Walter E. Williams is a professor at George Mason University. I am not overly familiar with Williams’ work, but some others have brought it to my attention recently as a result of Williams’ support for the Arizona Law against illegal immigration. I presume that Williams backs the law, since his most recent essay argues that we should “start strict enforcement of immigration law, as Arizona has begun.”
In his essay, Williams also lays out arguments regarding why the popular position on illegal immigration, one that supports amnesty, might be a bit of an illogical contradiction. In fact, Williams’ point of view reflects the sentiment of many African Americans in disagreement with black leadership on the issue.
The professor starts by asking Libertarians – and those who think that illegal immigrants should receive amnesty – whether or not everyone on earth has a right to live in the United States. Many of us would argue that it would be impossible for every person on earth to live in the United States, since our nation can’t sustain that many people. He then goes on to ask who gets to decide which people should live here. Obviously, the answer would be us, U.S. citizens.
Williams goes on to ask what the conditions for living in the United States should be and who has the right to ignore those conditions. Finally, there is the question of how we should respond when those conditions are ignored. Williams had this to say:
“When crimes are committed, what should be done? Some people recommend amnesia, which turns out to be the root word for amnesty. But surely they don’t propose it as a general response to crime where criminals confess their crime, pay some fine and apply to have their crimes overlooked. Amnesty supporters probably wish amnesty to apply to only illegal immigrants. That being the case, one wonders whether they wish it to apply to illegals past, present and future, regardless of race, ethnicity or country of origin.”
Translation of Williams’ argument: Not everyone can live in the United States, and we must set standards for who lives here and how. If people ignore those standards, there should be a penalty. By expecting amnesty for the 10- to- 20-million illegal immigrants currently living in America, we are ignoring the standards and the penalties altogether.