Ethics Quiz: Christmas Eve At Kamala’s

They aren’t “migrants,” they are illegal immigrants, breaking the laws of a nation where they don’t belong. They are, however, people.

About 130 illegal immigrants, fresh from Texas, were off-loaded from buses in front Vice President Kamala Harris’s home on one of the coldest Christmas Eves ever in Washington, D.C.

They arrived after a 36-hour journey, many without clothes or blankets to gird against the weather, though non-profit groups arrived to coordinate travel and housing and provide food, coats, gloves and shoes to cope with the sub-twenty degree temperatures. The buses were sent by the Texas Division of Emergency Management, directed by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.

“They have been doing that for a few months now; it’s all for the spectacle,” a pro-illegal immigration activist told the New York Times. “The cruelty is the point. It’s awful to use people in this manner, for political reasons.”

Kant held that it is unethical to “use people” for any reasons. Then again, Vice-President Harris, charged with dealing with the administration’s border-crossing fiasco, has agreed with the Department of Homeland Security that the border is secure. Washington, D.C. is blandly repeating that talking point, and the news media is spinning it.

We had a similar ethics quiz in September, and many of the issues are the same, but I regard the distinction between sending the border-jumpers to the charming and elite resort of Martha’s Vineyard in the Fall and busing them to D.C. to arrive in freezing December weather material.

Your Ethics Alarm Ethics Quiz of the Day is…

Is Abbott’s shipping illegal immigrants from sunny Mexico to freezing Washington unethical?

Abbott’s office says that the shippees “consented.” I doubt that such consent is truly informed or voluntary: I wonder what the other options presented to them were? Still, can the stunt be defended as a utilitarian measure focusing public attention where a biased news media has been trying to avoid clarity (“migrants”), resulting in condign justice?

A related issue is what the ethical response from Harris should have been. Ann Althouse writes,

I wonder, if Kamala Harris wanted to seize this occasion and make an impressive showing for herself, what could she do? I understand the response that is to do nothing and to deny her adversaries the power to require that she react to a circumstance that they created. But what if she wanted to say or do something… on Christmas? Kamala Harris is a Christian — a Baptist.

My reactions to that:

  • She’s a Baptist who supports abortion on demand. I don’t think Harris’s alleged religious beliefs mean anything, in this matter or any others.
  • Harris was in ethics zugzwang. If she took the people in, gave them food and temporary shelter, then more buses would be on the way, and her symbolic act would be represented as an open birder endorsement. Doing nothing, in contrast, makes her look like a hypocrite, as indeed all of the distant supporters of illegal immigration are.
  • Is Harris capable of making an “impressive showing of herself”?
  • “They created” this situation? Seriously, Ann?

34 thoughts on “Ethics Quiz: Christmas Eve At Kamala’s

  1. I have a hard time calling it unethical given that images of El Paso showed illegal aliens bundled up because of extreme cold. The polar vortex that descended on DC area also reached into Texas. Again, the Texas power grid was straining because cold spells like this are rare. Moving people north were it may be colder but have localities who are able to provide warming shelters makes sense even if it was not the reasoning.

    What is unethical is putting governors of states in the position of dealing with the federal issue when the president files suit against them for trying to keep the illegals from entering and overtaxing the resource base of the state.

    • Totally agree. This is a Federal issue and responsibility, not the states whose geographical situation makes them primary targets for illegal immigrants.

    • The photo indicates that these people were boarding the bus, and each had coats or blankets. The question I have is why the bus can’t go south rather than north? If we are concerned about them being cold, then traveling toward the Equator would have made more sense.

  2. I disagree: this isn’t any ethics zugzwang. It is a whole scale failure of federal leadership.

    But, answer me this: What should border states do with them, then? Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico have social services stretched to the breaking point, local municipalities can’t handle the flood of people crossing the border in droves, and local charities don’t have thr resources to accommodate the sheer volume of people. Texas can’t declare war on Mexico for allowing this crisis to happen – Lopez Obrador, fine socialist he is, has not sealed Mexico’s southern border allowing these “migrant” caravans to cross through his country uninhibited, carrying signs demanding rights in the USA for which they don’t qualify (asylum doesn’t include the desire for a better life; it is a specific remedy available to those fleeing political oppression and the idiots in the government and the media never define what it is).

    This is a federal government issue where both parties and all branches of government have wholly failed. The US Congress hasn’t reformed migration laws in 40 years and the system is overwhelmed.

    So, again, what are border states supposed to do? Nobody has an answer but when Abbott drops them off at the VP’s house he is the bad guy. Harris has proven, once again, to be incompetent, inept, and indecisive.

    If politics is about the show, she could have met the caravans of Texas busses with food, clothing and resources for lodging. She could have used the compliant press to her advantage, but she dithered and hid away from the problem caused by her own administration. The press dutifully hammered Abbott and DeSantis for some naive and uninformed notion that they violated sacred tenets of their Christian faith, a faith the media and the Left reject. They can spare me their rending of garments and gnashing of teeth.


  3. This was a morality test.

    1. Knowingly dropping off any group of human beings into sub freezing weather that could be dangerous if not properly prepared for with appropriate clothing was immoral, period. Regardless of the transport directive given to the driver, the bus driver had a moral obligation to the human beings on the bus and the driver failed that morality test to push a political agenda.

    2. Kamala Harris is the Vice President of the United States of America and as such she had a moral obligation to do something to assist the human beings dumped at her doorstep in sub-freezing weather regardless of any possible political backlash, she failed that morality test.

    3. Texas Division of Emergency Management directed by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott had a moral obligation to insure that the human beings they were transporting at this time of year were going to have immediate services at the other end of their journey so they weren’t put in a dangerous position due to inclement winter weather, they failed that morality test.

    4. I get what Gov. Abbott is doing politically and I personally don’t have a huge issue with the underlying premise; however, putting the transportees in physical danger is completely unacceptable, period.

    This one gets a great big MORAL FAIL from me and everyone, regardless of your opinion about illegal immigration, should be particularly ashamed that this kind of disregard of human life moral fiasco took place in the United States of America.

    Justification for any part of this particular political fiasco is a slippery slope that I refuse to step on.

    • I agree completely. No one looks good here. It’s only a question of who’s the worst. There, I suspect, Steve and I might disagree. But, in the spirit of Yuletide camaraderie, let’s concentrate on where we agree.

      • Curmie wrote, “It’s only a question of who’s the worst.”

        No question in my mind at all, the driver releasing them under the existing weather conditions knowing full well that they were not properly prepared for the cold temperatures was the worst immoral action of all. The driver had a immediate danger kind of moral choice and he chose politics over humanity.

        • Did the driver really choose politics over morals/ethics? I think the driver was just doing a job, and not thinking a whole lot about the consequences of doing that job. That, though, is more immoral than unethical because it is the proverbial “good people doing nothing.” Yet, putting the onus on the bus driver is wickedly unfair. What are the bus drivers supposed to do? They are not using their own busses, they are driving for a company with obligations to perform their jobs. Maybe the bus companies should say, “thanks, but no thanks. We are not purring our people in the middle of a political war between the state and federal governments.”


          • johnburger2013 wrote, “Yet, putting the onus on the bus driver is wickedly unfair.”

            I disagree.

            The bus driver(s) were literally the last line of defense against an impending immoral action.

            This does not in any way negate the unethical actions of others.

            johnburger2013 wrote, “What are the bus drivers supposed to do?”

            Take their passengers somewhere else – for instance a heated bus station or church or Salvation Army or Union Station – there are PLENTY of viable options that don’t put them in imminent physical danger. Don’t allow them to be basically kicked off the bus and put in a situation where they’re in imminent physical danger. Stand up and make it known to all that a line has been crossed and you won’t participate in an immoral action that puts human beings in physical danger. It’s all about choices.

            Someone has to stand up and say “NO” in a resounding voice when morals are clearly being violated.

            • I am a former bus driver. Most of my miles accrued in public transportation, but I’ve also got some tour and interstate miles.
              My imagination cannot muster a circumstance of being able to remove a single unwilling passenger. I am skeptical about the driver doing anything to remove passengers.
              I was responsible for the safety of the passengers, which includes the responsibility to discharge passengers in a safe location.
              I don’t have the play by play, but I would speculate that passengers were allowed to remain on board until someone else came along to take responsibility for their safety.
              I’d be pissed off that I had been put in that situation and even more pissed off for being intentionally put in that situation.

            • “Take their passengers somewhere else – for instance a heated bus station or church or Salvation Army or Union Station”

              Wait. Is Union Station, 500 miles north of DC, a homeless shelter? Which church in that area is able to accommodate an immediate influx of hundreds of unprepared travelers? Which bus station is equipped to address the needs of hundreds of displaced travelers? The drivers could have said at the outset, “yeah, no.” The bus companies could have said, “Uh, nope.” The travelers could have stayed where they were – you know, like Honduras, Peru, El Salvador, Mexico, and the whole mess would have been avoided. Hell, the honorable drug cartels and coyotes could have lived up to their Christian mores by providing really nice places for them to stay until their immigration cases are heard – I mean, they are charging for the immigration services so the least you could expect is that they do the right thin. . . oh. Never mind.


              • johnburger2013 wrote, “Is Union Station… a homeless shelter?”


                johnburger2013 wrote, “Which church in that area is able to accommodate an immediate influx of hundreds of unprepared travelers?”

                I don’t know.

                johnburger2013 wrote, “Which bus station is equipped to address the needs of hundreds of displaced travelers?”

                Likely none but it literally wasn’t my point to address the needs of displaced travelers it was to not drop them off in a situation that would put them in imminent physical danger due to the weather.

                johnburger2013 wrote, “The travelers could have stayed where they were – you know, like Honduras, Peru, El Salvador, Mexico, and the whole mess would have been avoided. Hell, the honorable drug cartels and coyotes could have lived up to their Christian mores by providing really nice places for them to stay until their immigration cases are heard – I mean, they are charging for the immigration services so the least you could expect is that they do the right thin. . . oh.”

                Isn’t that literally irrelevant to the issue at hand?

                • No. The issue is that the flood of people across the southern border. They put themselves in this situation. The paid coyotes and cartels thousands of dollars. If they stayed home, they wouldn’t be bussed to DC or New York, or wherever else. At some point, responsibility for their plight must be laid at their feet. It is unethical to cross thousands of miles to the US, completely unprepared and not entitled to rights, and then demand the US give them stuff.


                  • johnburger2013,
                    It’s clear to me that you and I aren’t going to agree as to what’s relevant in dropping off illegal immigrants in dangerous sub-freezing temperatures in Washington DC, nearly 2,000 miles from their entry point into the USA, so I’ll bow out.

  4. To answer the question directly,

    “Is Abbott’s shipping illegal immigrants from sunny Mexico to freezing Washington unethical?”

    Wouldn’t calling it unethical after the fact because of the weather be a form of consequentialism? No, the act of shipping them is not unethical.

    What was wrong was the lack of action to insure that the transportees were safe in potentially dangerous winter weather, this part was a moral fail.

    • But they weren’t in Mexico. They left Mexico and illegally entered Texas. If they wanted to be warm, they could have stayed in Mexico. They were in freezing Texas. Shipping them from freezing Texas to freezing DC? Isn’t there an obligation to accurately state the issue?

        • Au contraire, mon frere. Houston temperatures got down into to the high teens with the wind chill factor. Granted, it lasted two days but Texas houses are not equipped for that temperature

          Was dumping them off in DC ethical? No. But, again, what are states supposed to do? When Title 42 expires there is expected to be a huge increase in crossings.


          • We had single-digit temps (not counting wind chill) in East Texas for two days, and below freezing for a couple more. It’s still dropping below freezing at night. Not sure how relevant any of this is, but it’s been very cold here by local standards, matched only in my 20+ years here by Snowmageddon in February of ’21.

            • Maybe, but whether wind chill is a cheat or not is red herring to the real issue: What is Texas supposed to do with all of the undocumented/illegal.migrant/asylumseeker aliens/disenfranchised/downtrodden people streaming unimpeded across its southern border? The mayors of the border towns, most of whom are card-carrying Democrats, are pleading for help. Have you seen the video footage of El Paso? Shelters are beyond capacity, people of living in the streets, with no money, food, clothing, shelter or anything approximating adequate means to care for themselves. Yet, the feds are not doing squat to address the situation, forcing the states to do something. Yeah, it’s unethical to use people as political tools. Okay. Now what?

              Congress is fighting about how much money to send to Ukraine, and how many pet projects should be funded to keep the government working for, what?, a few more months? Biden is vacating in God knows where these days. Harris, charged with addressing the immigration mess, made a tour of Latin American countries responsible for this disaster. What was the response? To a country, they mocked her mercilessly as unprepared, unserious, and unaware, spouting nonsensical platitudes about who knows what (if you think she is vapid in English, you should read the Spanish translations). The El Salvadoran president ridiculed her. Lopez-Obrador referred to her as “tu vice presidente” in the most contemptuous tones – and Mexico is supposed to be our best Latin American ally. Honduras and Guatemala met her with massive protests. But, we are arguing about whether wind chill is a cheat – tell that to the people suffering in the streets.

              Which, then, leads me to the ultimate question: When are the people who cause this problem going to be held responsible for their own misery? Who are they? The supposed “migrants looking for a better life” who leave their homelands, travel long distances to a country where they have no rights whatsoever, violate that country’s laws and demand rights and benefits, with no means of caring for themselves, no food, water, adequate clothing? Please. And, don’t give that “Give your poor . . .” nonsense. Those who spout it are either clueless or intentionally ignoring reality. These are the same people criticizing Abbott and DiSantis for their un-Christian actions – did those same critics read the Catechism, which discusses the immigrants obligations to obey the country’s laws and procedures, and the directive to assimilate to the new country’s culture? Did they? No.


              • The question is “Which solutions to the problem are ethical?” If they aren’t ethical, then “We have to do SOMETHING!” isn’t a valid answer. Would it be ethical to ship the illegals to the Arctic, like they did with The Blob? Presumably not. How about dropping them into a deserted island. Nah, too strict. This is simply a line drawing exercise, no?

            • Friday December 23 in El Paso Low of 18 degrees F Washington DC., 12 degrees F
              Saturday, December 24 in El Paso Low of 21 degrees F Washington D.C. 9 degrees F
              Sunday, December 25 in El Paso Low of 23 degreees F Washington D.C. 14 degreees F.

              The data would seem to indicate it was below freezing in BOTH places!


              So, the South has to bear the burden of ALL the illegal immigrants all winter? If it falls below freezing in El Paso, do we have to send them to Hawaii where it is warmer (Greg Abbot, take note)? Do we get to send ALL of them North in the summertime when it is uncomfortably hot here? Ooh, below freezing in December up north! How could that happen? If they wanted to be warm, we could have sent them south to Mexico. Why aren’t we allowed to do that? They are talking about 20,000 people/day coming into some of the cities from Mexico in January. It is a few thousand/day now in El Paso and you are saying the US capitol with all the money and resources in the world can’t handle a few hundred because it was cold and this constitutes a problem? Give me a break and spare me the sob story.

              Yes, wind chill DOES affect houses. When the wind is blowing a lot, it cools the surface of the house dramatically. For someone who lives in an old house, the effect is quite dramatic.

              Oh, we can’t send them all north because ICE has lost ALL the data about the illegal aliens it is ‘tracking’ in their ‘Alternatives to Detention’ program. I’m sure that was just and accident.

              I am just upset about this because in my town, several hundred people were displaced and/or made homeless on Friday and Saturday because sprinkler systems burst in a number of apartment complexes in town. It isn’t anywhere on the news, even here. I would guess this has happened in almost every town around here and I’m sure in Texas as well. Most were thrown out into the cold with only the wet clothes on their backs and no one cares. There is no government program, no shelter, no food. I only know about it because some of them contacted my church when no one else would help. I’m glad we had that coat drive last week. I guess they need to drive south to Mexico and enter the country claiming to be illegal aliens for it to matter. They didn’t do anything wrong, they didn’t break any laws, and aside from a few churches, no one cares about them.

            • Does wind chill effect houses?
              For people in Texas living in older houses, the wind can seep in through closed windows & doors and the walls. The heating capabilities are generally barely succeeding in keeping the house warm. Add to the grid frailty and that Texans typically rely on electric heat, wind chill matters to the people in the houses.

    • Except it was known (or knowable ) that the DC weather would be below freezing, so this was not an unplanned consequence of the action. If the temp had suddenly topped 70 in DC, it wouldn’t mitigate what Abbott did from an ethics standpoint.

      • Jack wrote, “Except it was known (or knowable ) that the DC weather would be below freezing, so this was not an unplanned consequence of the action. If the temp had suddenly topped 70 in DC, it wouldn’t mitigate what Abbott did from an ethics standpoint.”

        Right or wrong, I see two completely separate issues. First is the single action of shipping/transporting them which I don’t call ethical but I also don’t call it unethical, it hovers a gray line in my book so I choose to label it as being “not unethical”. Second is releasing them into below freezing weather, unprepared for the weather, and without services physically waiting there for them which I see as immoral.

        At this point in time I give Gov. Abbott a one and one on this but I could be convinced to change my mind on the first issue based on debate.

  5. The resources for helping these people in Texas are tapped out. The well there is dry. They knew that a well-publicized stunt like that would force the NIMBYs in the rich suburbs of Washington, DC to actually do something to help these people. It was coercive, but it was certain to get help for the illegal aliens that have thrown themselves into that situation.

    • Call it the LARI program (Liberals Assume Responsibility for Immigrants). Of course, Texas could also retain some cargo ships in Galveston and Corpus Christi, with the mission of ferrying these people back to wherever they came from. Bus them there, dump them in the hold, and good-bye, not our problem anymore.

  6. Kamala Harris echo’s the sentiments of her leftist cronies. They want as many illegals in this country as they can possible get, just so long as they don’t have to look at or be anywhere near them.

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