Monday, June 28, 2010

Are illegal immigrants acting immorally?

People like Governor Brewer often say that we are a nation of laws, and that is why we must make a strong stand enforcing our immigration laws. Are people who insist on a strong stand against illegal immigration gratuitously assuming that persons who enter the country illegally are acting immorally?  If the only way to support your family was to enter another country illegally, wouldn't you have a moral obligation to break the law, since you have a moral obligation to support your family which trumps your obligation to obey the law?

I'm not drawing any strong conclusions from this, necessarily. Recognition of this is compatible with strong enforcement strategies such as SB 1070. But I don't even hear this point mentioned or acknowledged by defenders of strong enforcement. 


steve said...

Of course, the argument is reversible. I have a moral obligation to protect my family against your family, if it comes to that.

Victor Reppert said...

Governor Brewer, of course, has put her foot in her mouth by saying that most illegal immigrants are running drugs, a claim not supported by the evidence.

If you have a legal situation where you have a lot of people breaking the law for morally acceptable reasons, then we may have a reason to re-examine the whole matter of legal immigration. If it were reasonably possible for someone who wanted to pay taxes and work to enter the country legally, then we could have better reason to believe that those who are entering illegally are real criminals.

Make sure our immigration policy is rational, an enforce it like hell.

steve said...

I notice that when you attack the Bush administration, you play the law and order card–but when you defend illegal immigrants, you play the civil disobedience card. Hmm.

If bleeding-heart liberals are really so concerned about the plight of Mexican immigrants, why don't they move their base of operations to Mexico and fix the source of the problem?

Victor Reppert said...

I never argued that we are always obligated to obey all laws. Only that legality generates a prima facie moral duty. I am claiming that here, in case you missed it.

It's not especially a liberal-conservative issue. There are a lot of people in the country we can't keep track of. We probably don't have the resources to get them to leave, and they have probably become such an integral part of our economic infrasturcture that if they left all of a sudden it would wreck the economy.

I do think opponents of SB 1070 probably made a tactical mistake. They thought complaints about racial profiling is the problem, but there is also the issue of the government spending involved. No monies were appropriated in the bill, and yet it's going to massively tax the ability of state and local government to detain all these illegal immigrants. The estimate is $10 million dollars, and the state is so broke Governor Brewer had to sponsor a sales tax hike (as a conservative, this was something she enjoyed doing about as much as getting a root canal) in order to not lay off teachers. So we're going to end up with a law that sounds tough on illegal immigration but is one that we really don't have the resources to enforce, especially if the are able to pick up a lot of illegal immigrants this way, which I doubt.

Does one really need to be a bleeding-heart liberal to be concerned about the plight of people who can't care for their families, whether they are Americans or not? I thought that was why some churches do missionary work in places like Mexico. As Christians, we're all either bleeding-heart liberals, or bleeding-heart conservatives. The difference is the extent we are willing to deputize the government to do the work of compassion.