(article by Steve Serra)
In 2007, the City Council of Mission Viejo, California, passed an ordinance requiring its city contractors to use E-Verify (at the time called “Basic Pilot”) to greatly increase the likelihood that their newly-hired employees would be legally eligible to work in the United States. Other local jurisdictions followed, and by 2011 about 19 California cities and counties had adopted various forms of E-Verify requirements. But then, unfortunately for legal residents who are seeking employment and for the integrity of American law, the State Legislature banned all local E-Verify requirements. Mission Viejo’s City Council responded by passing Resolution 12-63 (here accompanied by its extensive Research Paper) on October 1, 2012, strongly defending both E-Verify and the bedrock American principle of the rule of law.
The Resolution describes, first, the theoretical structure, or principles, of the American conception of the rule of law, particularly as relevant to immigration. It then presents the basics of the rule of law argument in support of the pro-enforcement position on illegal immigration. The Resolution’s basic points on the rule of law and on immigration policy are stated in the first five of its nine pages. The last few pages focus on E-Verify.
Many Americans know instinctively that the rule of law is central to our system of free government and that granting amnesty or other non-constitutionally mandated benefits to illegal immigrants is damaging to the rule of law. But many of us do not know how to articulate that case in detail. Mission Viejo’s Resolution should be quite helpful in this regard. We can use it either to educate ourselves or to speak for us. It presents a clear and logical explanation of the rule of law principles on which our nation was founded, and shows why rewarding illegal immigrants with amnesty or other discretionary benefits is antithetical to those principles.
The Resolution shows that granting mass amnesty would change our political culture, elevating above the rule of law some values that have traditionally been of much lesser importance, and devaluing important rule of law principles, particularly the moral duties of civic obedience and government enforcement, inevitably making our nation less law-abiding and more corrupt than it would otherwise be, and weakening the foundations of our system of free government.
The Resolution alludes to what happened after 1986, the year President Reagan and the 99th Congress strayed from our rule of law principles, and suggests the folly of a second major amnesty–one that would be particularly deleterious for the message it would send abroad, since it would convert America’s 1986 policy of a “one-time legalization program” into a policy of periodic amnesties.
It is evident from the Resolution that our nation’s rule of law principles respect the realities of human nature, and that rewarding illegal behaviors encourages them, despite the institution of heightened obstacles–like stronger borders, and that punishing illegal behaviors deters and diminishes them.
We hear today from many defenders of immigration lawlessness that unauthorized aliens should be exempted from immigration law enforcement on the basis of their human dignity. The Resolution and Research Paper, by their restatement of our traditional principles of legality, remind us that human dignity is the foundational principle of the American republic, and that respect for human dignity is realized, rather, through adherence to the principles of the Founders’ ingeniously-structured system.
As Lincoln said, the Founders understood that “the whole great family of man” was “stamped with the Divine image and likeness,” and no one was “sent into the world to be trodden on, and degraded.” And with the Founders, Lincoln insisted on “reverence” for the law: “Let every American, every lover of liberty, every well wisher to his posterity, swear by the blood of the Revolution, never to violate in the least particular, the laws of the country; and never to tolerate their violation by others.”
Requiring people to obey the democratically-legislated rules of civilized society is in no way a denial of, or an affront to, human dignity. It is, rather, an affirmation of human dignity. It affirms our nature as rational creatures, our high place in the order of creation, which requires respect for legitimate governing authorities, our capacity for loving, moral virtue, and our capacity for self-government both as individuals in society and as cooperators in the political realm.
The Research Paper:
The Research Paper quotes the paragraphs of the Resolution and defends each of them using quotations from American statesmen and scholars. The paper reflects a great deal of original research on relevant American legal and political principles that is probably not available in any other single place.
A good way to sample the Research Paper is to pick one of the paragraphs of the Resolution and take a look at the corresponding section in the Research Paper to see how the supporting evidence is presented.
Uses of the Resolution and the Research Paper:
The Resolution and the Research Paper together are an excellent research resource on the rule of law and illegal immigration for anyone who wishes to advocate for immigration policies that are consistent with the Founders’ principles.
The Resolution calls for a recommitment to America’s rule of law ideal, and it calls upon local governments, in the many states where E-Verify requirements are permitted but do not yet exist on a statewide basis, to consider instituting E-Verify requirements for their employees, contractors, and/or business licensees. Citizens and other legal residents in those states could help diminish the illegal immigration problem by persuading their city and county lawmakers, or their state lawmakers, to study these documents and adopt E-Verify requirements.
Article By Steve Serra:
Steve Serra is a California attorney whose practice in recent years has been in the field of taxation. He resides in Mission Viejo, California. He has worked with Mission Viejo City Council members and city staff on the city’s E-Verify ordinance and related matters.
Photo credit: A line of legal immigrants wait outside the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights in Los Angeles offices Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2012. Hundreds of thousands of young illegal immigrants scrambled to get papers in order, as the U.S. started accepting applications to allow them to avoid deportation and get a work permit, but not a path to citizenship. President Barack Obama announced the program in June after pressure from Hispanic voters and others who said he hasn’t fulfilled a campaign promise to overhaul tangled U.S. immigration laws. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)