Watch CBSN Live

Column: Illegal Immigration Isn't Immoral

This story was written by Adam Roberts, Arkansas Traveler

Whenever anyone talks about assisting illegal immigrants, they're met with angry opposition.Opponents of being nice to illegal immigrants seem to think that they are being helpful when they point out the fact that people are "here illegally" and "breaking the law."

Guess what?We already knew that.

Just because you break a law doesn't mean that you're automatically a horrible person who deserves no charity or consideration.I wonder - how many of the people who cry out that any leniency or assistance given to illegal immigrants is amnesty turn around and advocate the greatest possible mercy when they become illegal parkers?

People complain that illegal immigrants "cut in line" in front of those who go through the process legally.This is bunk.For immigrants from Latin America, there is no "line."The citizenship process is more like a giant bureaucratic blender operated by the pencil pushers at the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (now in its third incarnation in just five years).

First, you try to apply for a green card.Six different desk clerks tell you to bring your papers to six different offices in six different cities - all tell you you're at the wrong place.You then wait somewhere between five and eleven years, depending on how many people lost your paperwork and who wants copies of mysterious, probably nonexistent forms with names like "XJ2781."The people at the USCIS phone number give you different instructions every time you call.Assuming you can afford an immigration attorney, you learn that no one really has any idea how the process is even supposed to work.

If you are lucky enough to get a green card, the road to citizenship will still take several more years and countless trips to alphabet soup agencies that no one has ever heard of.One day, you receive a notice in the mail informing you that you are now in the country illegally.This comes a week after receiving a notice informing you that you are not allowed to visit your home country.

A kid who has lived in the United States for her entire life (save perhaps the first week) has a family here, friends, a favorite football team and an acceptance letter to a major university, but she gets strangled in red tape and is exiled from a country that is hers in all but name - and you think she is the villain in the story?

The National Research Council's studies show that the average illegal immigrant pays much more in taxes than he gets in services, so don't try to bring that old lie up.All of them pay sales and property taxes, and two-thirds pay Medicare, Social Security and personal income taxes.Although you're sure to find some bad apples, the majority of illegal immigrants are people who are trying to work within the system but keep getting jerked around by the USCIS apparatchiks.

The immigration process is arbitrary, unfair and unjust.Yes, overstaying a work visa or green card is illegal, but so what?

Let's take a look back at why we even have laws in this country in the first place.The basic idea can be summed up in 55 words from the Declaration of Independence.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed."

Everyone, everywhere across the world has the exact same rights, and the U.S. government was created to protect them when it can. It does not have the power to give rights or to take them away.Someone born in Jurez has just as much right to apply for a job at a Walmart in Fayetteville as omeone born in Honolulu does.

The vast majority of American laws are good ones.They protect us from murderers and crooks and dangerous drivers.But occasionally, a rule will conflict with the natural law and violate someone's rights.We all have the moral obligation to respect others' rights.However, an ordinary civilian is under absolutely no moral obligation to obey an unjust law.It's wrong to break a law against rape because that violates someone's rights, but it's not wrong to break a law against aiding a runaway slave.

If the immigration process were reformed and the USCIS started using a just process, then you might be able to make a case that illegal residents are doing something immoral.But why should a hard-working student be deemed undeserving of some private financial assistance just because an incompetent federal agency is too bureaucratic to process her papers?

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue