Amnesty as a Civil Right: Part 2

By Stanley Renshon on October 18, 2013

A Reuters news article on the decision of California Governor Jerry Brown to sign a bill enabling illegal aliens to obtain state driver's licenses contained this sentence: "The law is part of a broader effort to expand immigrant rights in strongly Democratic California, where 2.6 million people - most of them Latino - lack legal status, according to a recent study by the University of Southern California." (Emphasis mine.)

That's right; you read the italics correctly - "immigrant rights". But, you reasonably ask: the article is about granting illegal aliens driver's licenses, so why is the phase "immigrant rights" used?

Question: Are immigrant rights and illegal immigrants' rights the same thing?

Answer: They will be if some people, groups, and officials have their way.

The first to test the waters with idea was Attorney General Eric Holder. Speaking at the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) Awards Gala on April 24, 2013, he had this to say about the rights of illegal aliens to be given amnesty:

As President Obama has made clear, it is long past time to reform our immigration system in a way that is fair; that guarantees that all are playing by the same rules; and that requires responsibility from everyone – both the people who are here in an undocumented status and those who hire them. Creating a pathway to earned citizenship for the 11 million unauthorized immigrants in this country is essential. The way we treat our friends and neighbors who are undocumented – by creating a mechanism for them to earn citizenship and move out of the shadows – transcends the issue of immigration status. This is a matter of civil and human rights. It is about who we are as a nation. And it goes to the core of our treasured American principle of equal opportunity. [emphasis added]

In Mr. Holder's view it is important to have an immigration system that is "fair," that guarantees that "all are playing by the same rules," and that creates a mechanism for "our friends and neighbors who are undocumented" by which they can "earn citizenship" because "this is a matter of civil and human rights."

Never before in American history has any public official, much less the country’s attorney general, said that illegal aliens not only have the right to amnestied legal status, but also to citizenship.

It is, when you think about it, an astounding assertion.

Mr. Holder asserts he is in favor of an immigration system that is "fair." Yet, his assertion of amnesty as a civil or humanitarian "right," would, were it to become official policy, give immigration law violators special standing to be held harmless, and even rewarded for breaking American immigration laws.

Moreover, such a system would hardly seem fair to Americans who expect the government to uphold the rule of law, not grant special dispensations from it or rewards and incentives for breaking it.

Next: Amnesty as a Civil Right: Part 3