Saturday, April 01, 2006

"A Disrespectable Morass."

In response to Sean's comment a couple of posts below about the immigration situation, please see Daniel Henniger's column in the WSJ yesterday. Henninger states in part:

"Respect for the law" is part of the American bedrock. As Alexis de Tocqueville rightly said, each voter indirectly contributes to the making of our laws, and "however irksome an enactment may be, the citizen of the United States complies with it . . . because it originates in his own authority." That is the high-road argument against the illegal Mexicans.

Another 19th-century Frenchman close to the hearts of American conservatives is Frederic Bastiat, who had a further thought: "The surest way to have the laws respected is to make them respectable." Is our immigration law "respectable"? Need you ask?

America is a nation of laws by now so numerous that it provides jobs for more lawyers per capita than any nation on earth. They serve as legal lifeguards, saving mostly honest citizens from the legal system's capricious undertow. Medical malpractice and asbestos are two areas of law for which "respect" is about zero. A law's existence requires compliance, but not respect.

Some of the anti-Mexican sentiment likely reflects an embarrassed awareness of our degraded laws, and so it has chosen to draw a line in the legal sand over immigration. That won't change the fact that U.S. immigration law is a disrespectable morass.

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