Carol Platt Liebau

In Eric Holder's America, there's no Constitutional right to gun ownership, no right to life for the unborn, no right of conscience for Catholics (or other people of faith) who disagree with elements of ObamaCare . . . but there is a "right to citizenship" as a matter of "civil and human rights" for illegal aliens.

Witness Holder's newest utterance, offered in a major-league suck up speech to the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund:

 

"Creating a pathway to earned citizenship for the 11 million unauthorized immigrants in this country is essential. The way we treat our friends and neighbors who are undocumented – by creating a mechanism for them to earn citizenship and move out of the shadows – transcends the issue of immigration status. This is a matter of civil and human rights. It is about who we are as a nation. And it goes to the core of our treasured American principle of equal opportunity." (emphasis added)

His invocation of "civil and human rights" as a justification for legislation offeriing a path to citizenship is entirely incoherent.  Here's why:

What are "civil rights"? They are defined as "the rights of individuals to receive equal treatment (and to be free from unfair treatment or 'discrimination') in a number of settings -- including education, employment, housing, and more -- and based on certain legally-protected characteristics."

So what confers a "civil right"? Well, the Constitution can.  But nowhere does it require the government to extend citizenship to anyone who wants it, based only on their presence in the country and/or their wish to get it.  Read it and see.  Obviously, if it had, that would mean every law restricting any immigration at all that we've had since our founding was unconstitutional and hence invalid.

So where else can we go to find a legal source for a "civil right"? "Most laws guaranteeing and regulating civil rights originate at the federal level, either through federal legislation, or through federal court decisions (such as those handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court)."  If a path to citizenship were already a "civil right" -- i.e. secured by federal legislation -- there'd be no need for legislation to establish it.  Likewise, if the Supreme Court had "found" a new "right" to citizenship for all, federal legislation wouldn't be necessary.  Holder argues, in essence, that we need legislation to secure a right that's already been secured. Anyone else detect a whiff of circularity to his argument here?

What about "human rights"? Well, the august office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights of the United Nation defines "human rights" as "rights inherent to all human beings, whatever our nationality, place of residence, sex, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, language, or any other status." Under this definition, there might be a "human right" to citizenship in some country.  But there isn't a "human right" to citizenship in any country where one wishes to have it, or else every law regulating immigration all over the world is invalid.  Clearly, there's no entitlement to citizenship in the USA . . . especially when one's method of entering it -- or continued residence in it --demonstrates a clear contempt for its laws.

"Human rights" are generally understood to encompass freedom from harassment or other mistreatment based on one's (non-dangerous) beliefs or immutable characteristics.  By that definition, it would seem that illegal immigrants in the US are doing rather well -- especially given that the Obama USDA is actively advising people they needn't be citizens of this country in order to enjoy its government (i.e. taxpayer-funded) benefits. 

Eric Holder has long been an embarassment and a disgrace as this nation's attorney general. Obviously, he invoked the specter of "civil and human rights" in an effort to imbue his message with a moral force that it otherwise lacks.  But you can't make things up just because they sound good to you, especially in high government office. It's always painful to wonder whether the nation's highest law enforcement officer simply doesn't understand what he's saying -- or simply doesn't care whether it's true. 

 @CPLiebau


Carol Platt Liebau

Carol Platt Liebau is an attorney, political commentator and guest radio talk show host based near New York. Learn more about her new book, "Prude: How the Sex-Obsessed Culture Hurts Young Women (and America, Too!)" here.