There is an Existential Threat to the Very Idea of American Citizenship and Democrats are Leading the Charge

Immigrants from Central America reach the border in Tijuana, Mexico, to seek asylum in the United States on April 29, 2018. (Kyodo via AP)

Jim Geraghty in NRO:

Sometimes our political debates are furious and deeply divided because of demagogues, clickbait media, and hype. But sometimes our political debates are furious because they reflect a conflict of fundamentally opposed worldviews, where no compromise is feasible.

Many of the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates want to fundamentally redefine who is American — that is, if you show up from another country and want to be here, you ought to enjoy the full rights of citizenship and all of the benefits provided to American citizens.

Bernie Sanders put it clearly: “We’re going to make public colleges and universities tuition-free and open that to the undocumented.” In other words, if are a citizen of another country and you want a free college education, all you have to do is show up in the United States and get accepted at any one of the 1,626 public colleges in the United States.


Listen carefully to Elizabeth Warren’s statement today backing a proposed law by Democratic candidate Julian Castro that would destroy any semblance of a border.


“I agree with Secretary Castro,” Warren said in a statement to HuffPost. “We should not be criminalizing mamas and babies trying to flee violence at home or trying to build a better future. We must pass comprehensive immigration reform that is in line with our values, creates a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants including our DREAMers, and protects our borders.”

Protect what border? If, as Geraghty suggests, “you show up from another country and want to be here, you ought to enjoy the full rights of citizenship and all of the benefits provided to American citizens,” and if you decriminalize crossing the border, what border is there to protect?

Don’t we have legal procedures that potential immigrants can follow in order to enter the country legally? Of course we do. And the millions of people who have been faithfully following the law in order to enter the country legally, waiting in many cases years to get in, are nothing but naive chumps?

I am 100% for orderly, legal immigration. We are a richer country because people from all over the world want to come in order to make a better life for themselves and their children. Immigrants also are among the best citizens, realizing they have a duty to their adopted country. So they work hard, pay their taxes, and participate in the political life of the country. That has been the history of immigration in the United States, regardless of race, religion, country of origin, or economic circumstances. And it’s worked pretty damn well for almost 250 years.


These are the benefits if American citizenship. Not the promise of riches, but the opportunity to better your life. Not a promise of a place in line to become a government dependent.

Those illegal aliens who hide in the shadows, steal the identities of citizens, and refuse to play by the rules should not be rewarded for breaking the law. Nor should we cheapen the idea of citizenship by erasing the differences between those who come here in a orderly, legal manner and those who sneak in while our overworked, overwhelmed immigration enforcement officers aren’t looking.

This is not “fundamentally transforming” America as another president promised. This is spitting in the face of generations of immigrants who have followed the rules and entered the United States legally, building a free, open, democratic — and yes, imperfect — society.

How will these plans to allow anyone with a sob story about being in danger, or someone dumb enough to be caught by the border patrol, to become legal residents eligible for benefits? Treating illegals and fake asylum seekers (who are here for economic reasons, not because they are being persecuted) as we would treat any citizen, cheapens the idea of citizenship and destroys the uniqueness — the exceptional nature, if you will — of being an American.





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