Alternate Assumption: America should favor American citizens.
I had been planning to discuss this assumption later in the process but this assumption so underpins Obama’s recent executive action on immigration and the entire immigration debate I have moved it up a bit.
First it is important to note that this is strictly a values assumption. There are no facts to argue here.
The basic assumption is that we are citizens of the world. Americans are not inherently better than other people in the world. If our policies favor Americans over other people, we are implying that Americans are more worthy than anybody else. The moral approach is to treat everybody equally. Immigration restrictions are immoral because they state that existing Americans have more of a right to be in America than other people in the world. Moreover, unless you are a native American, you are an immigrant or a descendant of immigrants so it is hypocritical for you to try to restrict immigration.
As Barack Obama said just a few days ago on November 24, 2014 in his immigration speech in Chicago:
If you look at the history of immigration in this country, each successive wave, there have been periods where the folks who were already here suddenly say, well, I don’t want those folks. Even though the only people who have the right to say that are some Native Americans.
It is clear that the belief that America should not favor Americans is a core value behind President Obama’s immigration approach. The purpose of this post is not to debate immigration. I want to look at the core value itself.
This assumption has a further assumption below it. It states that whenever someone favors one person over another, that person is stating that the more favored person is somehow superior to the less favored person. I believe that this is a false assumption. When a parent cares for his or her child, the parent is not saying that this child is more worthy than all other children. The parent cares for the child because of an emotional attachment and because the parent has assumed a fiduciary duty to act in the interests of the child.
Now let’s move up from the individual to local levels of government. At the governmental level, we no longer have the emotional attachment, but the fiduciary duty still holds. A fire department, for example, has the fiduciary duty to protect the homes and businesses within the district from fire. It does not have the same fiduciary duty to protect the homes in neighboring districts. This doesn’t mean that if a neighboring district has a fire and there is not currently a fire in the district, that the local fire department shouldn’t assist the neighboring fire department. If there are simultaneous fires in both districts, however, the local fire department needs to take care of its own residents first.
At the state level, the Missouri government has a duty to protect the citizens of Missouri. The Illinois government has a duty to protect the citizens of Illinois. In doing this, neither state is saying that the citizens of its state are better or more worthy people than citizens of the other state.
It is the same at the federal level. The United States government has a duty to the citizens of the United States. The Mexican government has a duty to the citizens of Mexico, and the Nigerian government has a duty to the citizens of Nigeria. This is not racism or any other form of discrimination. It is a government fulfilling the duty that the government was created for.
Therefore America should favor Americans. This does not mean that America has the right to attack other countries or expect countries to favor Americans over its own citizens. America has not only the right but the moral obligation to put the interests of its own citizens first while respecting the obligation of every other country to put its citizens first as well. Greece should favor Greeks. Mexico should favor Mexicans. America should favor Americans.