The United States of America, like every other nation on earth, has laws concerning immigration and the security of its border. Some people feel these laws are too restrictive, or not restrictive enough, but no one seriously disputes they exist.

Arizona’s widely misunderstood – and deliberately misquoted – new immigration law is an expression of no confidence in the federal government, which has refused to enforce the laws it already has on the books. The government of Arizona passed this law with due process, and strong majority support from its citizens. Unlike certain laws to come out of Congress recently, this one was not sold with fraudulent promises and carefully falsified cost estimates, scribbled on shreds torn from the Constitution.

Advocates of open borders and amnesty routinely encourage illegal immigrants to simply ignore the law. Several cities, including San Francisco, have declared themselves “sanctuary cities” where defiance of immigration law will not be prosecuted. Enforcement of the Arizona law has been caricatured as the behavior of a Nazi police state, to be conducted with racial profiling and sinister midnight knocks on the doors of terrified migrant families. Even the peaceful consumption of ice cream is said to be imperiled.

Removing the enforcement mechanism for a law renders it meaningless. If Arizona cannot expect its citizens to produce legitimate identification during traffic stops and other encounters with state authorities, the entire concept of “immigration” has been rendered meaningless… and this, in turn, largely erases the meaning of citizenship. Anyone who can physically occupy a few square feet of American soil becomes eligible to dine on the banquet of expensive services provided by our gigantic central government. This doesn’t just mean welfare. It includes all sorts of infrastructure, from roads to hospitals. We abandon even the pretense of citizens enjoying the benefits of public works they helped to build and maintain. Lawful residents of the United States, including legal immigrants who worked hard to join our society properly, become suckers who toil as janitors, in an amusement park with empty ticket booths and broken turnstiles.

The President and his party assert that only a vast and powerful central government can address the challenges faced by society. How can this be squared with the willful disregard of inconvenient laws? (They’re not even unpopular laws – they enjoy huge majority support.) How will the President’s disastrous health care bill function, if we are all free to ignore any part of it we don’t like? Will there be sanctuary cities for those who refuse to participate in ObamaCare? Their numbers would be far larger than the illegal alien population, and their belief in the immorality of the law they’re resisting would be every bit as strong.

All of the blind rage about “racial profiling” in Arizona has the situation exactly backward. Those who support the illegal alien community are the ones who assert a race-based privilege to ignore lawful statutes and resist enforcement mechanisms. No such lawbreaking will be tolerated from any group of citizens who refuse to pay the VAT tax, or obey a cap-and-trade law.

The federal government’s failure to enforce its immigration laws, and the President’s unfortunate decision to demagogue the issue at the expense of Arizona voters, puts the lie to the entire concept of a centrally managed society and economy. There’s no reason to believe thousands of pages of regulations for health care, banking, and energy production will be enforced any more carefully and honestly than immigration laws are. On the contrary, the daily news is packed with plenty of expensive evidence this Administration is virtually incapable of honestly enforcing anything. The notion that such a government can somehow build a “fair” and prosperous economy from a scrap heap of complex new regulations is laughable.

The deficit commission working furiously to manufacture political cover for tax increases should instead consider the costs of adding millions of undocumented clients to our unsustainable entitlements. The proponents of amnesty should ask themselves what future failures of law enforcement will be dismissed as billion-dollar mulligans. Those who express compassion for undocumented migrants should ask themselves why we police our border just vigorously enough to make the act of crossing it a dangerous ordeal. Intellectual consistency would demand conversion of the U.S. Border Patrol into a shuttle service across the border, with safe transportation and supplies provided by the American taxpayer. Their task should be persuading those taxpayers to support such an agenda, and use our Constitutional system to change the law… instead of screaming curses at them for insisting our current laws are respected.

Laws are not the same thing as the will of the political class. Once they understand this, they might begin to appreciate the true meaning of citizenship.

Cross-posted at www.doczero.org.

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