The arrogant sense of entitlement displayed by many illegal aliens has caused some of them to demand protection of constitutional rights guaranteed to legal U.S. citizens. Many of them even equate their situation to the civil rights struggle by black Americans in the 1950s and 1960s. Dolores Huerta, co-founder with Cesar Chavez of the United Farm Workers Union (UFWU), said last week at a rally, “We’re here celebrating a new civil rights movement, and it’s headed up by Latinos.” Ms. Huerta is deliberately misleading her followers. There is no parallel between the struggle by legal black U.S. citizens to secure their constitutionally guaranteed protections and the claim on non-existent civil rights made by millions of illegal aliens. Illegal is not a civil right.
Leaders of the long struggle for civil rights aspired to secure and protect rights based on an ideal written in the Declaration of Independence and later codified in the U.S. Constitution. That is, that all men and women are created equal, and in the U.S. all legal citizens will be guaranteed equal protection of the laws.
The 20th Century civil rights movement was preceded by nearly 250 years of slavery, followed by nearly a century of discrimination, segregation and Jim Crow laws. The movement ultimately achieved a number of legal and legislative victories, including the 1954 Supreme Court ruling in Brown v. Board of Education, the Civil Rights Acts of 1957 and 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
The key difference between the civil rights movement of the 19th and 20th Centuries and the call today for protection of non-existent rights by leaders of illegal aliens is that the leaders of the civil rights movement were fighting to secure and protect the rights of legal citizens. If illegal aliens were conferred the same constitutional rights as legal U.S. citizens, the benefits and uniqueness of U.S. citizenship would cease to have meaning and our nation would lose its sovereignty.
The leaders of the civil rights movement did not seek extra-constitutional rights or benefits. They merely sought the protection of their right to participate fully in society and government with the vote, and they sought to overturn the discriminatory laws that prevented them from participating fully in the economy. Conversely, leaders of the movement to secure rights for illegal aliens – as well as their supporters in Congress – want to undermine and destroy the Constitution and the rights it guarantees legal U.S. citizens.
Just as Ms. Huerta is misleading her followers on the facts of the 20th Century civil rights movement, she is deliberately deceiving them about Cesar Chavez’s views toward illegal aliens. Steve Salier, in the February 27, 2006 issue of The American Conservative, writes that the late Mr. Chavez was a successful labor organizer and union leader who fought for reforms in wages and working conditions for farm workers. Chavez keenly understood the basic relationship between wages and labor supply in a market economy – more supply equals lower wages. To protect the interests of his UFWU members, Chavez had to insure that illegal aliens willing to toil in harsh conditions for low pay did not dilute the domestic labor supply.
Cesar Chavez was surely proud of his Hispanic heritage but, like civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., he fought to protect the rights and interests of legal U.S. citizens.
In 1858 Abraham Lincoln delivered his “House Divided” speech to the Illinois Republican State Convention. Regarding the issue of slavery Lincoln stated, “A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved – I do not expect the house to fall – but I do expect it will cease to be divided.”
Similarly, a nation divided between its laws and lawlessness cannot stand.
President Bush and Congress are sending a message to legal U.S. citizens and the world that they are willing to tolerate a “house divided” by allowing 11 million illegal aliens to openly break the law. They are then willing to stand by and watch the illegal aliens flaunt their lawbreaking in our streets while waving the flag of their native country.
We are a nation of legal immigrants, and there is a road to citizenship. Along that road are legal entry, our Constitution, the rule of law and the flag of the United States of America.