Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Illegal Still Means Breaking the Law

Illegal Still Means Breaking the Law
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
December 10, 2014

To paraphrase Ronald Reagan, here we go again, regarding this most divisive issue of illegal immigration. What part of illegal do people not understand?

Within a three day span, from December 7-9, one column and several letters to the editor of such myopic shortsightedness appeared in The Indianapolis Star it has become painfully obvious people do not understand the concept of the rule of law.

One does not need a law degree to understand that when a person who is not legally entitled to take up residency in the United States of America crosses the border without permission, that person has committed a crime – period. Whether such people are called illegal immigrants, undocumented aliens, illegal aliens, what they cannot be called is American.

It is completely disingenuous to read Matthew Tully’s December 7 column “Immigration has made Indy a more vibrant city,” for the reader could assume the text will be about those upstanding folks who legally became residents and citizens of Indianapolis. But we all know what happens when one assumes.

Legal immigration, yes; illegal immigration, no way Jose. Why are lawbreakers rewarded, when those still standing in line to do the right thing are falling farther and farther behind?

Tully quoted Terri Morris Downs, head of the nonprofit Immigrant Welcome Center, as saying, “Let’s pretend there’s an imaginary line… Would you as a parent be willing to cross that line to make sure your kids were being fed and that your family was being cared for? Would you break that law and cross that line, that imaginary line, to make sure your kids would be safe and have a chance at a decent life? I think most people would.”

While Downs naturally is tugging at the heartstrings to make her point, she forgets that borders are not imaginary lines. Granted they are lines that may not be terribly visible, but geo-political lines are legitimately organized. Then, she admits the crossing of that line is an illegal act – “would you break that law…”

Tully then correctly observes that the “current immigration system is a politically charged mess…,” but fails to note this is because of the unwillingness to differentiate between legal and illegal, as well as both major political parties using this broken system to its own advantage.  Liberals and Democrats support amnesty and a path to citizenship in an effort to induce support of Hispanic voters, yet not realizing that Hispanics are not a monolithic community. Republicans and conservatives turn a blind eye to this crisis because they seek support of businesses who hire illegals for cheap labor.

As for amnesty itself, one Indy Star letter writer, Robert W. Hammerle of Indianapolis, opined that “illegal immigrants deserve amnesty.” No, they don’t – they have broken the law. Not only do they not deserve amnesty, they do not deserve any of the trappings that come with actual citizenship or even legal residency. Hammerle went so far as to compare today’s illegals with the “Southern rebels and their leaders like Gen. Robert E. Lee and James Longstreet [who] were given amnesty by the U.S. government. Even though they tried to destroy the U.S. Constitution while killing hundreds of thousands of fellow American citizens, they were forgiven and allowed to move on with their lives.”

Not so fast, Mr. Hammerle. Certain amnesties were offered but with stipulations attached, and those amnesties were presented in stages.

The Confiscation Act of 1862 authorized the president of the United States to pardon anyone involved in the rebellion. The Amnesty Proclamation of December 8, 1863, offered pardons to those who had not held a Confederate civil office, had not mistreated Union prisoners, and would sign an oath of allegiance.

On May 29, 1865, President Andrew Johnson provided for amnesty and the return of property to those who would take an oath of allegiance. However, former Confederate government officials, officers with the rank of colonel and above from the Confederate army or lieutenant and above from the Confederate navy, and people owning more than $20,000 worth of property had to apply for individual pardons.

On Christmas Day 1868, Johnson granted an unconditional pardon to all Civil War participants except high-ranking military and civil officials.”

Finally, “in May 1872 the Congressional Amnesty Act gave the right to hold office again to almost all Southern leaders who had been excluded from public office by the 14th Amendment.” (

But Section 3 of the 14th Amendment did take seriously the acts committed by the rebel confederates. “No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as a executive or judicial office of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or give aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House remove such disability.”

Clearly the behavior of the southerners was looked upon with a dim view by the federal government of the Union and amnesty was not awarded lightly or with a cavalier attitude – requiring an oath of allegiance – something not expected of the illegal aliens in the US today. In fact illegals in this country are not legally required to learn or speak English, let alone take any kind of oath of allegiance. And quite frankly, Mr. Hammerle, two wrongs do not a right make.

It is this paucity of expectations that remands this issue back to Tully’s column where he suggests bringing the illegals out of the shadows will move them to become “more civically engaged.” Being civically engaged starts with being law-abiding, something that has eluded the illegals from their first step on to American soil. Tully also recommends treating illegals not “as unwanted outsiders,” but with compassion. That begs the question: Would a rational person have compassion for someone breaking into their home? Should that miscreant be given food stamps, medical attention, public schooling for the children, and in-state tuition rates at the local state school at the cost to the homeowner? No, because breaking the law is still breaking the law.

Even Barack Obama should understand the above concept, yet he announced an executive order to protect nearly five million illegal aliens from potential deportation. As a result of that misguided and illegal decision, 14 states, including Indiana have enjoined in a lawsuit against the federal government fighting the Obama edict.

Geoffrey Heeren, the director of the Immigration Clinic with Valparaiso University Law School checked in on December 9 with his Indy Star letter noting the state of Indiana was wrong to participate in this lawsuit. Heeren said the suit was “misguided” to suggest Obama “usurped Congress’ power to write immigration law.” That is exactly what Obama did and it is wrong, as writing legislation is in fact the job of the Congress, as per the US Constitution.

Heeren suggested that Obama has not violated his constitutional duty as chief executive to enforce the laws pertaining to immigration simply because the amount of money provided by Congress has been exhausted. Obama has a responsibility to enforce the laws passed by Congress and enacted by the president. If the there is a dearth of funding, he must prioritize, which Heeren claims Obama is doing by not deporting certain illegals, yet he is still complicit in violating the law by allowing for an extension of their illegal acts simply by allowing them to remain in the United States.

Such funding priorities must commence at the borders – both southern and northern – stop people from crossing into the United States illegally before they become a fiscal and legal problem. This should be a nondiscriminatory policy instead of the one unofficially adopted by so-called lawmakers and Obama to allow for “more sympathetic” groups – families, people who heretofore have committed no crimes until invading the United States, and those seeking honest work instead of the thugs, drug dealers, killers, rapists, and other miscreants whose presence in this country would have a deleterious effect on society. The easy answer is, to use a Western-themed movie concept, to “head them off at the pass.”

But Heeren also seems to miss the point when he supports Obama’s executive order calling the beneficiaries “law-abiding,” when the first act they committed in this country was to break the law simply by crossing the border.

And it would seem to run contrary to the United States Constitution for Obama to make law and to attempt to supersede the 10th Amendment. “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” Nowhere does it say such rights can be obfuscated and absconded with by Obama or any other occupant of the White House.

Those who are in the United States illegally are still breaking the law and they continue to have an adverse effect on the economy, as well as on the potential prosperity in their own lives living under the radar or in the shadows. The United States is a proud nation of immigrants – legal immigrants. It is important to discern legal from illegal, act in a less emotional tenor, and save this nation from itself before there is no nation left to save.

Sanford D. Horn is a writer and educator living in Westfield, IN.


  1. I disagree completely with this outlook. When the law is sick and does not render the possibility of justice, then it is the law that needs to be changed. Everyone agreed reform was necessary because the law itself is sick in every way imaginable and has nothing to do at all, not one little bit, based on the nation being built by "legal immigrants". It is corrupt and discriminatory in every way possible. All of a sudden Obama, yet again, does a complete 180 and claims everyone has to "get straight" with the sick laws that make up immigration. A free society encourages openness and freedom of movement without prejudice...that does not exist at all today.

    1. Thanks for sharing your position, Bruce. Clearly we see things differently, but I appreciate hearing a well thought out case and opinion.
      I don't think the law is sick, I actually think it is not strict enough. We welcome LEGAL immigrants in this country and there are stages in place as how to become one.
      I also think by removing the incentives fewer people will sneak into the country and follow the rule of law.

  2. If an individual is willing to work and pay taxes, the doors should be wide open to him or her and their dependents no matter what level of capability or expertise. The laws should encourage this and support this simplified notion. America is, in part, falling apart because it supports and encourages its own citizens to take advantage of easy money while at the same time its employer class looks for ways to take advantage of employees instead of supporting them...for example the supreme court ruling just handed down that employees are not entitled to overtime pay while its workers get searched at the end of every shift...Amazon workers case ruling this week. Literally hundreds of issues like this amongst the government, the private sector and people's basic civil rights are being decided against an individual's inherent right to be free and respected. If you feel like society has gone backwards at an increasing speed over the past 50 years, it is because it has. If you get headaches because of the sick information that is being openly discovered and shared regarding basic rights being jeopardized, it is because people`s basic rights have been jeopardized and have not kept pace with the improved technology that envelopes day to day life.

    1. Once again, incentives for illegals to come here and take advantage of the underground system of wealth, a porous border, as well as a two-party system unwilling to REALLY stop illegal immigration (as noted in my column), continues to perpetuate this crisis.
      As for the court decision on the Amazon workers case, one I was following, they, IMHO, got it wrong. Look for a future column on that subject.

  3. You have to decide whether you are a person of inclusive principles or one of secular principles. Having experienced both, the latter here in Quebec, I think you know where I stand.