Immigration, Executive Orders, and the Christian Message: Another One Matt Walsh Gets Wrong


IMG_0547At this point I feel like I could make a living off writing against Matt Walsh. I’ve yet to come across anything he’s written where I can sit there and go, “This post was substantial, informative, and something I can mostly agree with.” Instead, reading a Matt Walsh post is a lot like trying to chug cheap whiskey; it’s a bad idea and you’re going to regret it. Walsh is the Kardashians of the conservative movement. No one really knows how someone who has done literally nothing became so popular and annoying, there’s just no explanation for either the Kardashians or Walsh. And yet, he persists. His latest ramblings on immigration reform attack President Obama’s executive order as well as the idea of immigration reform, all the while Walsh is proving that he’s not really pro-family, unless your family happens to be American.

First and foremost, someone should alert Walsh to the fact that if you’re going to refer to someone using the poetic apostrophe “O” that it’s spelled “O,” not “oh.” “Oh” is an emotive interjection, such as, “Oh, I was just thinking…” If I want to address someone, I’d say, “O Holiness.” A minor note, but one worth noting. I know of the above because I used to make the same mistake. Thankfully, my English teacher in the tenth grade corrected me.

The biggest complaint that Walsh has with Obama is the use of an executive order. Cutting through all the wording, Walsh’s argument boils down to this: “Obama bypassed Congress and in so doing created the law by fiat, which makes him a tyrant.” I’ll be the first one to admit that I’m not too keen on executive orders. There’s a reason that up until the late 19th century, they were used quite sparingly. Regardless, the last president to have less than 100 executive orders within his term(s) was Chester Arthur (who?), back in 1885. In other words, for 129 years every president has issued at least 100 executive orders. In that timespan, there have only been four presidents who issued less executive orders than Obama (who, to be fair, is halfway into his second term, so that number could go up). Regardless, as far as precedence goes, Obama is pretty low on executive orders. Nixon, Carter, Reagan, and Clinton all sat above 300 executive orders.

Again, while I’m not a fan of executive orders, they’ve been common place for 129 years, they do allow clarification on the role of the executive office in executing a law. Since George Washington – who issued eight executive orders – they’ve been used to explain the internal functions of how any given law ought to be enforced. They give the parameters and to what extent the law will be executed. The very first executive order was issued by Washington declaring that all US citizens had to stay out of the conflict involving England and France; what makes it more amazing is that Washington did this without interpreting any present laws, but rather created the decree because Congress was out of session. In other words, our very first President essentially created a law by fiat and hardly anyone batted an eye at the time. Lincoln suspended habeas corpus without Congress in session in 1861 and Congress didn’t back him until 1863. And let’s not forget possibly the most famous executive order ever issued, the Emancipation Proclamation.

There are multiple examples of presidents, many of whom are considered great presidents, using their executive power to decree laws without Congress in session. In fact, the last few presidents have all issued executive orders dealing with immigration reform. Thus, Obama doing the same – while not necessarily a good thing – isn’t out of line or odd. If it were then Republicans could easily defund the executive order to challenge it in court (as all executive orders can be subjected to judicial review). Republicans already did this with the famous “birth control” executive order. They could attempt it with the order on illegal immigration, but there’s not a lot in the Constitution to show how the executive order is wrong. Thus, contra Walsh, Obama didn’t do anything tyrannical, nor did he break the law, nor did he really do anything wrong from a legal standpoint

Of course, Walsh goes on and repeats the Republican message on this act, which is truly contradictory. Let’s see if we can follow the logic:

Republicans were going to work with Obama on immigration reform, but now that he’s unilaterally created reform Republicans can’t work with him. Why? Because the American people overwhelmingly wouldn’t support what Obama did (refuse to split up families) and is something the Republicans wouldn’t have done.

Now, if Republicans are saying they wouldn’t have done what Obama just did, how can they in the same breath argue they would have worked for reform? Republicans have come out against the content of what Obama did, as Walsh did. The argument is that somehow by allowing immigrants into our nation it will kill our economy. If these are the talking points that Walsh and other Republicans put forth, how can they say they were going to work with Obama? What “reform” would they have put in place? And if they say they would have allowed what Obama did as part of the reform, what prevents them from pursuing the rest? Instead, this is political grandstanding and is a way to throw dirt at Obama.

Walsh (and Republicans) go on to argue that immigration is hurting our economy, that it takes away jobs, that the immigrants are poor and therefore can’t get high paying jobs, and so on. Yet, from 1910 to 1920 more immigrants poured in from European countries than we had ever seen. The same arguments used today were used against those same immigrants back then. History books know them as Jews, Russians, Slavs, Italians, Irish, and other Eastern Europeans. You might know them as your great-grandparents, or grandparents, or mom and dad. In terms of numbers, more immigrants poured into our nation during that time than at any other time in US history, and it wasn’t surpassed until the late 1990s/early 2000s. The fear mongering at the time lead to the Emergency Quota Act, an act that limited the number of immigrants from countries based on nationalities already present in the US. Or, to put it another way, it made sure that only people from Northern Europe were likely to get into the US. It, and its counterpart in 1924 (The Immigration Act), made it nearly impossible for anyone from Africa, southern Europe, eastern Europe, or Jews to come into the United States. Ironically enough, Latin America wasn’t given a quote because (1) there was a vast indigenous Hispanic population out west) and (2) because Hispanics were considered white.

The point being, there’s not a single economist who is serious about his trade who would argue that the immigration from 1910-1920 killed our economy. When looking at the crash in 1929, immigrants aren’t taken into consideration. It doesn’t make sense that immigrants would hurt the economy, because immigrants have demands and those demands must be met by a supply. People have to eat, they have to buy clothing, they have to have shelter, and so on. Thus, they’ll spend what money they make on those things, creating more demand, which requires more supply, meaning there must be labor to help keep up with that supply. Consider that if you look at cities with the lowest unemployment rate, many of them end up in the American Southwest. The American Southwest, incidentally, has one of the highest illegal immigrant populations in the US. If immigration caused a decrease in the availability of jobs, it would follow that where illegal immigrants gather, higher than usual unemployment would follow, but this isn’t the case.

Of course, where illegal immigration does hurt is that it can lower the wages for skilled workers. Illegal immigrants can come in below minimum wage or right at minimum wage, competing against native-born workers. But this is because the immigrants are undocumented and therefore have no recourse if wronged on wage. The solution isn’t necessarily to deport them, but to allow them to be documented and therefore subjected to wage laws, placing them back on a level playing field. Yet again, Walsh strikes out.

What, exactly, did Obama order though? Did he say that all illegal immigrants are safe, that he’s just not going to follow the law? Did Obama just grant amnesty to all those nasty brown people illegal immigrants? The answer [sadly] is no, he did not. What he did is declare that anyone who has children who are citizens of the US, meaning they were born here, will not be deported. To put this in a parlance I hope everyone can understand, we’re no longer going to split apart families.

So let’s get this straight: Right now, a mother who comes over to the US, has a child, can be deported while her child is forced to stay here. The Republican Party and Matt Walsh, who are all about family values, would rather see families split apart than allow one illegal immigrant to stay in the US. How in the world is that family values?

I’ve spoken to the victims of such a policy. I remember speaking with a mother in Mexico who was deported out of San Diego with her oldest child, but her two younger children – both born in the US and thus US citizens – stayed. I spoke with a nineteen-year-old kid who knew English better than Spanish because his parents brought him over the border when he was a few months old, but he was deported when he was seventeen. Here on this side of the boarder, I’ve watched husbands lose their wives to deportation, children lose their parents, and the cycle goes on. How can someone be pro-family when they support a policy that is adamantly anti-family?

Matt Walsh, and many conservative Republicans, love to say they stand for Christian values, but where are their Christian values when it comes to immigration? Where are the values of loving one’s neighbor as one’s self? Where is the empathy towards the plight of the poorest of immigrants? Where is the love for a family facing permanent separation? Where is the concern for the foreigner?

The Christian message, while recognizing the government and cultures, extends beyond borders and languages. At its core, Christianity is about reconciling humans to God, but part of this reconciliation is by reconciling humans to other humans. This occurs via acts of love and through serving one another. Now, I’m not asking that our national laws be based on Christian principles, but I am asking for consistency from Christians on issues concerning immigration. If we’re going to call for a “Christian nation” or at least for a “Judeo-Christian” worldview within politics, then we have to change our voice on immigration. The Judeo-Christian worldview doesn’t allow for our current immigration system, nor does it support the splitting apart of families all in the name of deportation. It supports recognizing that the poorest of other countries ought to be allowed to come to ours.

Walsh talks about how we’re the land of the free, which is highly debatable. Regardless, the absolute contradiction within his message, and the conservative message, is that while America is the greatest, freest, richest nation in the world, we really don’t want anyone to come over here and partake in it. That’s not the Christian message. If America truly is great – and it is a great nation, though not the greatest – then we ought to allow liberty’s torch to burn bright as we light the way for the tired, the poor, and the oppressed as they make their way into our lands.

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4 thoughts on “Immigration, Executive Orders, and the Christian Message: Another One Matt Walsh Gets Wrong

  1. I’m not sure Walsh is a good representation of what conservatives are upset about here–if, like you say, he’s the Kardashians of the movement, then wouldn’t it make sense to choose a more level-headed conservative thinker to represent the issue?

    I think this article (http://neoneocon.com/2014/11/20/our-wannabee-sovereign-will-address-the-nation-this-evening/) is a decent summary of what a lot of conservatives are thinking. It addresses the differences between previous executive orders on immigration and this one, as well as the fact that Obama himself has said repeatedly in the past that an action like the one he’s taking now would be the act of a “king” or “emperor.”

    Here (http://www.bookwormroom.com/2014/11/20/my-response-to-all-those-liberal-friends-of-mine-who-are-thrilled-by-obamas-amnesty-order/) is another good post.

    And try googling “The Next Prez and the Obama Way” for an amusing WSJ take on the whole mess. (I can’t provide a link or you would hit a paywall.)

    I haven’t seen much conservative angst about the substance of this action; they’re all worried about the action itself.

  2. Hello Joel,

    I have been following your blog for some time now and have enjoyed many of your articles. However I feel compelled to challenge some of the ideas you forward in this article. I know you are going to disagree with everything I am about to write which is okay. If you can make a case that I am wrong please do so.

    First I would like to state that nations were set up by God and that there is nothing wrong with nationalism (for a short reference on Biblical government see this link). I assume you are familiar with this teaching so I won’t take any more space on it. If you happen to disagree that nations are instituted by God, and can back that up with scripture, I would be interested in hearing your ideas on the subject.

    Why do I bring up the concept of “nation” you may ask? It is because nations have a right to set the rules for citizenship and who is allowed to immigrate to and live within their boundaries. The United States is quite within its rights to decide who may and may not live here. The problem comes when parts of our government decide they don’t like the rules (aka the law) and choose to ignore them. The President’s executive order on immigration does not lay out how he will enforce the law but rather how he will ignore it. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think the Republicans actually care but they will make a lot of noise to help their political prospects. I agree with Karl Denninger (who is both a Roman Catholic and a small “l” libertarian) that both parties are playing political theatre and have no intention of enforcing the law (see “There Is No Longer A Rule Of Law”).

    Between 1910 and 1920 the United States did experience a large influx of Europeans from Eastern Europe. It shouldn’t be forgotten that they came here legally and received no benefits from a welfare state. Both are important points but I won’t say any more lest you call me a racist too.

    The Democrats want immigration from south of the border for political reasons. The votes of the vast majority of those Roman Catholic immigrants from 1910-1920 went to the Democrats and gave them the electoral muscle needed to pass the New Deal. The Democrats expect the new wave of Roman Catholic immigrants from Latin America to swing their way en masse as well. This immigration wave will make the Democratic Party a permanent majority.

    The Republicans on the other hand are the party of “business”. Not mom and pop business mind you but of businesses that benefit from cheap black market labor. There are many businesses that keep their profit margins fat by paying “undocumented workers” below minimum wage with no benefits under terrible conditions. You have to love what this does for their bottom line.

    I work in the insurance business and it has been a principal of American law that no one can legally benefit from an illegal act. If I insure my business and it burns down I won’t be indemnified if it turns out I set the fire. Most people would agree that is reasonable. Apparently that logic is no longer valid when it comes to illegal immigration. To commit an illegal act (often aided and abetted by the Mexican government) is supposed to be forgiven and rewarded. That is especially true if the law breaker happens to have any children while here. Whoever said “crime doesn’t pay”?

    I also have to say that your accusation that Matt Walsh is somehow racist was lame. Not only wasn’t that evident from your article (I’m sure you are somehow reading his mind) but Mexican culture is openly and unrepentantly racist. I guess I could ask you why you want so many racists to emigrate to the U.S.? Racism is racism isn’t it?

    I think you get the point. I look forward to your response and I hope you don’t have to correct too much of my grammar and spelling.

    Glenn

  3. Commenters Tannigi and Glenn (above) seem to get it just right:

    (i) If Walsh is a Kardashian, then why not take aim at a more worthy target? There are plenty of *sensible* thinkers on the right: try Victor Davis Hanson or Michael Medved for starters.
    (ii) Grammar trolling?
    (iii) Crying racism is intellectually lazy. Being (roughly) on the right myself, I come here in part to hear interesting arguments from the left. After all, the blog’s masthead speaks of *rational* Christianity. But why then speculate on the psychological motivations of those with whom you disagree? Better to just engage the arguments, right?

    Three cheers for grace and charity toward the foreigner, the outcast, the downtrodden… but also toward those with whom you disagree politically.

  4. It’s great to see such lively interaction on the blog! Several of you criticized Joel for choosing to engage Matt Walsh on this subject because Joel considers him the “Kardashian” of the conservative movement. I think this is precisely why Joel should engage Matt Walsh–because he is incredibly popular and, thus, very influential. We should also engage Richard Dawkins–he’s a terrible philosopher (I mean, awful), but very influential. As to the other objections, I’ll leave Joel to defend himself. Thanks again for the great comments–please keep it up!

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