"Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government." Thomas Jefferson

Coexisting After the Gun and Immigration Debates

Melanie Sturm | @ThinkAgainUSA Read Comments - 4
Publish Date: 
Thu, 04/25/2013


In his 1831 book celebrating America, Alexis de Tocqueville warned, “In democratic societies, there exists an urge to do something even when the goal is not precise, a sort of permanent fever that turns to innovations…[which] are always costly.”


After a spate of traumatic tragedies that impact the gun and immigration debates, feverish politicians are rushing to innovate complex legislation without thoroughly and publicly examining the underlying problems and before “We the People” consent to their solutions. Lawmakers should Think Again considering only four percent of Americans currently “mention guns or immigration as the most important problems facing the nation,” according to Gallup. Americans’ top concerns are the economy, jobs and dissatisfaction with the way government works.


If irony is the hygiene of the mind, much about the Boston Marathon Massacre is clarifying, though boggling. Intent on massacring Bostonians on Patriots Day, the immigrant Brothers Tsarnaev received state welfare benefits funded by taxpayers they killed and maimed. Then they murdered a police officer en route to hijacking a car with a “Coexist” bumper sticker. Perhaps inspired by “Coexist” sentimentality, the fugitive sociopaths allowed the car’s owner to live “because he wasn’t American,” assuring their capture and “non-coexistence” in the American community they shunned.


Sadly, despite new laws since 9/11 and $50 billion spent annually on robust security precautions, there is little a free and open society can do to prevent Boston-style bombings or public mass shootings by law-breakers. While there are crime-prevention measures that could deter public attacks, civil libertarians and constitutionalists claim they encroach on Americans’ constitutionally protected natural rights to self-defense, due process and free speech. 


The ACLU opposes measures that infringe on the First Amendment rights of violent video-game makers and background checks that could lead to the institutionalization of the mentally impaired and the infringement of their privacy rights; psychiatrists resist reporting patients fearing it would deter treatment-seekers; and the NRA opposes measures that inhibit the rights of responsible, law-abiding citizens -- often victims of gun or domestic violence -- to protect their person, family and property. They believe the best response to a criminal trying to kill civilians is a civilian equipped to deter him.


These are complex and challenging issues entailing important security versus liberty tradeoffs. Americans need and deserve thoughtful and informed deliberations to derive consensus-driven solutions, not hyper-partisan demagoguery that casts opponents as uncaring and evil. If politicians truly want to prevent the next Newtown, why do they push legislation that, by their own admission, fails this test -- unless they want to sow discord for political gain? If public safety were their paramount concern, why can’t they legislate enhanced school security measures, like those enacted in airplanes after 9/11?


The irony is that while politicians insist on expanded law enforcement capabilities to protect society from gun-wielding law-breakers, they resist enforcing immigration laws, as if we’re not a sovereign nation of laws and legal immigrants -- many with relatives who suffered tragic fates after being denied entry.


Imagine treating gun-law violators, insider-traders or thieves with the same kit gloves we treat those who violate our immigration laws. Would we care that they “live in the shadows” fearful their lawlessness might be exposed? Would we permit “city-sanctuaries” that protect law-breakers from law enforcement, or insist private employers be law-enforcers?


The truth is our immigration system is broken. Those we most want – the millions of law-abiders and entrepreneurial American Dreamers who, like our forefathers, want to come to America to adopt our way-of-life -- must wait years to earn an American visa. Meanwhile, according to official US immigration data since 1970, significantly larger percentages of immigrants possess lower skill levels, live in poverty and rely on public assistance, as compared to non-immigrant Americans. Consequently, low-skilled Americans suffer $402 billion in wage losses annually, according to Harvard economist George Borjas, while taxpayers bear the cost of welfare benefits.


These statistics belie the fact that, as the most multi-ethic nation on earth, America possesses unique cultural and economic strengths that underlie our unity and prosperity.  Unfortunately, for the last 50 years, we’ve migrated away from the secret sauce that accounts for our success -- “e pluribus unum” (out of many one) -- toward a “separate but equal” hyphenated Americanism. As the Tsarnaev brothers demonstrate, it’s not in America’s interest to import foreigners who remain foreign and lost outsiders.  


Tocqueville said “The greatness of America lies not in being more enlightened than any other nation, but rather in her ability to repair her faults.” If we’re to avoid the “Balkanization” that triggers disaffection and ethic strife elsewhere, and preserve the vitality that’s historically attracted new Americans, we must resume acculturating immigrants to American values so they can integrate into American society.


Think Again – For this definition of “coexist” to prevail in America, our politicians must coexist better.



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I favor gun control and

I favor gun control and immigration reform, but I can't disagree with anything you wrote. Not sure where you stand, but thanks for helping me consider other important factors in these controversial debates!

Great article! I wish you had

Great article! I wish you had gone a bit farther and suggested some of the reforms which would have actually helped fix the problem. Here are a few that come to mind: limit "family reunification" (the largest category of legal immigrants) so that it only applies to spouse and minor childeren. The current system leads to an endless chain of parents, grandparents, siblings and cousins who each can start their own chain. This gets us a lot of people we would not choose and many of whom taxpayers have to support. Fix legal immigration so that it resembles the point systems that are being used in Australia and Canada. Make E-verify mandatory and beef up the punishments for hiring illegal workers. Make guestworkers more expensive then American workers with a special tax that compensates communities and the nation for the cost of hosting these guests. Market economics says the last marginal input (guest worker) should cost more and not less than the earlier inputs (Americans). The current guestworker system is essentially a cheap labor subsidy that incentivizes replacing Americans with guestworkers.

I think you will find this to

I think you will find this to be quite interesting...

Congressional immigration debate signals big shift
By CRISTINA SILVA | Associated Press

LISTED BELOW are several of the arguments that have been used by misguided people to try and justify illegal immigration. Next to each is the reason why that argument has no merit.

1) They are an economic necessity - Not true. The idea that a bunch of desperately poor, uneducated, unskilled, non-English speaking foreigners are an economic necessity is ludicrous. In fact, when you compare cost vs. benefit, it is obvious that they are not only NOT a necessity, they are not even an asset. Rather, they are a liability and a huge one at that.

2) They do work Americans won’t do - Not true. They do work Americans won’t do for $7 an hour (especially if Americans can collect welfare and unemployment instead). Of course, if you got rid of the illegals, the jobs wouldn’t pay $7 an hour. The people who wanted the work done would have to pay a wage that was attractive enough to get Americans to do the work. And it might even be enough to get Americans off the unemployment and welfare dole and back into the taxpaying workforce!

3) We benefit from all that “cheap” labor - This is nonsense. The only people who benefit from the cheap labor are the unscrupulous people who hire illegal immigrants. Taxpayers are left holding the bag. Ultimately, it is they who must pay to support all the Americans who have been put out of work by illegals and must also provide billions of dollars in services and benefits to the illegals themselves.

4) They are just trying to make better lives - Aren’t we all? The difference is that most of us understand that we DO NOT have a right to acquire by illegal means those things that we find difficult to acquire by legal means. And we certainly don’t have the right to do it in a foreign country.

5) It is impossible to round up and deport the illegals - We don’t have to. All we have to do is remove the incentives that brought them here in the first place. No jobs. No housing. No taxpayer financed services or benefits (including education). Once we remove the incentives that brought them here, they will leave on their own.

6) Immigration control is racist / xenophobic - This is just another play of the race card by people who have no other cards to play. Immigration control is the world-wide status quo. There is nothing racist about it. Furthermore, the USA welcomes LEGAL immigrants of all races and ethnicities from all over the world who have gone through the legal immigration process. This is not just a bad argument, it is an attempt to create racial hatred and division.

7) We are a nation of immigrants - This is the “BIG LIE”. The vast majority of Americans are native-born. I am not an immigrant. Nor were my parents. Nor were my grandparents. We are a nation that has, historically, allowed and even encouraged LEGAL immigration. And we continue to do so. The issue at hand is illegal immigration, which has nothing to do with legal immigration.

8) They are people. We must treat them humanely - Yes & yes. But lets not pretend like they are victims who were dragged here kicking and screaming against their will. Nothing could be further from the truth. They came of their own free will and for their own benefit and they broke the law to do it. PEOPLE SHOULD NOT BE REWARDED FOR BREAKING LAWS AND COMMITTING CRIMES. SENDING THEM HOME IS THE RIGHT THING TO DO. There is nothing “draconian” or “mean-spirited” about it.

9) It is wrong to break up families- Yes. Unfortunately, families are often broken up by criminal activity. If you don’t believe it, just drop by any prison or jail on visiting day. We can’t keep families together if some family members choose to participate in criminal activity.

10) They work & contribute to our society - So do I. And if I break the law and commit crimes, I can expect to pay a penalty of some kind. Anything from a small fine to the death penalty. I do not receive a reward. WHY SHOULD WE TREAT FOREIGN CRIMINALS BETTER THAN OUR OWN CITIZENS?

Wow. Very powerful article.

Wow. Very powerful article. It really cuts to the heart of these issues like no other article or debate I've seen. I think this article is going to get some very broad exposure.

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