Illegal Immigration Is Not a Civil Right

Liberalism’s delusions have reached their most ridiculous extreme in the protests by illegal aliens. It was ridiculous enough that American liberals thought they were entitled to things that other Americans had worked for and earned, but now America is being told that illegal aliens — people who have no right to be here at all — should have the rights of citizens.

Illegal aliens and their supporters claim this is a civil rights issue. Balderdash. It is a desperate — and despicable — attempt to put a moral veneer on morally bankrupt protests. If illegal aliens have a moral claim to civil rights, then a band of burglars marching down the street protesting tough burglary laws also deserve moral respect.

Lest I am accused of being a racist or a xenophobe (epithets that are routinely hurled at conservative critics of immigration), I should perhaps provide a few personal details. Ideally, the legitimacy of your argument should not depend on who you are; rather, it should depend on the logic of your argument. But regrettably, in this age of political correctness, you are presumed to have no credibility on minority issues unless you are of a minority.

A Third World immigrant who went to a great deal of trouble to come here legally, I arrived here as a lone young man, brown-skinned, with very little money and a thick foreign accent–but a legal arrival nevertheless. I got my green card not by protesting down the street, but by waiting in line for years and obeying the rules. I never received any food stamps or welfare checks. Not a dime. A naturalized American, I am extremely proud of my U.S. citizenship since I know I obtained it the right way.

I graduated from a historically black college. My first career was as a high-school teacher (math and physics), and two of my ten years in teaching were spent in a very poor, predominantly black district in the South. There I saw intractable black poverty. I saw where the civil rights struggles had made a difference — and also where they had made no difference whatsoever. I saw where personal responsibility improved lives, and where entitlement destroyed lives.

In any case, it is a shameless travesty of the civil rights movement of the 60s when illegal aliens claim that theirs is the latest struggle in civil rights. This is very much like burglars claiming that having to disarm high-tech alarms and breaking through double-paned windows is the latest struggle in their line of work.

There is absolutely no moral equivalence whatsoever between the civil rights movement and the illegal alien protests of today. In the first place, that movement was the natural culmination of deeply moral arguments made over three centuries against patently immoral practices — first slavery, and then the forced segregation of a whole race of people.

But there is nothing in our laws that bars Hispanics from coming here legally. So it is not as if our immigration laws exclude a whole race of people. In fact, the number of Hispanics admitted legally is far greater than that of any other race. For instance, in the five years from 2000 to 2004 inclusive, legal immigrants from Mexico totaled almost 900,000 (890,953, to be exact), while immigrants from India, the second highest, totaled 303,929. The trouble is that for every Mexican who comes here legally, five of his compatriots come here by simply jumping over the border.

(By the way, immigration from historically high European sources — e.g., Germany, Ireland, and Italy — is very low now. For instance, during the same five years, immigrants admitted from these three countries combined totaled only 57,710. So much for the liberal notion that immigration laws favor whites over nonwhites.)

The civil rights movement was launched by people who had every right to live here. After all, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, and other civil rights pioneers were not foreigners. They were Americans. They considered America their homeland. They spoke English, and spoke to the whole country. They did not march down the street waving African flags. They did not ask for special treatment from the law — they only asked for equal treatment under the law.

But illegal aliens have no right to live here. They entered our country by jumping a fence in the dark of night. They are marching down our streets waving Mexican flags. (Though many of them have begun carrying the Stars & Stripes in the more recent marches, they have done this only after their own organizers told them about the bad publicity generated by the Mexican flags.) As their protest speeches indicate, they take ethnic pride in speaking Spanish; thus they speak only to one another, alienating the vast majority of Americans. No matter what they say, they are not seeking equal treatment under the law — for if that is what they sought, they would have waited for their turn in the immigration lines, as countless legal immigrants have. They are asking for special treatment from the law — that is why they want us to just forget about their illegal arrival and change our laws to suit them.

It is a point worth repeating — what illegal aliens demand is special rights. Perhaps the liberals who support these fraudulent protesters should read some history. Rosa Parks did not ask the bus operator to take a special route just for her; having waited in line, she only asked that she be treated the same as other passengers.

The civil rights pioneers were descendants of people who were brought here against their will. But illegal aliens are people who came here willingly — and willingly violated our laws. Theirs is not an involuntary condition, as involuntary servitude was for blacks. Illegal aliens chose to put themselves in the illegal condition. They cannot claim to be victims when their condition is self-induced.

By insisting that every American citizen be treated the same, the Civil Rights Movement brought change that uplifted both the letter and the spirit of the law. But what illegal aliens seek is change that will corrupt and destroy the law. In fact, if they get their Third World way, America will eventually have no laws. There will only be corruption and lawlessness just like in Mexico.

Given the fraudulent attempts by illegal aliens to arrogate civil rights, it is puzzling indeed to see the conspicuous silence of major black organizations. These organizations, the putative trustees of the civil rights movement, are being spectators while the house they built is being ransacked by squatters. Their inaction is particularly egregious considering that the people who will lose the most from uncontrolled immigration will be poor, unskilled blacks. After all, a basic knowledge of economics will tell you that the presence of a vast pool of cheap alien labor will only exacerbate the poverty of blacks by depressing their wages.

In fact, the late Barbara Jordan, undoubtedly one of the best-known black politicians of all time, who also chaired the U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform in the 1990s, was among those who warned about the adverse impact of cheap alien labor on blacks. She was hardly a conservative, yet she advocated restrictions on immigration.

Here is a telling example from recent days. The Washington Times reported that an Alabama employment agency sent 70 workers, predominantly black, to work for contractors involved in the rebuilding after Hurricane Katrina. The men were to be paid $10 per hour. But they were sent home after just two weeks — the contractors had found Mexicans who would work for smaller pay.

Such instances would be a routine occurrence if illegal aliens are legalized. Once legalized, the ten million here could bring their relatives, and the final influx could easily reach thirty million or more. Poor, unskilled blacks would be pushed out of work in their own country by people who have no roots here. It would be a cruel irony if such a plight were brought about by the inaction of the very organizations whose self-proclaimed charge it is to protect the civil rights of blacks.