First Principles, Justice, and Trump’s Immigration Proposal

The United States has failed to protect the life and property of American citizens and undermined the proper end of government: justice. It has done so through disastrous immigration policies that endanger innocent lives, take low-wage jobs from citizens, and impose a burden to the social structure, tax base, and education system.

Trump’s merit-based immigration policy would be a restoration of justice and a return to first principles. The plan would assess would-be immigrants by taking into account English language ability, education, and job skills. It also would restrict chain migration and attempt to reduce frivolous asylum claims. Finally, improved border security at key points of entry and ports will help protect Americans.

America’s Founders recognized that men are endowed with certain inalienable rights and that to protect those rights they consented to form a government dedicated to protecting those rights. These rights included life, liberty, and property, rights which enable us to pursue happiness.

It has often been said that for the American republic to endure it is necessary for the citizenry to recur often to first principles. To understand why the president’s immigration proposal is a return to first principles, it is necessary to see in what ways the previous policy violated them.

First, old immigration policy undermines the consent of the governed. For the Founders, all men are endowed with certain inalienable rights by the laws of nature and nature’s God. All men are therefore equal in regards to the right to rule and because of the principle of equality, it is necessary for men to consent to form government.

Taking this principle to its logical conclusion, it is necessary both for those immigrating to consent to join a new nation and those who already compose to consent to let them join. If one or the other does not, the principle of consent has been violated.

Second, the old policy fails to protect the lives of American citizens by creating incentives for illegal immigrants to move to the United States and failing to aggressively, or efficiently remove them. The current policy of “sanctuary” cities does the same by protecting known criminals, allowing them to harm Americans’ property or, more heinously, kill innocent citizens.

Third, unrestricted immigration ignores the twin importance of creed and culture to the Founders.

The Declaration of Independence deftly proclaims the universal truth that all men are creatures of the Creator endowed with certain inalienable rights, that because of the equality of men the basis of government is the consent of the governed, and the end of government is the protection of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness (or, if you prefer John Locke’s formulation, property).

In the fight to pass the Constitution, The Federalist argued that America possessed a common culture: English language, Protestant Christianity, common holidays, English common law, an admiration and adherence to the Western heritage, and devotion to republican principles. This distinctly American culture provided common ground and has proven adept at welcoming and assimilating immigrants from many different lands. Because of all the cultural elements they held in common, they were able to form a “more perfect union.”

Illegal immigration ignores the danger of admitting illegals with no familiarity with the principles of republican government and who have had no experience with self-government. This has also imposed a severe strain upon public schools that struggle to teach basic skills (never mind the sort of civic education necessary for living in a self-governing republic), and yet must spend vast resources trying to teach English to the children of illegal aliens.

Fourth, large numbers of illegal aliens who are only competent to perform low-wage work creates unfair competition for American citizens who would happily work those jobs. The system has encouraged the replacement of native workers with immigrants, both legal and illegal, and therefore failed natives who could perform these jobs. The Trump Administration’s merit-based immigration proposal very simply would be a return to justice and social peace.

Photo Credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

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About Zachary D. Rogers

Zachary Rogers is a graduate of UCCS, Hillsdale College, and the John Jay Institute. Additionally, he is a former intern of the Independence Institute, Family Research Council, and the Claremont Institute. He resides in Arkansas.