Reflections on a House Divided

Irreconcilable Differences virtue of the fact that illegals are not legitimate members of our national community, it is also true that - though they do have rights as human beings - they do not possess the full scope of rights ascribed to Americans anymore than some strangers doing work on your home have the same legal or ethical claims on you that your spouse, children, or other family members do.

As has been noted in both the main-stream and "alternative" media, recent polls seem to show an American public that is torn in many different and seemingly conflicting directions on the issue of illegal immigration (1). I found the Fox News-Poll so far most enlightening on this point despite the fact that it was taken prior to the latest, and largest, of the recent rallies if favour of legalization (2). That is because said poll is very comprehensive, coming at the several key questions from different angles. Amongst such sets of questions and replies the following results were some of the most interesting:

1. Whether or not those surveyed thought the current illegals were hurting or benefiting the nation depended on how the question was posed. If stated as "In general, do you think immigrants who come to the United States today help the country and make it a better place to live or hurt the country and make it a worse place to live?" a significant plurality - 42% vs. 30% would respond that it was "Helping." On the other hand, if framed in more specific terms as ""Overall, do you think illegal immigrants provide more benefits to the nation by doing work many U.S. citizens don't want to do, or do they cost the country more because they don't pay taxes and use public services like schools and emergency rooms?" The results resoundingly expressed the perception of cost over benefit by 65% to 22%. It should be noted that this question was asked after 87% of those polled said that they were concerned that illegals ""Overburden government programs and services." Also note the distinction there made between "immigrants" and illegal immigrants," a distinction becoming more frequently blurred.

2. When asked about their concerns regarding Illegals as affecting the job security of Americans, 66% replied in the affirmative to the question of whether they believed that illegals would  "Take jobs away from U.S. citizens," though when given the question of whether members of the same group "...are mainly doing low-paying jobs that U.S. citizens don't want....[or]...that illegal immigrants are taking jobs away from U.S. citizens," fully 47% of the respondents said that illegals are mostly employed in low-paying jobs that Americans did not want as opposed to only 34% who claimed that Americans were losing their jobs in consequence.

3. When presented with some of the existing proposals for dealing with Illegals 57% endorsed that which called for ""Trying to send as many illegal immigrants back to their home countries as possible." While, when confronted - as part of a separate question - with the prospect of "Allowing illegal immigrants who have jobs in the United States to apply for legal, temporary-worker status," 69% favoured that course of action. It should also be noted in regards to the later opinion that 81% of those surveyed also replied to the question of whether " think it is fair or unfair to grant rights to illegal immigrants while thousands of people wait each year to come to the United States legally?" with the answer that, indeed it was unfair to do so. Which conclusion implied either a contradiction on their part  or the fact that they did not believe that the unfairness that said program inflict on legal immigrants outweighs whatever factors they thought supports the idea of allowing illegals to apply for temporary worker status.

These and similar results simply underline the difficult nature of this problem. Yes, most of the illegals do - aside from being in the country illegally, and committing whatever other acts of fraud are found necessary to maintain themselves in that condition - personify much of the virtues associated with our American culture: hard work, family values, piety, reliability etc. But, their very presence has put into question our right to exercise control over who comes and stays here. And, even that might be overlooked if not for the additional factors affecting these circumstances: a. we are at war, b. our enemies - and our existing and potential allies - are all looking hard for signs of weakness in our ability to take whatever hard measures may be required to defend ourselves - including securing our boarders and enforcing our residency requirements, c. our enemies will find encouragement in, and take advantage of any of our perceived weaknesses in those regards, d. there is a strong and well-organized anti-American element embedded in many segments of the various illegal communities, some with connections to entities and movements whom are unified both in their enmity to our nations existence, and - increasingly, as with Venezuela and Iran - in tangible military economic and political measures being developed against us  - and e. under these conditions we just cannot afford to take the kinds of risks we might be drawn towards by charity under other circumstances.

Some further points are also important in understanding just what is at stake in this controversy. First, the idea that all those who legally or not happen to inhabit a country have the same level of rights and privileges, cuts the ground out from under the very concept of "nationhood." Fore, what besides control over "membership" and determination of which rights and privileges go along with that status imbues the idea of nationhood with its meaning? And so we should not discard those powers unless we fully understand what we are also giving up along with them - i.e. the very idea of being a country and a people. Which is , of course, exactly what our enemies want us to do. Second, the very idea that there is something intrinsically wrong with distinctions of that kind, based on membership - e.g. that it is racist to do so, etc, flies in the face of the common practices of all peoples - including those who condemn it in this case. Just try and join one of their organizations as an uncloseted conservative, or attach oneself to one of their families, and see how long it takes them to resort to all and any measures including harassment, legal sanctions and physical violence to make those boundaries  clear and inviolate. For that matter, try and gain residency or citizenship in one of the main countries-of-origin for the illegals themselves. Therefore, the egalitarian pieties being used in defence of illegals are simple hypocrisy, disguising motives ranging from the simple desire of the Democrats to create a population beholden to them, to those which sustain radicals in their dream of using the political power latent amongst the illegals to create profound changes in the American culture they despise. But hidden within the aforesaid mix - from most of their fellows as well as outsiders, are those reflective of the very real desire of our enemies to use the existing reservoir of angry anti-American entitlement, all too prevalent in many segments of the illegal population, as a weapon against us. And, though similar sentiments also exist amongst segments of our citizens and legal residents as well - that does not - and should not - confer to illegals the same rights which members of the former group can claim in regards to freedom of political expression and against deportation. Fore, by virtue of the fact that illegals are not legitimate members of our national community, as they have not fulfilled the criteria for membership, it is also true that - though they do have rights as human beings - they do not possess the full scope of rights ascribed to Americans anymore than some strangers doing work on your home have the same legal or ethical claims on you that your spouse, children, or other family members have.

Finally, do not be fooled by the sudden appearance of American flags and accompanying platitudes. All too many of those protesting really do think we are trespassers in what should be their land. Most don't. But, too many do for our safety in wartime. Once it is fully established and accepted that we are a national community with a right to set our own standards for membership and affiliation, and do so in a way commensurate with our needs - for our security and quality of life - we can then afford to be charitable, and should be - but not before then.


1. Public divided over how to treat illegals
    What Does the Public Want on Immigration?
2. FoxNewsPoll (Courtesy of

(C) David Aronin 2006