Eighteen people recently died when the unventilated trailer in which they had been smuggled into the United States was abandoned, leaving them to
roast to death in the Texas sun. Asa Hutchinson, a U.S. official, commented that "This grim discovery is a horrific reminder of the callous disregard smugglers have for their human cargo."
Unfortunately, those who smuggle aliens into the U.S. are not the only people with callous disregard for human welfare. Congress and the American public also deserve a generous portion of the credit for bringing about this kind of disaster.
A fundamental question is posed by the legislation which attempts to limit the number of people moving to the United States: By what right do people living in a given territory tell people who were born elsewhere that they cannot move in?
Back in the 1930s California tried to stop refugees from the dust bowel disaster in the middle of the country (so-called "Okies") from moving in.
The U.S. Supreme Court promptly and properly stomped on this attempt to prevent American citizens from entering the state.
No world court will rule that citizens of the world have a similar right to move where they wish. But this does not mean that U.S. legislation creating a class of "illegal aliens" is morally justifiable.
This legislation does not even rise to the dignity of being a law. A genuine law does not classify people. Instead, it classifies actions and circumstances. Individual people then place themselves into
legally-relevant categories by their actions. Nearly all Americans
recognize that it is not only unconstitutional, but positively immoral,
to enact rules that apply only to black people, or only to women, etc.
Legislation which prohibits people from entering or living in the U.S. merely because they were born elsewhere is just as much pseudolaw as the discredited rules that black people must ride in the back of the bus or that women cannot work as bartenders.
Since September 11, 2001, the usual (and fallacious) arguments against free immigration---that it causes unemployment, burdens taxpayers, and undermines American culture---have been augmented by fears that terrorists will come into the U.S. illegally.
But the scoundrels who took out the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and four planeloads of travelers came into the U.S. legally.
And having a good mix of people born in all parts of the world, of all religious faiths and cultures, living in the United States can be an excellent defense against terrorist attacks. In a diverse, multicultural U.S., such attacks are bound to kill many people with whom the terrorists feel an affinity.
A diverse population, of course, does not guarantee terrorists will not attack. People of Islamic faith and middle eastern origin were among the innocents killed on September 11. But as the number of immigrants goes up,
deterrence should increase. And a well designed campaign to inform
world about our diversity could improve deterrence still further.
I would much rather live in a country people are trying to get into illegally than in one they are trying to get out of illegally. But it would be even better to live in a country in which the whole concept of an "illegal alien", having been recognized as a moral and legal abomination,
has been abandoned.
Paul F. deLespinasse is professor emeritus of political science at Adrian
College in Michigan. His virtual book describing a world entirely
pseudolaws, 'The Metaconstitutional Manifesto: A Bourgeois Vision of the Classless Society', can be read, linked, or reprinted without charge and can
be accessed via www.adrian.edu/pdeles.html. He can be reached at