Well, we have recently heard a lot of bold words coming from presidential hopeful Donald Trump. I had the opportunity to share the stage with Mr. Trump in South Carolina, and he agrees with every Constitutional-thinking American about the importance of securing our borders and the fact that we must do something to protect our country. Trump even suggested charging the Mexican government $100,000 for every illegal immigrant it "sends over."
Contrasting that view are the standards of current Vice-President Joseph Biden: "These people are just waiting, waiting for a chance to be able to contribute fully," he said. "And by that standard, 11 million undocumented aliens are already Americans, in my view."
You might be shocked to learn the word "immigration" does not appear in the U.S. Constitution or any of its 27 amendments.
The rules of immigration were reserved to the States through the 10th Amendment until the first federal law was enacted in 1875. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled the following year that immigrant regulation was an exclusive federal responsibility. Many states might hope they would do a better job.
So who is right? Trump? Biden? The Supreme Court?
Perhaps the better question is, "What is an American?" Then, perhaps, the question of "what makes an American" can easily be solved.
Is it where you were born?
Is it because of where you presently live?
Does a Social Security number make you an American?
How about a passport or driver's license?
If we think back to America's beginning, what made you an American? It certainly wasn't any of the above. In the late 18th century, was it geography that drew our founders together in a struggle to free themselves from the tyranny of King George III?
I don't think so. The words of the founders themselves, backed up by contemporaneous sources, suggest something else.
Could it be that the men who formed the Declaration Committee - Jefferson, Adams, Livingston, Franklin, and Sherman - gave us a clue in the very document they drafted?
I think so.
What they believed was what brought them together and unified their resolve to risk their lives and fortunes and stake their honor.
Their common faith and the commitment to act boldly on that faith was what made them Americans.
What were the tenets of that faith, as expressed in the Declaration?
For them, it came down to three basic points:
They said, "There is a God. A Creator God."
They said, "Our rights come from Him."
And they said, "The purpose of government is to protect and defend these God-given rights."
This is the faith of our fathers and it is application to government. It's what made them Americans.
Now let me ask you, "Are the current leaders in our government acting like Americans?" Do they believe these things, and are they committed to act on these beliefs?
If not, perhaps the bigger problem at our borders is not any group of immigrants in these United States, but rather the power un-American government uses to "Trump" We the People.
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