IS IMMIGRATION A NATURAL RIGHT?

border.pngAt A REPLY TO NOVADEMOCRAT, I got a very worthwhile comment from plainandsimplecatholicism. I hope you will agree that it warrants your consideration. I believe ‘s comment provides an excellent springboard for a debate on immigration. Hence I have included my reply to comment and invite others, pro and con, to add their own thoughts to the comment thread.

plainandsimplecatholicism

I really don’t think it is appropriate to recreate my entire blog on this one post. It is a public blog and you are encouraged to read it.

The immigration issue is not one being properly addressed by either party. One side wishes to violate national sovereignty and the other wises to violate natural rights.

The key is to balance both interests without immense prejudice on one or the other. The boarder needs security. But even a militarized boarder–as East Germany and North Korea prove–are not a deterrent to the desperate. It requires a look at the root causes for the migrations. The root causes are a lack of authentic human development in impoverished nations south of us. The solutions thus far presented are to throw money at the problem and hope it goes away. (Or you support “fair and free elections” in El Salvador which gives legitimacy to the military dictator oppressing everyone. http://www.latinorebels.com/2016/02/11/why-hillary-clinton-doesnt-deserve-the-latino-vote2/)

You may ask why should we care about the banana republics and their problems. The answer is simple: Solidarity. Like it or not, we are all connected by our humanity. It was never the design of the creator that we be divided. Though we may not be united now in common worship of the Almighty due to our various misconceptions of the same, we can perceive our common humanity and the inherent dignity therein. It was Jefferson who immortalized in American philosophy the founding principle that ALL men are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights. When any human is denied these rights, we as humans have a duty to them inherent in the rights we share as humans.

August 8, 2016 at 9:56 am

Citizen Tom

@plainandsimplecatholicism

You sort of explained what you think is wrong with both of the political party’s positions on immigration, but I wonder if you clearly explain your own. I believe you think that immigration is some sort of natural right, that it is unstoppable. I believe neither of those assertions is true. Moreover, The Declaration of Independence does not support a natural right to immigrate. If we are willing to do so, we have the capacity to control our borders. We just have to elect people who will do it.

Should we defer to the opinions of our Creator? Yes. Should we recognize each others natural rights? Yes. Should we recognize the natural rights of other Peoples? Yes.

Nevertheless, borders have significance. Without borders OUR GOVERNMENT cannot protect OUR natural rights. Why? Every country tends to have a distinct culture and its own ways. Our belief that we have God-given rights is part of OUR culture. It is not part of the culture of other Peoples.

The United States the home of the People of the United States. We, The People of the United States, have a distinct identity. For the sake of our children, we have a duty, an obligation, to protect that identity. We have a duty keep our country, our home, safe for OUR distinct culture, to preserve the blessings of our beliefs as a gift to our children. To maintain our own culture and to protect the security of our home, we have an obligation to properly control who enters our home.

So what about our solidarity with the Peoples of other nations? What about our common humanity? We love as individuals, not as nations. Individuals care, not governments. As individuals we can work to assist the poor in other nations through private charities.

Does our government have a role? Yes, but government rarely works well. Government is designed to exert force, not to persuade. Therefore, when we resort to government, we should do so in desperation. Otherwise, we are more likely to create bigger problems.

Because it exists to either make people do things they do not want to do or to keep people from doing things they want to do, government is powerful. However, government is organized as a committee of committees. So government is terribly awkward. Imagine trying to drive home a thumbtack with a huge sledge hammer. Doable but usually far more abusive than helpful.

August 8, 2016 at 8:47 pm

Why have I focused so much on this issue? Trump launched his candidacy with the attention he brought to the issue. Consider the angry nature of the debate. Consider that this issue could decide the election.

We can debate what Khizer Khan said at the Democratic Party’s National Convention until Dooms Day, but that won’t resolve the immigration debate. To intelligently resolve immigration debate, we have to talk about the ethics of immigration. Instead, we have one side beating the other over the head as bigots. At the same time, the so-called bigots are calling the name callers “politically correct”. Such a discussion is unlikely to produce good results.

What has done is calmly addressed the ethics of the matter, and I hope that strikes everyone as much more constructive place to start the discussion.

19 thoughts on “IS IMMIGRATION A NATURAL RIGHT?

  1. The Democrat Party is using the poor and downtrodden of other nations as fodder for their relentless quest to impose tyranny upon The People of the United States.

    As a result, the present debate concerning immigration is not only a diversion, but a waste of time.

    Every nation must maintain control over its boarders, otherwise it is not a nation.

    And it is common sense (simple reasoning) that a nation actively choose who it allows to live within its boarders or become citizens.

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    1. You are basically saying that the fate of millions of people and the livelihoods is a waste of time. How pro-life of you.

      Yes, secure the boarder. But migrants have rights. Strike the balance.

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      1. @plainandsimplecatholicism

        I don’t think silenceofmind said that. Think about it. In one comment you condemned petty emotional appeals. What do you think that accusation constitutes, an appeal to logic? It certain does not sound like one.

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        1. It is a statement of fact. I’ll put it into a syllogism.

          If there are millions of immigrants and the immigration debate decides the fate of immigrants, then millions of peoples’ fates rest on the immigration debate. But, if the immigration debate is a waste of time, then the fates of those people, logically, is also a waste of time.

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  2. “And it is common sense (simple reasoning) that a nation actively choose who it allows to live within its boarders or become citizens.”

    I thought the freedom of association and to be a citizen or resident of a country rested with the citizen or resident, not in the State to decide… I think that’s the point, right?

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        1. KIA,

          I cannot go into a foreign country without its permission.

          Likewise, foreigners need official permission from the US federal government to enter into the United States.

          That property is basic to a nation being a nation.

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        2. yes, but who ‘owns’ the property of the united states? are we then ‘property’ of the country? i don’t think it’s a simple as most people think it is

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  3. In all honesty, the ethics of the situation are really all that matter. Petty emotional appeals are irrelevant and get people killed.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The concept of specific “natural” or “God given” rights in the sense that it is given here is a fairly new and controversial phenomenon in the world, a concept which is not actually enshrined anywhere in the Constitution. It is mentioned in the Declaration of Independence, but more as a rhetorical device to overcome the traditional concept of the “divine right of Kings” which had been the theological justification of sovereignty to that point.

    Although there is much history of divine or natural “law” specifically in regard to our moral “responsibilities” to each other and to God, until the Enlightenment, there simply is no Christian theology of “divine rights”. Arguably Christians who knew Jesus (who told many parables that accepted master/slave relationships) would have been astounded and confused at the language, mush less the concept of a natural right. These Enlightenment invented Natural Rights beg the obvious historical question, “If these rights are so damn “natural” and “God given” why did they not naturally exist in the thousands of years of civilization, and particularly in Christian civilization until just a a few hundred years ago?”

    As Catholic Philosopher Alasdair Macintyre stated in “After Virtue”:

    “…that there is no expression in any ancient or medieval language correctly translated by our expression ‘a right’ until near the close of the middle ages: the concept lacks any means of expressionism Hebrew, Greek, Latin or Aribic classical or medieval, before about 1400, let alone in Old English, or in Japanese even as late as the nineteenth century. From this it does not of course follow that there are no natural or human rights; it only follows that no one could have known that there were. And this at least raises certain questions. But we do not need to be distracted into answering them, for the truth is plain: there are no such rights, and the belief in them is one with belief in witches and unicorns.

    “The best reason for asserting so bluntly that there are no such rights is indeed of precisely the same type as the best reason which we possess for asserting that there are no witches and the best reason which we possess for asserting that there are no unicorns: every attempt to give good reasons that there are such rights has failed. The eighteenth-century philosophical defenders of natural rights sometimes suggest that the assertions which state that men possess them are self-evident truths; but we know that there are no self-evident truths. Twentieth-century moral philosophers have sometimes appealed to their and our intuitions; but one of the things that we ought to have learned from the history of moral philosophy is that the introduction of the word ‘intuition’ by a moral philosopher is always a signal that something has gone badly wrong with an argument.”

    “Human Rights” are important, but we need to realize that there is nothing “natural” about them. They are creatures of government-made law, arbitrated mainly by government-run courts and enforced by governental agencies. That is not to say that rights are not based on the evolving religious and philosophical cultural norms which go hand-in-hand with the development of our traditions of law. But rights are inherently rational and artificial inventions that, although I keeping with cultural norms, but which a very much imperfect, not absolute and human law manufactured. In our case, those legal and cultural traditions point toward one of religious tolerance and pluralism. It’s those long standing American traditions that say that it is wrong legally and morally to have a religious test for immigrants, not a belief in unicorns and witches.

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    1. @Tony

      No Christian theology of divine rights…. No self-evident truths….

      What is self-evident? If God did not give us our rights, then we have no rights. There are only those who have power and those who do not.

      What is self-evident — what is amazing is that God cares about us. What is God? An Infinite Being? The Creator? Why would He care about us? Who knows? Yet His Creation is a delicate artwork so detailed, so orderly, and so beautiful that He must care even about us, little pieces of fragile clay that He carefully molds each moment of our lives.

      The Bible says God made us in His image. God calls Himself our Father; He calls us His children. Yet He respects our will, our puny little will. He wants us to love Him freely. He gives us the choice of loving Him, loving Him with all our heart, all our strength, all our mind, and all our soul — or not.

      He says that if we love Him then we must obey His commands, and He commands us to love each other as we love ourselves. For we are His children; we are brothers and sisters. His family.

      Galatians 3:26-29 New King James Version (NKJV)
      Sons and Heirs

      26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

      We are brothers and sisters. His our Father and our Master.

      Romans 14:4 New King James Version (NKJV)

      4 Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand.

      I don’t belong to you, and you don’t belong to me. We are each clay in His Hands, not each others hands. He gives us our rights and our just rewards.

      He has given us each Life so that we might choose to love Him.

      He has given us each Liberty so that we might choose to give Him glory in service to Him.

      He has given us each the opportunity to Pursue Happiness in virtue by focusing on Him.

      He alone has the right to be our Master.

      What is an idol? An idol is anything that we put before our Master. That is why Freedom of Religion equates to the Rights to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. It is not enough to worship God privately in a closet. We must love Him by giving our life in service to Him.

      Consider, for example, the problem of desiring wealth for its own sake.

      Matthew 6:24 New King James Version (NKJV)

      24 “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.

      Thus, the Bible says we can only have one Master, and that is why only those who serve God are free. All others are slaves to sin.

      John 8:31-36 New King James Version (NKJV)

      The Truth Shall Make You Free

      31 Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. 32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

      33 They answered Him, “We are Abraham’s descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can You say, ‘You will be made free’?”

      34 Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. 35 And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. 36 Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.

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      1. Tom – you have made a wonderful argument that we have “natural” and “universal” Christian “responsibilities” to one another, and I completely agree with that argument. What you have not proven is your fanciful “unicorn” of a “God given” “right”. Aside from the historical and etymological fact, already pointed out by McIntyre, that no such term or concept actually exists in the original language of the Bible, or in the history of Christian civilization up until the 15th Century, there are many other insurmountable theological and philosophical problems with the idea of “natural rights”.

        First of all, in Aristotilian teleological terms, saying every Christian has a God given “right” to get to Heaven is like saying that every acorn has a God given “right” to become an oak tree. Every acorn may have a natural God given potential toward oak treeness, but that potentiality is not determinative, it is instead contingent on many mysterious God given factors. Similarly, every human being may have the potentiality of returning to God through the love of Jesus and the grace of the Holy Spirit, but that potentiality is very much contingent on many factors, including having the opportunity and “will” to do so, seeking and recieving the loving grace of the Holy Spirit, and even when that God given potential to return to God is blocked by a multitude of “God given” obstacles.

        You make a very good argument that every human has a natural “responsibility” to do what he or she is made by God to “naturally” do, and that is to return to God. You also make an excellent argument that we Christians gardeners have a responsibility to tend our social and legal gardens so as to not put obstacles, and lovingly encourage every human acorn to reach their God given potential, but unlike acorns, because God gave us “free will” and because God mysteriously tests us with temptations and obstacles, you cannot ultimately determine for each human or even know God’s plan for each and every human.

        You have therefore proven very well what is written in the Bible, and exemplified by Jesus that we all have a “responsibility” to return to God despite (and even because of) contingent obstacles to doing so. You have also very well proven that Christians, by our love, have a God given “responsibility” to help others return to God, and that might include fashioning balanced and loving laws that metaphorically “water the oak garden and pull out the weeds”, but nowhere have you provided proof that God anywhere has said or shown us that every acorn must have all the water it wants, the best soil it needs, and all the sunlight required. I wish it were true, but God’s universe seems to work in mysterious ways that appear just the opposite. Your deterministic argument for “God given” rights falls under same logical axe that the Philosopher Karl Popper made against all such deterministic schemes – too many factors and too many unknowns to fix such things as absolutes or on what theological and historical basis do you decide which rights are absolute and God given. Do you seriously believe for example that Jesus was a materialist who defined or cared about absolute property rights? Nonsense.

        A second and related problem with your view of “natural rights”, is that if indeed, “rights” were God given, then they would indeed be “absolute” rather than relative and contingent. But that is not at all how rights work in practice. For example, we have a constitutional legal right to free speech, but that right is not absolute. We cannot yell “fire” in a crowded theater. If you read the history of constitutional law with regard to individual rights protection, you will find case after case where legally defined fundamental rights of the individual are balanced against the legal rights of other individuals and “substantial” public interests with regard to public safety and security. In reality, there is no God given bright line with regard to rights, but instead very recently invented human legal conventions that are imperfect and very much relative to facts of time, place and manner. I know that we all would love to have bright lines in life but such a bright line simply does not exist in our constitutional legal traditions, which live day-to-day in the murky and constantly changing factually changing legal grounds between competing virtues and vices.

        So instead of focusing on these unicorns that you call “God given rights” why don’t we look where we agree: that we have God given “responsibilities” to be open and loving, compassionate and welcoming? Your argument for blocking diverse and desperate immigrant refugees, including innocent children, is essentially this: if we allow this flood of multicultural human misery to wash over our nation, then we will cease to essentially be Christian and American. The other side of the argument is this: if we ignore and wall ourselves away from the suffering of the multitudes simply because they are of different religions, races and ethnicities, then we essentially will cease to be Christian and American. Both sides have practical concerns with regard to domestic and geopolitical safety and security. Why can’t we do what what the commentator that this post was addressing said to do, and that is just strike a human and Christian balance?

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Unfortunately, every time i listen to an immigration discussion, passion eventually enters in instead of a reason. Passion because both sides usually consider their personal views, or interests, rather than the best or most meaningful interests and long range future of our nation.

    Regards and goodwill blogging

    Liked by 1 person

    1. @scatterwisdom

      Well, there is that, but there is also considerable disagreement over what constitutes the best or most meaningful interests and long range future of our nation. Since none of us read minds, it is can be quite difficult to know what motivates people.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. “Well, there is that, but there is also considerable disagreement over what constitutes the best or most meaningful interests and long range future of our nation. Since none of us read minds, it is can be quite difficult to know what motivates people.”

        If you consider the Maslow Pyramid, all immigration begins with basic needs and progresses upward on the Pyramid of Needs.

        Today’s immigration problems in the USA is a result of USA natural resources being more abundant than other areas in the world…..and…..the need for workers. Problem in the USA with immigration is we are importing people and exporting jobs.

        If Trump could be successful to return job opportunities to the USA, immigrants will find a way into the USA in even greater numbers, and perhaps be welcomed again rather than hated. In other words, Trump could be a ‘savior’ for illegal immigrants and loved rather than hated by immigrants if he returns lot job opportunism in the USA.

        If the USA does not act to control immigration problems, the future social and economic Maslow Pyramid will compete more in the lowest level and result in anarchy in time. Especially as our nation becomes more secular instead of religious. We are now experiencing the beginnings of anarchy as evidenced by upward trends of violence, drugs, and lawlessness reversing the downward trends that occurred in the past thirty years.

        In other words, the future psychology of Maslow Pyramid will focus more on the bottom hierarchy needs than on the top. The future of the USA will continue to trend in a downward spiral as the violence chart trend spirals up.

        The upward trend in job opportunities for security personnel in the USA is further proof.

        http://www.simplypsychology.org/maslow.html

        Regards and goodwill blogging.

        Like

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