Ignoring immigration law – exactly where are we headed? In recent weeks we have seen members of Congress go to the border and “yell” at US border guards, call for outlawing federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), make up stories about individuals drinking from toilets, and vote against money for both enforcement and detention. We have seen more sanctuary cities in the news, as illegal aliens boost homelessness and reduce housing availability for low-income Americans. So, where is fidelity to rule of law?
The answer to that question takes us back to basics. By basics, think about Civics 101, essential moral, political and legal foundations. On those, all else is built.
If we are going to extract ourselves from this mess, we must remember what a healthy society looks like and requires, based on rule of law. But do we remember?
The smallest child is taught obedience. From that lesson comes respect for elders, which is to say experience, and for family, which is to say one’s place in a small circle of light defined by love.
From learned obedience to elders and place in a family, come secondary lessons, like self-discipline, respect for fair play, one’s own work, work of others – and the order, patience, productivity and peace that flows from seeing the “why” behind established rules.
The child who starts with this basic understanding of why families love and respect, but also why parents teach and expect, becomes an accountable individual, more aware and responsive to others, himself and society.
In short, we teach children obedience to rules, respect for institutions, and accountability because we believe a strong individual emerges from a strong family and contributes to a strong society.
But what is a strong society – in the context of a free republic? A collection of people bound by big ideas, including individual liberty, equal opportunity for success, mutual respect – and respect for “rule of law.”
In America, “rule of law” starts with the Constitution, rules for self-governing and limitations on that same government, assuring we have fundamental rights like free speech, exercise of religion, association, press, freedom from unwarranted searches and seizures, a chance for fair trial, speedy justice, and other individual guarantees.
Now, the question: What lesson is taught to our children – and countrymen – by members of Congress who go to the southwestern border and pitch violation of the law, who invite non-Americans to break the rules, to violate long-standing immigration laws, make false or unjustified claims for asylum, take refuge in sanctuary cities, which themselves fail to enforce the law?
A level deeper: Who are we Americans if we no longer respect our own “rule of law,” no longer insist on accountability from federal, state and local representatives, no longer insist they honor and promote respect for that foundation of our society, rule of law?
Another level deeper: What sort of citizens are we when we shrug at members of Congress who make up “facts” at the border, manufacture outrage to advance violation of immigration laws?
What sort of citizens are we – and how faithful to our roots – when we shrug off members of Congress who refuse to fund border security? When we watch them upbraid good men and women policing the border? Is it right for a leftist congresswoman to verbally misuse border guards upholding the law?
Should we shrug at mayors who shelter law breakers in sanctuary cities and counties, now up to 168? Or those who tolerate masked mobs attacking peaceful protestors, as in Oregon? In short, what comes of a democratic society with declining respect for rule of law, increasing advocacy of immigration law breaking for political advantage?
Nothing good. Just as we teach children to obey the law, public representatives should be quick to uphold the law. There is no other way; laws forsaken, forgotten or unenforced are empty.
Last reflection: If members of Congress, Governors and mayors are left unaccountable, simply permitted to flout and disregard established immigration laws, or to promote no respect for rule of law, where are we headed?
American citizens each have a voice and vote. Many have an understanding of lessons learned early in their lives, and honor American history. In these consequential times, remembering such lessons is important.