Immigration Sophistry

Thomas Sowell, Creators, April 15, 2013

Most laws are meant to stop people from doing something, and to penalize those who disregard those laws. More generally, laws are meant to protect the society from the law breakers.

But our immigration laws are different. Here the whole focus is on the “plight” of those who have broken the laws, and on what can be done to lift the stigma and ease the pressures they feel, so that they can “come out of the shadows” and “normalize” their lives.

Merely using the word “illegal” to describe their breaking the law is considered to be a sign of mean-spiritedness, if not racism. The Associated Press refuses to let their reporters refer to people who sneaked across the border into this country, in violation of American immigration laws, as “illegal immigrants.”

On the other hand, if an ordinary American citizen breaks a law, no one cares if he has to live in fear for years—”in the shadows,” as it were—worrying that his illegal act will be discovered and punished. No one bothers to come up with euphemisms to keep from calling what he did illegal.

No cities announce that they will provide “sanctuary,” so that American shoplifters, or even jay-walkers, will be protected from the law. But, in some places, illegal immigrants are treated almost as if they were in a witness protection program.

What is even more remarkable about this special treatment is that you are not supposed to think about it as special treatment. When a new immigration law is proposed that simply overlooks violations of the old law, that is not supposed to be called “amnesty”—even though the word “amnesty” has the same root as “amnesia.” It is all about forgetting.

Why is it not supposed to be called “amnesty”? Because illegal immigrants must “earn” their citizenship. But if an ordinary American citizen gets a traffic ticket, the law is not going to just forget about it, no matter what good deeds he does afterwards.


Impressive feats of sophistry have become the norm in discussions of illegal immigration.

For example, we are told that there is no way that the government can find all the people who are in the country illegally and deport them. Does anyone imagine that the government can find all the embezzlers, drunk drivers or bank robbers in the country? And does anyone think that this is a reason why the government should stop trying to enforce laws against embezzlement, drunk driving or bank robbery? Or let embezzlers, drunk drivers and bank robbers “come out of the shadows” and “normalize” their lives?


Why are there immigration laws in the first place? For the benefit of the American people—not for the benefit of people in other countries who want to come here.


If legal benefits are conferred on illegal immigrants before the border is secured, we may as well give up any pretense that we have an immigration policy, because benefits conferred are never going to be taken back, no matter how porous the border remains.

Topics: , ,

Share This

We welcome comments that add information or perspective, and we encourage polite debate. If you log in with a social media account, your comment should appear immediately. If you prefer to remain anonymous, you may comment as a guest, using a name and an e-mail address of convenience. Your comment will be moderated.
  • White Mom in WDC

    People who harbor illegal immigrants must be punished. They are the problem. I don’t get many Americans today. We here at Amren are aware and have self preservation. These enablers just give the store away.

    • sbuffalonative

      Every employer who hires an illegal should be in jail or at least fined as they were supposed to be because of the last ‘one-time-only’ amnesty. That would end the drive for more ‘workers’.

      • Why can’t we have laws like in the UK where if an employer is caught with an illegal worker, they are charged $15,000 pounds per worker?

        • DudeWheresMyCountry?

          Has that worked in the UK? I know The UK is the top destination of squatters and refugees entering the EU. The UK needs to get out of the EU.

        • Greg Thomas

          Monetary fines do not deter the wealthy traitors who hire illegal invaders. They are merely a cost of doing business. These bastards should pay with their liberty, not their dollars.

  • David Ashton

    Of course, sympathy for criminals rather than their victims is a characteristic of a secular “liberalism” that it has misappropriated from a decadent “christianism”.

  • The__Bobster

    I watched several talking heads shows yesterday morning. Each and every one of the panelists gushed over how wonderful the squat monsters were for America and how amnesty was in the bag. Obviously the media moguls are afraid to let our side be heard.

    • Did you see Rubio say that we have to pass an amnesty bill that has fake pretend border security, because if we don’t, Obama will issue an executive order amnesty without fake pretend border security?

      Lame, I know.

      If Obama pulls that stunt, then he should be impeached.

    • Greg Thomas

      You’re a better man than I Bobster. I can no longer bare to watch these traitors in action.

    • JohnEngelman

      If these talking heads had reason to fear losing their well paying jobs to illegal immigrants who would perform their jobs for much less they would feel differently about the issue.

  • NeanderthalDNA

    Control of the language is an obvious sign of totalitarianism. Here it’s a farce I call “democratic totalitarianism”.

    And just remember, evil whitey, yer soon to be a minority. That by the way, is not really a “statement of fact”. It’s an existential and purposeful threat.

  • bigone4u

    I live in a so-called “sanctuary city.” The real meaning of the term is that a group of cheap politicians pandering for votes from Hispanic voters have decided to ignore the law. If they get to decide which laws they will obey then why can’t I and everyone else decide which laws we will obey? This is why I will break any law I can get away with breaking so long as my law breaking does not hurt anyone else and so long as it chips away at the legitimacy of the current government occupying Washington.

    • Erasmus

      Beyond force majeure the regime in Washington really no longer has any legitimacy.

    • George

      No matter what the local authorities may claim, a citizen can always call the U.S. Border Patrol or ICE directly.

      Posters on telephone poles stating that illegals will be reported can create a nice ‘chilling effect’ for the diversity that shouldn’t be in the US in the first place. Contact numbers for the relevant agencies on the posters can assist others to turn the brownies in to the proper authorities.

  • sbuffalonative

    I’ve been fed up with the ‘pity the poor illegal immigrant’ narrative for years!

    An endless stream of on-line and TV reports about some poor illegal family who fears going out because ICE might actually be doing their JOB!

    • Greg Thomas

      They have absolutely nothing to fear sb. Illegal invaders have a better chance of winning the lottery than being picked up by ICE. We all know it.

  • Erasmus

    I fear the future of my children and grandchildren. A 2nd amnesty will be the final nail in America’s coffin. A 2nd amnesty will only encourage more violations of our national sovereignty, a further erosion of our rights and civil liberties and the continued 3rd worldization of the US and all the horrors that will come with it. Most ominously, a 2nd amnesty guarantees that there will be a 3rd.
    Why worry about enemies from without when the biggest danger to the country’s continued well-being is from our own lawmakers?

    • JohnEngelman

      If embezzlers, drunk drivers and bank robbers were given amnesty embezzlement, drunk driving, and bank robbing would certainly increase.

  • NYB

    The masters of persuasion believe they can sell anything.

    As long as they have control of the media and entertainment, and exert great influence over legislation and education, they believe an entire race of whites can be brought under their domination.

    Let there be no doubt: selling modern immigration is one of the most extensive sell jobs in the history of mankind. It is massively funded, takes numerous forms, and at its heart is motivated by base, cynical greed.

    Those who take part in selling immigration hate us, hate the environment, hate spirituality, and hate all virtue. They love money, and nothing else.

  • mobilebay

    Our so called leaders have decided to throw in the towel. They’ve surrendered to every third country in the world. “They’re here and there’s nothing that can be done,so we might as well turn over the country to them,” is their motto.

    • MBlanc46

      It’s not third world countries that the politicians are kowtowing to. It’s the corporate elite, who both demand an unending supply of cheap labor and bankroll the politicians, that are calling the shots.

  • LastBastionOfHope

    Plain and simple: America no longer has balls. If we don’t say “yes sir” to every demand minorities make, you are called a racist nazi xenophobic. We are supposed to ignore the legality of their actions and focus on their humanity and their personal problems. As if legal citizens don’t have enough plight with this crap economy, a 50% divorce rate, etc.

  • Bobby

    This is so utterly true,( that we are supposed to sympathize even with illegal alien criminals), that here in Southern California, where there are more illegal alien criminals, and illegal alien non-criminals(that’s an oxymoron), I have never once, NOT ONE SINGLE TIME, read, out of hundreds of articles by big papers like the Los Angeles Times, a single piece on the horrible effects of illegal alien criminals on lawabiding Californians. All the Times has ever done is write article after article, supporting their criminality and making up excuses for it.

  • Anon12

    All talk show hosts all spout the same ole line. We cannot deport “11 million” illegals. (Funny how that 11 million hasn’t inched up in YEARS!) It is more like 30 million! The so-called conservative talk show hosts as bad as the left is when defending the amnesty bill and oh, their “poor kids” we have to “keep the families together”…I am beginning the hate the GOP and all their pandering to anyone of color! We Whites are the forgotten ones on both sides of the the aisle. How did Whites become so docile and apathetic? Is there any hope left for our race and our nations that we once had and fought for? I don’t see any hope left for my people. It breaks my heart and my soul to see where my race has gone.

    • George

      How about this for an idea…

      If you are an illegal pregnant sow and spurt your animal offspring out on US soil, the animal you churned out is also deemed to be illegal. It will have been deemed to have been born on the soil of your country of citizenship.

      Therefore, no problem ‘splitting up families’. The offspring of the unregistered Democrat can be duly deported with the parental filth that spawned it.

  • Chris

    Thank you Mr. Sowell for your continued incisive analysis. However, as you well know, logic does not work when dealing with the Left.

    • JohnEngelman

      Logic does not work for those governed by strong emotions, whether they are on the left or the right.

  • PDK/Kelto-Scandic Secessionist

    White liberals of the LMSM, seizing their opportunity to
    practice their religious faith in liberal ideology as it availed itself early
    on in the Boston bombing news story, could not wait a fleeting second to
    pretend they believe this type of bombing was the non-liberal, white, anti-government type of action.

    This is the type of action most commonly seen in the white
    world by left wing, liberal, radicals such as Bill Ayers, creator of the weather
    underground, aka, the weathermen. Bill Ayers, friend of BHO, ghost writer of
    BHO’s “Dreams of My Father”, liberal professor at a major University, destroyer
    of our young white people’s minds should be in prison for the 4 bombings he is
    responsible for but the FBI got anxious, stepped on the law going after his
    wife and co-founder Bernadine Dohr, and the two skirted justice.

    Further pursuing the liberal ideological illusion that now
    reigns as our zeitgeist, the box in which we are all only forced to think in,
    the white liberals and their LMSM, which initially blamed non-liberal whitey by
    implication, then blamed a “white” Saudi once it became clear that a Saudi was
    the suspected culprit.

    White liberals are so insane with their liberal, ideological
    illusion; they are at risk of causing a catastrophe of Biblical, Old Testament proportions.

    Liberalism is the failure to mature. Immaturity denies
    reality and substitutes a preferred illusion in said reality’s stead. White
    liberals are so enthralled with the blame non-liberal whitey for all problems; they
    deny the truth of it being nearly always someone other than a non-liberal white
    who is the culprit. Does the smell of the immature trait of cowardice wafting through
    the liberal ambience register in other non-liberal whites olfactory as it does

    White liberals are sowing the seeds of ruination for our
    culture, white race and white gene pool. They are the equivalent of a hoard of
    locust descending on fields of cultivated crops, satisfying their own immature gluttony
    at the expense of the white collective. White liberals are the scourge of the
    Devil, laying waste to all that is of the whites, the white race and white gene

    Secession is the answer, the only answer. Thank you.

  • jtkayLA

    I was just reading an article on CNN that claimed 80% of Americans support a path to citizenship for some illegals. I assume the wording of the poll was designed to misrepresent public opinion. You know something like this: “Who would you be more likely to support a path to citizenship for: this person or that person?” The people commenting are pretty much all against amnesty. I tried to add a comment, but after only 105 responses CNN turned the comments off.

    • Bobby

      CNN, is a leftist communist propaganda machine. PERIOD!! If FOX NEWS is bad, (and it is), CNN is plain EVIL.

  • Doug

    What an amazing amount of good sense!