Sunday, April 13, 2008

"Undocumented" Immigrants and the Rule of Law

In a classic statement of common sense, Judge Gary Lumpkin of the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals (an ex-Marine and VietNam Veteran) quipped the following:

Too many factions in our society have tried to dilute the facts of the status of illegal immigrants by the semantic labeling of their unlawful entry and presence in our country as merely “undocumented aliens”. I guess those same factions would label someone caught trafficking in drugs as an “undocumented pharmacist”.

His statement, while certainly witty, also shows a high respect for the rule of law. The key word in that statement is illegal. Our courts and other government institutions cannot help but undermine the rule of law at large if they continue to look the other way while the country's population swells with people whose very presence is a violation of federal law and whose continued presence requires constant violation of both state and federal law. If our courts follow this path, I can see whole new movements developing: perhaps one for equal rights for undocumented possessers of property whom the unenlightened call thieves, and another for undocumented land owners whom the bigoted call trespassers.

I learned this week that my alma mater, the University of Tulsa College of Law, will be hiring an immigration lawyer who will in all likelihood be tasked with helping illegal immigrants in the same way that the university has in the past assisted the poor, the elderly and Native Americans.

I can't help but wonder if they will soon be granting degrees to the hundreds of illegal aliens who have been working on campus doing everything from building their new buildings to mowing the lawns and feeding the student body. Following the "undocumented worker" logic they should. After all, the undocumented workers are people. Many of them are probably wonderful people. And, by whatever means, legal or not, they have been on campus. It is only the hard-heartedness and backward thinking of some at the university administration that prevents these deserving unfortunates from attending classes, taking tests and earning a degree. Surely, these worthy men and women, who in all likelihood served the University at a far lower wage than a greedy "documented" worker would accept, who have literally built the university with their bare hands, maintained it with their sweat and blood and fed its students with their loving care should be given the same privileges as the children of the wealthy who attend TU.

BUT, the University would quickly argue, we have admission standards and attendance requirements and academic qualifications that have to be met. Guess what TU, so does the United States of America. They are called laws. BUT, TU would continue, we are a private institution. People who attend our university have to pay their tuition to earn the right to be here. Again, guess what TU, so do legal American citizens. They are called taxes and in my time it was also called the draft. So, if TU wants to be truly consistent in their message, I expect to see them granting degrees to all "undocumented students" who have managed to arrive at and spend time on their campus by whatever means .... regardless of their legal and academic status.

P.S. Dear reader, don't hold your breath.


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