Q. Are all illegal immigrants criminals?
A. Legally yes, and morally no.
The issue is complicated because a government can criminalize moral and just behavior.
In a just society, a criminal is defined as one who violates the rights of other individuals. The objective purpose of laws under laissez-faire capitalism is to explicitly delineate (in writing) what actions are violations of the unalienable individual rights, and how to deal with such violations. The operative word here is unalienable. Unalienable means that political rights are inherent in one’s nature as a rational being. The government is a means to protect those rights; it neither creates nor destroys those rights, though it can violate them, (See Ayn Rand’s essay “The Nature of Government.”) As such, it is the principle of individual rights that limits the scope of what government may properly criminalize. In sum, laws, government, and the very “rule of law,” are not ends in themselves, but are means to the protection of individual rights.
We are all criminals when the law makes living a crime (for a vivid illustration of this principle in great literature read Ayn Rand’s novel “We The Living.”) Rosa Parks, Frederick Douglas, and the signers of the Declaration of Independence were all “criminals” too. Good company to keep. A law that criminalizes actions that do not violate the rights of others is unjust and should be repealed.
Forcing productive people who are pro-American in spirit, to waste years of their lives and a good part of their fortune, to jump through a nearly impenetrable, subjective, and irrational maze of bureaucratic hoops, to migrate into a country to freely associate with other Americans who wish to deal with them, speaks volumes about the unjust nature of the present immigration regulations. Such is the state that represents America’s immigration and border controls. It makes it near impossible for productive, peace-loving immigrants to legally enter the country, while dismantling border security to make it easy for individuals who are objectively criminals (those who violate individual rights) to enter, both make a mockery of the rule of law. It punishes the good; and rewards the evil.
The essence of America is that it is a country born on a philosophy that recognizes the supreme political importance of individual rights (for details see her Declaration of Independence). Anti-border security is anti-American as it enables those who wish to violate the rights of others to enter the country; anti-immigration is anti-American as it prohibits individuals, whom Americans desire to live and associate with, from entering the country.
What is the solution? Secure the borders and shut down the gates to those who will violate the rights of others; while opening the immigration gates to productive, America-loving foreigners. The two are part and parcel of the same freedom-loving-American coin.
Let me close with a quote from the inscription at the base of the Statue of Liberty:
“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
It is time to restore that golden door to protect those who live in America and to fully open it to those who are yearning to breathe free.