According to reporting today, the DREAM Act is set to fail in the Senate due to a Republican filibuster. The DREAM Act would provide illegal immigrants brought to this country as children a path to legal residency and citizenship, provided certain conditions are met.
Putting aside questions of the economic contributions of immigrants, this bill is a matter of basic justice. These kids are not at fault for being here illegally. In many cases these kids have grown up in the country and are now illegal adults – “nonpersons” who are subject to sudden deportation to a country they’ve never known, who are excluded from universities and desirable employment. Rejecting the DREAM Act means abandoning them to a cruel fate not of their own making. Surely if conservatives believe what they spout about America as a land of opportunity and capitalism as a system in which people largely are rewarded for skill and hard work, they would see the sense in lessening the persecution of these unfortunates?
But no, rightist blogs are up in arms about the DREAM Act; they claim it is “amnesty,” that it will just encourage more illegal immigration. But of course, utilitarian considerations such as these can never override the demands of basic justice. Next time a conservative tries to chat you up about “natural rights,” ask his position on the DREAM Act to determine if he’s just talking codswallop.
6 thoughts on “The DREAM Act and Conservative Cruelty”
Gosh, one might almost suppose that the realization of basic justice wasn’t really what democratic political institutions are about! Could it be?
And certainly “we are the government” lefty types should be facing some cognitive dissonance here!
Well, we can always DREAM… oops, guess not.
I’ve recently urged folks on the left to begin reading the Federalist and AntiFederalist papers if they are going to make the claim that the Founders had no fear of government. Neither side was without fear of what the resulting government would do…, in fact the key discussion about the Bill of Rights itself was based on fear on both sides… one that the list was needed to protect those rights explicitly, the other that a list would only serve to limit to only those rights listed and losing others. And both fears have been validated as accurate.
Mill’s On Liberty has an excellent takedown of the “government is just us” fallacy. I find lefties generally like Mill, so it’s a good thing to try on them:
“The notion, that the people have no need to limit their power over themselves, might seem axiomatic, when popular government was a thing only dreamed about, or read of as having existed at some distant period of the past. Neither was that notion necessarily disturbed by such temporary aberrations as those of the French Revolution, the worst of which were the work of an usurping few, and which, in any case, belonged, not to the permanent working of popular institutions, but to a sudden and convulsive outbreak against monarchical and aristocratic despotism. In time, however, a democratic republic came to occupy a large portion of the earth’s surface, and made itself felt as one of the most powerful members of the community of nations; and elective and responsible government became subject to the observations and criticisms which wait upon a great existing fact. It was now perceived that such phrases as “self-government,” and “the power of the people over themselves,” do not express the true state of the case. The “people” who exercise the power, are not always the same people with those over whom it is exercised, and the “self-government” spoken of, is not the government of each by himself, but of each by all the rest. The will of the people, moreover, practically means, the will of the most numerous or the most active part of the people; the majority, or those who succeed in making themselves accepted as the majority; the people, consequently, may desire to oppress a part of their number; and precautions are as much needed against this, as against any other abuse of power. The limitation, therefore, of the power of government over individuals, loses none of its importance when the holders of power are regularly accountable to the community, that is, to the strongest party therein.”
I think Mill gets lots of things wrong, but I completely agree with you here: he is on this like green on grass.