Welcome to America. Don’t get too Comfortable. Posted by: Dale Franks
on Thursday, August 11, 2005
Steve Chapman is looking askance at the proposed anti-terror laws that Tony Blair's Labour government is pushing. The new laws would deport from Britain any non-citizen who justifies or supports the use of terror to accomplish political goals.
No one really wants to fault Tony Blair as he strives to address the threat of homegrown Islamic terrorism. After one round of deadly bombings and a second round of attempted ones just two weeks apart, everyone knows that his fears are not exactly a hallucination. In this case, most people in the United States as well as Britain would prefer the prime minister went too far rather than not far enough.
In a statement last week, he praised his people's "tolerance and good nature," but said they feel "a determination that this very tolerance and good nature should not be abused by a small but fanatical minority." He proceeded to unveil a plan to expel foreign nationals, such as militant Muslim clerics, who exhibit sympathy for terrorism.
His plan would mandate deportation for any noncitizen who is guilty of "fostering hatred" or "justifying or validating . . . violence" or "glorifying terrorism." For those who have come from abroad, Blair declared, "staying here carries with it a duty. That duty is to share and support the values that sustain the British way of life."
Left unexplained is why that duty should apply only to foreign nationals. Shouldn't native-born Britons have an even greater obligation not to criticize or reject such values? Why should anyone be allowed to question the common ideals of the British nation?
The reason, of course, is that unfettered debate is the foundation of a free society and one of the proudest achievements of British democracy. If open expression by Britons serves a vital function—informing and stimulating thought—why doesn't open expression by immigrants and foreign visitors advance that purpose as well?
Chapman asks why foreigners should be singled out for special attention, when citizens can espouse all sorts of wacky ideas. Uh, well, the obvious answer is that they are foreigners. Chapman is apparently worried that we'll single out foreigners for something similar over here, so he argues:
One of the cardinal principles of law in this country is that constitutional rights are the property not just of American citizens, but of anyone who arrives here. A resident alien or a visitor can't be punished for saying things the rest of us are allowed to say.
That's just a non sequitur. Foreigners reside here at our sufferance. And, while we certainly respect their Constitutional rights while they are here, we are under no obligation to allow them to remain. Long-time US resident Lucky Luciano may have been quite helpful to the US army during the invasion of Sicily in WWII, but we deported him anyway, judging that his pre-war activities outweighed the service he gave in smoothing our entry into Sicily. So, Luciano got put on the boat, and he lived out the remainder of his life in Pastastan, where he belonged.
Moreover, deportation is not a punishment. I mean, it might seem that way to the individual who is being deported back to the foreign hellhole from whence he originally came, but deportation is not a criminal procedure, nor a punishment, and it is an unquestioned power of government to expel seedy foreigners at discretion. Chapman argues implicitly that once you get here, we have no right to ask you to leave. That's simply not true, has never been true, and is disingenuous to suggest that the Constitution demands otherwise.
Even more disingenuous is the argument Chapman uses to buttress his point:
Brits may think we can hold to that policy only because we're not under attack. But we held to it even when we faced the biggest threat ever. During World War II, the government tried to strip the citizenship of a German immigrant who preached Nazism while we were fighting Hitler. But the Supreme Court said it could not expel him for expressing "sinister-sounding views that native-born citizens utter with impunity."
Well, sorry, but that's a non sequitur, too. The case to which Mr. Chapman refers is Baumgartner v. US, 322 US 665 (1944). First and foremost, Baumgartner was a citizen of the United States, not merely a resident alien. The Supreme Court declined to strip him of his citizenship, a point which is quite different that the one Mr. Chapman is trying to make about "immigrants". In point of fact, Mr. Baumgartner was no longer an immigrant, he was a citizen of the United States of America.
So, too, was, the petitioner in Knauer v US, 328 U.S. 654 (1946), a naturalized German citizen who was, in fact, stripped of his naturalized citizenship. The court found he had been a Nazi SOB before he was naturalized, and was a Nazi SOB afterwards, thereby making his oath of allegiance fraudulent. As Justice Frankfurter wrote:
[W]hen an alien takes the oath with reservations or does not in good faith forswear loyalty and allegiance to the old country, the decree of naturalization is obtained by deceit. The proceeding itself is then founded on fraud. A fraud is perpetrated on the naturalization court...We have no doubt of the power of Congress to provide for denaturalization on the grounds of fraud. The Constitution grants Congress power 'To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization.' Article I, Section 8. The power of denaturalization comes from that provision and the 'necessary and proper' Clause in Article I, Section 8.
So Mr. Chapman's use of Baumgartner is just wrong. The only reason Mr. Baumgartner won was because the Court found that it couldn't be proved that he was a Nazi SOB when he forswore allegiance to Germany—an act he took prior to Hitler's assumption of power in that benighted land, therefore, it couldn't be proved that he had fraudulently obtained his naturalization. Mr. Baumgartner's right to free speech didn't enter into it, even though, later, he did become a near-treasonous Nazi SOB, and apparently, he'd been an arrogant Kraut jerk for some time prior to his naturalization. What was not at question in Baumgartner was whether we could, in fact, strip him of his naturalized citizenship status, and send him packing off back to Fritzland if we so wished. We could do so quite readily, and in the case of that Nazi SOB, Knauer, we did.
The fact that the Court opined that we couldn't punish a naturalized citizen for doing something that a native-born citizen can do with impunity does not, in any way, have any bearing on whether or not we can boot out resident aliens for saying things we don't like. Indeed, as Knauer proves, it doesn't even have any bearing on whether or not we can strip you of your naturalized citizenship.
We can boot out resident aliens for poor dental work if we want, although, we wouldn't, because then we couldn't keep any Brits around, and, frankly, we like to pal around with them. If you are resident alien, and you start spouting of with that "America-is-the-Great-Satan-and-her-streets-should-run-red-with-infidel-blood!" crap, then you probably shouldn't be surprised find yourself hastily pulled out of your air-conditioned mosque in LA, and standing alone and confused in a dusty ramshackle airport terminal in Kaplokistan 24 hours later.
The bottom line is that, if you are a foreigner, and if you intend to reside in this country, then those of us who are already here have a perfect right to boot you out the moment you displease us. Allowing you into the US is a privilege we graciously extend to you because we're such hoopy froods.
You see, you don’t really understand. Everyone has a right to live here. We’ve robbed the rest of the world of its assets, so they have a right to come and live here and enjoy the fruits of their labor.
Besides, nations are soooooooo 20th Century. It’s a post-nationalist world, so the idea of discriminating between people simply based on the "accident of birth" is unfair.
And since dissent is, by definition, patriotic, in many ways these people are more patriotic than, say, the mercenaries that serve in our armed forces. After all, they’re merely joining up to get the benefits (although that’s really due to the fundamental injustices meted out by our capitalist system), whereas these folks are risking life and limb here in America to dissent, to protest, to raise alternative points of view, and to call attention to the injustices that are at the base of why they hate us to begin with.
Lurking Observer does bring up a good point: where does the notion of a right of immigration come from? No nation in the world recognizes such a right. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights doesn’t include a right of immigration. So where?
I’m actually not very clear on why, exactly, people who are not citizens (or are credentialed resident aliens on the way to becoming citizens) get Constitutional rights.
They still bear alliegance to their home country and not this one. Why would we extend to them the protections we give those do who bear alliegance to the US by dint of citizenship when we have no way of expecting that courtesy to flow the other way?
More importantly, those rights are a very important and powerful benefit you gain as a citizen. Why give them away so cheaply to anyone who so much as sets foot on American soil? Gaining those rights ought to be one of the major reasons one would want to become a citizen.