The Devaluation of America and the Law

The immigration debate, fraught with fake news about separation of families, has revealed two ills in American society. One is the devaluation of America as a great nation. The other is the devaluation of law as a good in the civil society.

Frederic Bastiat, in his brilliant work “The Law,” wrote, “Life, liberty, and property do not exist because men have made laws. On the contrary, it was the fact that life, liberty, and property existed beforehand that caused men to make laws in the first place.”

America is great because we value life, liberty, and property. These rights of American citizens have been protected by the law, to one degree of another, since the founding of our nation. These values are what make America’s greatness far exceed that of other nations. The American experiment of equality before the law and protection of rights has created a nation of prosperity and peace—quite a feat considering the diversity of our society.

These uncommon characteristics shine like a beacon to the rest of the world, and those who see it on the dark horizon of their own failed countries long to come here. We who live in America understand this desire; we are especially sympathetic to those who live in worn-torn nations, riddled with poverty and gang violence.

Some think this empathy for the less fortunate should compel us to open our borders, flooding our great land with the unskilled, unvetted downtrodden from across the globe—a folly that would result in the destruction of our nation. If you don’t think so, consider the fall of Rome due, in part, to its influx of outlanders who failed to honor the values of Roman citizenship.

Those who want the same for America think they are acting out of empathy, but their motivations are rooted in something far less noble. They have forgotten the great values of America that inform our laws. At best, they don’t think the United States is all that great; at worst, they think it is a despicable land that must make restitution to the rest of the world for its success. They think America isn’t worth closing its borders; Americans aren’t good enough to judge others as unworthy to come here; and America isn’t noble enough to construct laws to protect the very values that attract immigrants to its shores.

When you don’t think something is worth protecting, you neglect the perimeter. You let its walls crumble. If you devalue your home, think it’s of less worth than other homes, your family members less loved than those clamoring on your porch, then you will not lock your doors. You’ll throw open the gates and let anyone who wants to come in.

On the other hand, when you value your home and recognize its worth compared to others, when you love and treasure your family, you guard them with a profound jealousy. You lock the doors and watch the gates, arming yourself against those who seek to invade it, corrupt it, abuse it, or change it into something less than what you’ve made it.

You also construct rules and regulations designed to protect it, setting up a hedge around the values that make your home a source of comfort, pride, and peace. In other words, you care enough to force others to comply with the laws that uphold life, liberty, and property.

Those who want open borders simply don’t value America or see it for the good it is and the greatness that sets it apart from every other country on earth.

As a natural consequence, they devalue her laws. They don’t think she’s worth guarding, so they seek to tear down the fences and throw away the locks and keys. They seek to manipulate the law to advance their own ideology, instead of enforcing our laws, which embody the principles and values that undergird our nation.

If we simply ignore our laws without discussing in rational terms through our legislative process whether they should be changed to protect our life, liberty, and property, the changing of the laws doesn’t matter. The fight is already over, and we’ve lost because we’ve already changed our values from those that once made us great.

Our immigration law and the case law that supports it are designed to protect our nation because it is of great worth. When people come to our border and violate our national sovereignty, thumbing their noses at our laws, they have committed a crime. This should go without saying, but somehow people miss this obvious point. These criminals are no different from those who have robbed a grocery store because they are hungry, or robbed a bank because they are poor. Despite the circumstances, the law is the law, and for good reason. No matter the motivations, a good law has been broken, threatening a good country.

Parents who bring their children to this nation to commit a crime are devaluing our laws, and those who want to excuse them have also devalued our laws. Parents who bring their children to our borders illegally are just like parents who take their children in tow as they rob a grocery store. The consequences are the same. The police show up at the store, they arrest the parents, and the department of social services takes the kids away — as it should. The parents have committed a crime, and they have neglected/abused the child by making them party to a crime. We don’t tolerate this within our borders, and we shouldn’t tolerate it at our borders.

When a parent is taken into custody for violating the protective laws of a great nation like ours, their children are taken from them, just as they would be in other criminal scenarios. Why would anyone want a child to remain with a neglectful parent, one who has brought an innocent along with them to commit a crime? If they are indeed seeking asylum, that must be determined, and the child kept in safety from the neglectful parent until the authorities deem they are not lawbreakers — as is the practice in all neglectful/abusive family situations.

If the parents are fleeing some sort of persecution because of their race, religion, or social group, then they can make the case — while in custody — that they need amnesty. By law, persecution is the only reason a person can receive amnesty. If they are only fleeing economic hardship, gang wars in which they are not persecuted but only subjected, have access to safe spaces from persecution within their own nation, or merely “want a better life,” they are not allowed entry except through proper immigration channels.

We have these laws because we value the lives, liberties, and properties of people, not because we are cruel or inhumane. Immigration law is not somehow less than any other law designed to honor these values. In fact, in some ways it is even more necessary for the stability of our nation. Those who seek to cast off our immigration laws are the ones lacking compassion and humanity, not the other way around.

As you can see, if you think the separation of children from parents who have broken the law is a bad thing, then you don’t value the law. If you don’t value the law, then you don’t value the United States. If you don’t value the United States, then you don’t value the life, liberty, and property of your fellow Americans. If this is the case, your outrage and your emotional outbursts should be condemned for the folly and threat they are.

The emotional pleas and manipulative visual propaganda over the separation of families at the border are indeed threats, and they need to be seen this way. They are a threat to our way of life from people who no longer value America and the rights and liberties she embodies. They are a threat because their actions, based on their devaluation of our nation and our laws, will lead to the loss of these values across the land. They will lead to the loss of our home.

This is not hyperbolic. This is rational. We can either heed it or ignore it in the name of faux compassion. If we choose the latter, the result will be a nation with neither law nor compassion. Is that the kind of country you want to live in?