Ethicalego (Kenneth Brooks) discusses current events from a critical thinking perspective rarely expressed elsewhere
President Barack Obama’s order not to deport foreigners living here illegally is an amnesty program. Obama reported to the nation, “If you have been in America for more than five years; if you have children who are American citizens or legal residents; if you register, pass a criminal background check, and you are willing to pay your fair share of taxes you will be able to apply to stay in this country temporarily without fear of deportation.” He claims this protection from deportation is not amnesty.
I mistrust any personal, business or government communication that deceives by omission, distorts definitions, misstates fact, or appeals to emotions. Obama uses those devices to disguise the weak basis for issuing the immigration executive order.
Obama refers to “undocumented Immigrants” in his speech to suggest that he issued the executive order to address the concerns of immigrants affected by a broken immigration system. However, “undocumented immigrant” is a contradiction of logic that refers to a fantasy character without legal status.
People, foreign nationals, are not immigrants in America except by documents of a proper sponsor’s application for an immigration visa on their behalf, and with the foreign national receiving an approved petition. “Undocumented” is someone lacking proper immigration or working papers. Therefore, undocumented describes a foreign national living illegally in America. But “undocumented immigrant” is the logical contradiction of someone lacking proper immigration papers having approved documentation of immigration.
Obama claimed, “My fellow Americans, we are and always will be a nation of immigrants. We were strangers once, too. And whether our forebears were strangers who crossed the Atlantic, or the Pacific, or the Rio Grande, we are here only because this country welcomed them in, and taught them that to be an American is about something more than what we look like, or what our last names are, or how we worship.”
Obama repeats common assertions of the 19th, 20th, 21st centuries that erroneously generalize to all Americans the immigration policy experienced by European nationals. Disrespectfully they ignore the different experiences and paths to citizenship of other Americans.
I am a natural-born citizen of the United States of America and so were my parents and grandparents. My ancestors did not desire nor petition America for immigrant status. Instead, savage people kidnapped them from their African homes and communities and delivered them to equally savage American property owners. Those property owners claimed ownership of my ancestors’ bodies and labeled them slaves although they lacked the justification of monetary debt or moral obligation my ancestors owed them. They forced my ancestors to work alongside European nationals that had obligated themselves as indentured servants to pay the costs of travel here as immigrants. No matter a common humanity, those property owners constructed a “white-race-label” for European nationals with presumptions of human rights endowed by the Christian god, and path of immigration to American citizenship. In contrast, they constructed a black-race-label for African kidnapped victims without the presumption of human equality, or option for immigration. Eventually, Amendments 13 and 14 to the U.S. Constitution established citizenship for my ancestors and their descendants the same as other persons born here.
Obama also claims falsely that for more than 200 years America had a tradition of welcoming immigrants from around the world. History contradicts this claim. Instead, American domestic policy and immigration law reflected the rampant prejudice and jingoism of race, ethnicity and religion.
America’s founders approved a Constitution granting full citizenship and right to vote only to property-owning white-race-labeled males. The Naturalization Act of 1790 specified that “any alien, being a free white person,” could apply for citizenship, so long as he or she lived in the United States for at least two years.” It excluded indentured servants, free black-race labeled people and slaves.
The Chinese Exclusion Acts / Immigration Exclusion Act (1882) prohibited citizenship for Chinese immigrants. Other immigration laws including those of 1917, 1924 and 1934 excluded immigrants from China, Japan, India and the Philippines as members of an Oriental race now categorized racially Asian-American. Laws during this period also excluded immigration from Africa. Perhaps many people wrongly conclude that immigration laws prior to 1965 qualified all white-race-labeled Europeans for immigration. But immigration laws during those periods also restricted immigration to America of Jews and Catholics from Central and Eastern Europe.
The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 and subsequent law set out a more inclusive immigration policy and path to American citizenship with less exclusion based on constructions of human-race difference. Nevertheless, from misunderstanding of history or intention to deceive, Obama asserted a false 200-year American tradition of welcoming immigrants from around the world that he suggested was a precedent for amnesty provisions in his executive order. But, the logical and historical fallacies he relies on are better evidence why he should not have sole authority to impose changes to immigration policy.
Obama’s executive order protects from deportation a foreign national that lived illegally in the United States for more than five years and has an American born child. But, it does not protect a foreign national that lived here illegally four years eleven months and has an American born child. Nor does it protect a foreign national living here illegally for more than five years who does not have an American born child.
I do not see a fair, practical or uniform basis for this standard such as protecting interests of all American born children; treating all people the same that lived here illegally more than five years; or treating all people the same that came here illegally before this notice. This is why those arbitrary standards for deciding amnesty generate more unfairness and disrespect for law than it cures and why general amnesty is impractical.
The belief that more people lead to a richer society for all members is a capitalist assertion that encourages acceptance of immigration. However, the economic principle that a commodity’s value decreases with abundance should warn workers about the hazards of unregulated immigration. Business owners encourage immigration that brings in more workers that increase production and wealth in society. Then, they treat the abundance of labor as a commodity of lesser value that justifies paying workers lower wages. Therefore, high immigration rates and more people do increase wealth in society but only for capitalist investors. Nevertheless, appeals to prejudice and jingoism of race, ethnicity and religion among salaried workers encourages them to deny the fact of a common humanity and that renders them unable to to recognize and protect their common economic interests.