'A Special Political Responsibility of Protection and Nourishment'

By Jerry Kammer and Jerry Kammer on April 6, 2011

Yesterday, CIS hosted a panel discussion on a new report about welfare use by immigrants, which was written by Steven Camarota, our director of research. (The video and transcript of the discussion will be posted next week.) The report has obvious significance in the national debate about immigration policy. The goal of social justice, which welfare programs seek to advance, requires an effort to limit eligibility for those programs. Below is an excerpt from a fascinating discussion of this and related issues. It was written by immigration scholar and Yale law professor Peter H. Schuck. It was published as a chapter in the 1985 book, Clamor at the Gates. The chapter is titled "Immigration Law and the Problem of Community":

Having ordained an activist welfare state that increasingly defines liberty in terms of positive, government-created legal entitlements to at least a minimum level of individual security and well-being, the nation cannot possibly extend these ever-expanding claims against itself to mankind in general. Instead, it must restrict its primary concerns to those for whom it has undertaken a special political responsibility of protection and nourishment, most particularly those who reside within its territorial jurisdiction. Even this more limited task becomes impossible if masses of destitute people, many ill-equipped to live and work in a postindustrial society, may acquire legally enforceable claims against it merely by reaching its borders.