mexico are bringing to the US, a disrespect for the law and the authority that flows from it. The failure of American lawmakers to enforce American laws - mostly for corrupt political reasons - undermines both their authority and the stability and legitimacy of the nation as a whole.


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