Kris Kobach, the secretary of state of Kansas, is a devoted foe of illegal immigration. While he has generated considerable acrimony among certain groups his approach seems to be worthy of consideration.
Rather than focusing on something like building a wall, Kobach has taken a strategic approach to the problem by addressing the factors that motivate illegal immigration. To be specific, his intent seems to be to use legal means to deny illegal immigrants access to schools, jobs, housing and citizenship for their children who are born here.
One one hand, the approach seems to both effective and reasonable. In terms of the effectiveness, if illegal immigrants are denied access to what has drawn them to America, then they will no longer have reasons to come here or remain here. This would, of course, decrease the number of people attempting to enter and remain in the United States illegally.
In terms of the reasonableness, given that illegal immigrants are in the country illegally, it would certainly seem reasonable to conclude that they are not entitled to the goods and services that are provided by the tax payers. To use an analogy, someone who breaks into my house is clearly not entitled to be there nor is he entitled to avail himself to my food, shower and TV.
It might be replied that someone who needs shelter and food has the right to break into my house and take my property. Likewise, people who need education, jobs, and so on have the right to enter America illegally and help themselves to what they need.
While it can be argued that those in extreme duress have the right to take what they need, this usually requires that they are being unjustly denied what they truly need and that there is not a viable alternative. In the case of illegal immigration, a case can probably be made in many cases for duress. It could even be argued that the duress could have been caused, in part, by past actions of the United States. Going back to the house analogy, if my actions put someone into duress, perhaps they would be justified in breaking into my house to secure food and shelter.
However, it can also be argued that the illegal immigrants are not under enough duress to justify their illegal activities. It could also be argued that the illegal immigrants do have viable alternatives, such as getting what they need in their own country. They could, it might be argued, spend their time making their own countries better rather than going to the United States to avail themselves of better opportunities. Less harshly, it could be pointed out that the United States has legal channels of immigration as well as legal means by which people can acquire education and jobs in America. After all, America’s schools have significant numbers of students from other countries who are here legally and there are many people who work here quite legally.
True, the legal channels could be improved and streamlined. However, they do exist and do not seem to be onerous beyond reason. As such, it seems reasonable to expect people to use these channels. To use an analogy, if someone can acquire food and shelter via legal means and without breaking into my house, then they would seem to have little right to claim access to my house.
That said, there are some legitimate concerns about Kobach’s approach. Obviously enough we do not want to act unjustly or open opportunities for serious misuses of the legal apparatus. As such, Kobach’s crusade should be properly assessed lest he be allowed to err on the side of injustice. Also of considerable concern are what others are doing and might do with the tools provided by Kobach.