Did it all start in earnest with Prohibition?
Don’t know if you saw the recent PBS film about the 18th Amendment to the US Constitution’s effect on the level of public drinking, but the period of the Roaring Twenties was starkly shown as a willful, widespread and wild breaking of the law.
Prohibition resulted in the rise of organized crime, symbolized by Chicago’s Al Capone, and in public debauchery never previously seen.
But it is not at all clear that a majority of our citizens still understand the importance of maintaining our Rule of Law, which makes our unique democratic form of government succeed.
On Tuesday, May 14th only six members of the House of Representatives (all Republicans, alas) gathered on the steps of the Capitol to make exactly that point. As NumbersUSA reported on May 15th,
“Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) was joined by five other House Members on Tuesday denouncing the Senate Gang of Eight's amnesty bill, S.744. Rep. King was joined on the steps of the Capitol by Reps. Mo Brooks of Alabama, John Fleming of Louisiana, Paul Gosar of Arizona, and Steve Stockman and Louie Gohmert of Texas. The six Congressmen said they were concerned about the huge negative impact an amnesty for 11 million illegal aliens would have on the national debt, and they said they stood by the rule of law.”
[Six House Reps. Denounce Gang of Eight Amnesty Bill, May 15, 2013]
Each of these men are champions of patriotic immigration reform and have introduced appropriate legislation, such as making E-verify mandatory and permanent for all US employers.
They spoke as the US Senate Judiciary Committee was marking up the Gang of Eight’s “Comprehensive Immigration Reform” bill, which is well understood to be nothing but a replay of the failed 1986 Amnesty.
Sans the Rule of Law, how can one conduct a civilized country? As Steve King noted,
“"The 844 page bill, over in the Senate, whether amended or not, in what ways we can anticipate it might be, is still a terrible idea if you look at it from an economic perspective. At no stage in their lives does the universe of those who would receive amnesty make a net financial contribution to this country. At no stage, not a single year, out of all those years. That's off of The Heritage Foundation's Report, Robert Rector's report, which many of you will be familiar with.”
King continues with my point:
"[Amnesty] destroys the Rule of Law. And the Rule of Law is an essential pillar of American exceptionalism. Many people come here because of equal justice under the law. If we reward people who break the law, they are unlikely to raise their children to respect it. The Rule of Law, at least with regard to immigration, would be destroyed."
Mo Brooks said that the U.S. couldn't open its doors to every person in the world.
In each of the past five years, 620,000 to 1.05 million foreigners have been given American citizenship. No country on earth comes close to being as generous as America is with its citizenship.
The immigration issue is not about whether America is compassionate and generous. We are. The immigration issue is about whether America has the financial resources to accept all the world's immigrants into America. There are hundreds of millions of foreigners who, if they could, would immigrate to America.
Further proof that American confidence in the Rule of Law is badly eroded comes from another NumbersUSA post:
A new Rasmussen Reports poll has found that only 30% of American voters believe the federal government will actually secure the border if Congress passes an immigration reform bill. This shows an ever-increasing pessimism from Americans that the government is serious about securing our nation's borders: in March, 38% said the federal government would secure the borders if legislation passes and in January, the figure was 45%. In the same poll, only 7% of voters consider it "very likely" that the border will be secured, while 24% consider it "not at all likely"….
Also, just 12% of voters believe that the Mexican government is intent on stopping its citizens from entering the U.S. illegally and 54% think the Mexican government should be asked to compensate the U.S. government for the costs of illegal immigration.”
When citizens by a wide margin have stopped believing in what their government tells them, the Rule of Law is truly under siege. Yet it is the basis of confidence in all commercial transactions, of the willingness of citizens to pay taxes, of trust in the elective process, of belief in the legitimacy of judicial decisions.
If our leaders ignore immigration law enforcement and push for an unneeded Amnesty, we will inevitably see a continuing breakdown of respect for our Rule of Law.
The consequences will be unimaginable.
Donald A. Collins [email him], is a freelance writer living in Washington DC and a former long time member of the board of FAIR, the Federation for American Immigration Reform. His views are his own.