Why immigration is regulated


photo by Amani Canada

Discussions pertaining to immigration are often some of the hardest discussions one can have in politics. Often times, both sides talk completely past the other. The conservative says she wants legal immigration, to which the progressive hears no immigration. When the progressive wants more immigration, or the legalization of people already here, the conservative hears open borders. The progressive argues that no human is illegal, in the process ignoring the rule of law that the conservative holds dear. The libertarian wonders why we still have the nation-state, to which both the progressive and conservative both respond by rolling their eyes. The progressive sides with the libertarian until the libertarian starts talking about getting rid of the welfare state. Then the conversation goes back: conservative versus progressive.

Immigration discussions are very, very detailed and contain plenty of potential topics for contention. A few of the more common examples include what to do with people who were brought here as children, the children born to illegal immigrants and what to do with people of age who are here illegally. Immigration is a topic that can be talked about all day. For the purpose of this article, I will specifically be discussing why immigration is regulated.

One of the most beloved progressive talking points is that no human is illegal. While this point sounds good when spoken, it doesn’t stand when investigated further. The catchphrase is a gross simplification of a very complex issue. Human beings are endowed by their creator with innate dignity and certain unalienable rights. However, the right to move into another nation is not absolute.

Immigration is a difficult topic to discuss largely due to the intersection of international relations and domestic politics. While the average citizen will understand the politics of their own country, most citizens don’t have a vast knowledge of international relations or the situations in other countries that are causing people to want to leave their home country for a new life somewhere else. Understandably, due to the tolerant culture of the United States, our strong democratic history and our economy, many people want to move to the U.S. for a better life. However, just because you want something does not mean you should get it.

As a sovereign country, the U.S. has a responsibility first and foremost to its citizens in the same way that every sovereign country should be responsible for its citizens. Principally among what a government is to provide is rule of law and security. In part, this means that the government should know who is in their country. This is why governments have requirements for applying to enter the country: so they can know who is in their country and who wants to be in their country. If you are not a citizen of a country and don’t apply for the privilege of entering the country, you have no right to be in the country. Simply, you were not granted that right. Thus you are committing a crime. It would be similar to entering a house that isn’t yours.

People just like your mother and father have a responsibility to control who comes into the house. We can discuss all day how many people should be allowed into the United States; that is an argument that will likely never end. But at the end of the day, for the sake of the safety and security of the country’s residents “” citizens and foreign nationals alike “” a nation has to be able to subject the right to immigrate to reasonable requirements. This isn’t saying that the rest of the world is filled to the brim with dangerous people. It is simply saying that we need to make sure that these people are safe before we let them in. Just like your parents asking you who is coming over.

Immigration discussions are always going to be complex and filled with an innumerable amount of nuances and special exceptions. We can talk for hours about what responsibility, if any, wealthy nations have to citizens of poorer countries, and how many people, based on what requirements, countries should allow to immigrate. However, it is much easier to have a discussion when you understand where the other side is coming from. Before we can have any of those conversations about the nuances of policy and legislation, we need to at least start by defining what we are actually talking about and why. Until that happens, we will just be talking in circles. If we don’t agree that countries have the right to place some restrictions on immigration, no other discussion about the issue will be fruitful at all.

Aside from politics, learn to talk to people instead of past them. Talking past someone is a waste of time for both of you. When you decide to talk past someone, you are losing out of the opportunity to see the world through the other person’s point of view. Who knows? Maybe by talking to someone of the opposing view you will see the world with new eyes. Maybe you will realize why you are right, or possibly where you are wrong. Most importantly: Talk to people and at least be on speaking terms with people whom you disagree with.