One year ago, House Republicans were girding their loins to introduce legislation that would amnesty millions of illegal aliens. The “path to citizenship” was reportedly off the table, as GOP leaders, in an effort to please everyone (meaning no one), prepared to veer off onto the “path to legalization,” kicking the can of citizenship down the road.
“Don’t Do It,” screamed the National Review editorial headline of January 27: This was, after all, an election year, Obama Care was a winning campaign issue, and amnesty legislation would spark a “brutal intramural fight” in which the nativists would land enough punches to KO any hope of the GOP winning the Senate. Instead, NR advised, House Republicans should “do nothing,” triumph at the polls, then pursue “incremental immigration reform.” Practically speaking, this would mean “trading amnesty” for increased border security and the magic of universal E-Verify.
November came and went, and when the Republicans won, Barack Obama responded with an executive order granting the amnesty GOP leaders dreamt of but did nothing about. Conservatives were outraged: “The President has violated the Constitution!”
For most Republicans, as for all Democrats, amnesty has not been a question of “if,” but of “when.” It simply has to be on their terms. They cannot countenance the thought that people who have been allowed to live here should be sent home. America, being an idea and having an embarrassment of riches, belongs to every “citizen of the world,” and perhaps to citizens of Mars and the Hale-Bopp Comet as well. The idea that violating our laws to get here is somehow worthy of an unpleasant consequence such as deportation is dismissed as unreasonable, if not inhumane. In fact, the immigrants’ actions were utterly reasonable, given that they were worse off wherever they came from. They are no different from us, except that they are better than us, and because they are different from us they make us better, except that if you recognize that they are different in any way (except “better”) then you are a racist. One way that they are different from us is that they can engage in complex actions of subterfuge without knowing they are doing wrong, except that when they knew they were doing wrong they weren’t really doing wrong, because our wrong trumped their wrong, because we have something (our “idea” and our embarrassment of riches) that we weren’t willing to “share,” by which we mean “have stolen from us.” But stealing from us is impossible, because we are they, and they are we.
So really, there is no we.
Conservatives have embraced the “America Is an Idea” ideology, and now Americans are paying for it. Our children, according to polls, increasingly believe that every valley should be exalted, and every mountain and hill made low, so that more from the Third World may come. That makes America the Promised Land, the Kingdom of God on earth, and in the new gospel, Barack Obama says, “Come unto me, all ye who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
When the tongues of fire descended on the Feast of Pentecost, Our Lord’s first disciples began to speak in languages they hadn’t studied, so that the Good News might spread to every nation populated by the visitors to Jerusalem. There would be no national barrier to the Kingdom of God, Who is not a “respecter of persons.”
This is a mandate for the Church, and this should describe our churches. But this does not constitute some sort of biblical directive for countries or governments.
In other words, the United States is not a church.
Governments exist to protect their citizens, and a just government should act justly. If the home-countries of all of the now amnestied future citizens (is it too early to say “Democratic voters”?) are the hellholes they are made out to be, and many of them are, then our government should treat them as such, and that should be reflected in our foreign policy, which might even seek punitive damages. Similar damages should be sought from the industries that have abetted the foreign invasion while aiding their bottom line—and that includes both political parties.
Governments do not exist to pedal a false religion to the world, to invite the drowning onto the ark, to blend all languages into one. This is not a question of compassion, but of function. A government cannot show compassion by refusing to govern. It certainly cannot do so by harming its own citizens.
We used to have a religion in this country, more or less, but from before the beginning, false notions of America-as-God’s-Kingdom led to political subterfuge. Today, the two denominations, Democratic and Republican, battle not over theology but for members. They already agree on the central dogma that government exists to serve them and not to protect the people. But they are Elmer Gantrys and not prophets, and we must not to be taken in by their New Thought evangelism.
A first step might be to remember that we are a “we,” and that borders are not evil. Even Heaven has them.
Aaron D. Wolf (1973-2019) was Chronicles' executive editor. His writings have appeared in numerous magazines and newspapers. He was a frequent guest on Issues, Etc. (Lutheran Public Radio) and The Paul Youngblood Show (nta.fm), and has appeared on several other radio programs, including The Tom Clark Show (Wisconsin Public Radio) and Extension 720 With Milt Rosenberg (WGN).