Anti People

The Constitution of the United States of America is based on the belief that what individuals do is good, unless and until it is proved to have injured or insulted someone else. Also, the Constitution directs the agents of government to provide for the general welfare, which includes individual human rights. Of course, before the ink was even dry on the original document, the human rights of some persons were legally discounted or abrogated. People who had been kidnapped and brought to the Americas in chains were relegated to an inferior status by law. In other words, we have a long history here in the USA of using the law to deny humans their rights.

Most recently it has been the right to perambulate that’s been increasingly restricted, despite the fact that the Constitution is quite clear that the rights of all persons, “within the jurisdiction of the United States,” regardless of citizenship and/or national origin are to be protected. All of a sudden, after centuries of soliciting immigrants from all over the globe, it seems more important to protect the borders of the nation, really an imaginary boundary, than the people who come here for longer or shorter periods. So, the Congress has passed laws to prevent people, who aren’t even here yet, from coming to the United States, if they don’t have enough money to pay for all their necessities, and, not surprisingly, the exclusion of poor people because they might get a job (a good thing) and work, instead of stealing what they need, has been hard to enforce.

Some get picked up and sent back where they came from. That’s the job of ICE, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, a division of the Department of Homeland Security (the homeland’s security is also a higher priority than people’s rights), despite the Constitution’s clear commitment to the person. So, in an effort to reach a somewhat more reasonable strategy than the Congress blanket ban on “illegal immigrants,” as if migration weren’t a basic human right, the President determined that children who had not only done no wrong, but were brought here at someone else’s behest, not unlike the slaves of old, should not be penalized for the sins of their fathers, so to speak, and should be allowed to stay as long as their behavior is good. And President Obama issued a directive to the Department of Homeland Security to that effect, arguing that resources are better spent dealing with real criminals, than ejecting otherwise law-abiding youth.

John Boozman
Senator John Boozman, Arkansas

To this directive, nine personnel employed by ICE objected and have filed a lawsuit, with the support of the junior Senator from Arkansas, John Boozman, challenging the authority of the President of the United States. That’s insubordination. But, as everyone knows, anyone can file a lawsuit. The rationale in the present case?

We are a nation of laws but the President is stepping beyond his authority by determining what laws must be enforced. Americans deserve immigration reform, secure borders and improved workplace verification to hold employers accountable for hiring illegal workers. This requires Congressional approval and I am committed to formulating comprehensive immigration reform without rewarding lawbreakers,” Boozman said.

Somehow these agents of government have missed that it is proper for subordinates to challenge the authority of their superiors. If they disagree, their option is to resign and then rally other citizens to their support. However, it’s not really a surprise that they don’t know that. After all, not only is a United States Senator backing them up, but it’s become increasingly clear that a goodly number of our lawmakers are insubordinate themselves. That the people govern and agents are employed to do what they are told has seemingly not registered with people accustomed to writing laws to suit their whim, rather than serve the interests of justice.

As I noted at the start, this is not new. The law has long been used to subordinate and deprive people of their rights. Sometimes it seems every step forward is followed by a step back. After all, all adult citizens got the right to vote and then military personnel were denied to speak about their associations without suffering retaliation. The legality of segregation on the basis of racial characteristics in public facilities and education was ended, only to be followed by the segregation of housing and medical services on the basis of age. Categorical separation keeps rearing its head and the mania for citizenship documentation is just the latest.

What good is the law, if we can’t use it to exclude people we don’t like? What good is the law if it doesn’t make people toe the line? That the law isn’t supposed to go into effect until after someone’s committed a crime (just being anywhere on earth is not a criminal act) is such an inconvenience! Nevertheless, that’s the genius of the Constitution of the United States and it’s what people all around the globe are coming to appreciate, despite the fact that we don’t always live up to it.

Image: from (fair use).

Monica Smith

Monica Smith writes Hannah's Blog. Born in Germany, she came to the United States as a child, living first in California, then after an interval in Chile, in New York. Married to a retired professor at the University of Florida, where she lived for 17 years, she moved to St. Simons Island, Georgia, in 1993 and now divides her time between Georgia and New Hampshire. (New Hampshire, she says, is always interesting during a presidential election.) She and her husband have three children and five grandchildren. Ms. Smith says she "learned long ago that I am not a good team player when I got hired at the Library of Congress, fresh out of college with a degree in political science and proficiency in four foreign languages, to 'edit' library cards and informed my supervisor that if she was going to insist I punch the clock exactly on time, my productivity was going to fall from being the highest to being the same as everyone else's. The supervisor opted to assign me to another building where there was no time-clock. After I had the first of our three children, I decided a paycheck wasn't worth the hassle."