A view from here


Frank Slater

Follow the rules

A recent GOP survey I completed contained this question: “Would you support immigration reform that included securing our borders and a path to citizenship for some people living in the U.S. illegally if they would be required to learn English, go to the back of the citizenship line, have a job, pay taxes and pass a criminal background check?” A related question was, “Do you believe our government is doing enough to protect the homeland from future terrorist attacks?”

The phrases “secure our borders” and “protect our homeland” seem designed to incite fear and incline the respondent to choose the answer desired by the pollster.

These are all the Federal agencies that have immigration and integration responsibilities as of 2005:

Department of Homeland Security

Citizenship and Security Service

Department of State

--Bureau of Consular Affairs

--Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration

Department of Justice

--Executive Office for Immigration Review

--Board of Immigration Appeals

Department of Labor

Department of Education

Department of Health and Human Services

These are all in the executive branch of the federal government under President Barack Obama. If the Republican Congress, the members of which swear or affirm that they will support and defend the Constitution (like the president) think our borders are insecure and our homeland is in danger of terrorist attack and can produce facts to support their case, then it seems to me the Congress is derelict in its duty if it fails to call the president to account. If they don’t have a case, they should advise their party public information section to quit crying wolf because quite a few of us out here take them seriously.

The first question refers to a path to citizenship for persons here illegally who want to stay. I think they should know their obligations, rights and privileges under our law. They should be required to learn English, have a job, pay taxes, pass a criminal background check and go to the back of the citizenship line. Becoming a naturalized citizen includes an oath swearing, among other things, that “I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same.”

The framers of our Constitution had much experience with, and a healthy respect for, the inroads a willful monarch could make on the rights of his subjects. They were careful to divide power between three branches of government. The Congress, representative of the people, is to make the law. The president is to defend the Constitution, command the armed forces of the United States and enforce the law. The Supreme Court is to decide the constitutionality of laws passed by Congress.

Our system is slow and messy but it protects the rights of each individual under its jurisdiction better than any other, as long as everyone is doing the job they've sworn to do.

Frank Slater, retired math teacher and Korean War veteran, lives in Vaughn.