Eight ethics observations on the army of child illegals clogging the Mexican border:
1. I predicted this would happen four years ago, and anyone who was paying attention should have been able to as well. Both the actions of President Obama, in essentially enacting the unethical “Dream Act” by fiat, and the rhetoric surrounding the “Dream Act” itself, constituted a national invitation to parents to send their children to the border. A nation cannot provide incentives to break the law, celebrate those who break it, and then credibly tell us that they are dismayed when a flood of law-breakers appear.
2. Even more influential in attracting desperate children to the border has been the loud, reckless and irresponsible messages coming from all quarters that the U.S. doesn’t regard law-breaking as anything but admirable and forgivable when children are involved. California, to the applause of lawyers and most of my colleagues in the legal ethics establishment, has allowed an illegal immigrant, brought here as a child, to practice law. Jeb Bush, proving himself to be muddle-headed, a rank sentimentalist, or a coward, pronounced illegal immigration with children as “an act of love.” Come on—the United States of America isn’t going to make love illegal, is it? Didn’t we just go through this with gay marriage? Democrats and illegal immigration advocates use the term “comprehensive immigration reform” as a code for “open borders,” and the code has been cracked in South America.
3. Yes, the anti-child trafficking law, the Wilburforce Act, was sloppily written and carelessly conceived—aren’t all our laws of late?—but it was also drafted and signed in 2008. The Obama Administration had six full years to figure out that this wave was coming and to close the loophole: it didn’t want to. How do we know? The spending bill Obama has sent to Congress to deal with the current crisis includes no request to amend or eliminate the law. This is one of the more audacious and dishonest of Obama’s “duck accountability and blame Bush” excuses.
4. Obama has shown with the Affordable Care Act that he is willing to defy the Constitution and unilaterally disobey laws, refuse to enforce them, or amend them —when he wants to. His response to the objections of narrow-minded Constitutionalists is, and I quote, “So sue me”…which the Republicans are. Now, as we are overwhelmed by children streaming across the border due to a “loophole” that Congress would dearly like to see closed as well, he is arguing that his hands are tied. Speaking of hands, let’s have a show of them, please. What is inconsistent here?
5. The news media is disgracing itself , but with more brio mixed with gall than usual. Almost no outlets call this illegal immigration any more; it is always “immigration”: all the better to paint those cruel sticklers for enforcing laws and taking national sovereignty seriously as racists, and to recite the inscription on the Statue of Liberty ad nauseum.
6. The next ploy is a full-throated “Think of the darling children!” assault. NPR’s Cokey Roberts, reminding us that she is a mother, went full-bleeding heart on ABC’s This Week With George Stephanopoulos, passionately condemning those who won’t help these poor children, and the law be damned—which is 1) the message that the Democrats, California, Maryland, and mushy Republicans like Jeb Bush have been sending for six years or more, 2) illogical, emotional, and irresponsible, and 3) appealing and persuasive to the large number of Americans who have trouble tying their shoes every morning. Monday, Chris Cuomo on CNN made essentially the same “argument,” which can be paraphrased as “Oh the humanity!”
7. The fact that Assad is killing children in Syria somehow never moved these same sensitive souls to support U.S. military action that would strengthen our national security and interests, but they nonetheless feel a moral obligation to admit a mass of instant, non-English-speaking orphans, with some adults, criminals, and gang members mixed in, costing the U.S. in taxpayer dollars, creating social upheaval, over-burdening social services, and motivating more of the same indefinitely. We can’t be the world’s policeman; we should just be the world’s foster care facility.
8. The President harps on the fact that the GOP controlled House won’t pass the Senate’s immigration reform bill. It’s far, far from a perfect bill—among other things, is it laden with the kind of procedural and bureaucratic complexities that are doing in the ACA—but it is an improvement over what we have now. Where immigration is concerned, we are beyond the “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good” stage and well into the “Don’t let the flawed but comprehensible be the enemy of the putrid but still better than Hell” stage….except for one thing. The Senate Bill includes the Dream Act, which gives an incentive to break the immigration laws. Will Obama promise the House that he would sign a bill that omitted the Dream Act? Of course not.
That would require compromise and responsible leadership.
I did not specify the ethical principles being breached in these enumerated examples of misconduct, so let me do so now:
1. Competence, integrity, responsibility, citizenship
2. Ditto, plus fairness and respect for the rule of law.
3. Competence, accountability, honesty
4. Honesty, integrity, consistency
5. Journalistic integrity, competence, and objectivity.
7. Responsibility, citizenship and integrity.
Oh yes…it’s an ethics train wreck, all right.