Activist Refresher: Why We Fight
Frank Capra understood and cherished America, capturing its spirit vividly in the movies he directed, including the iconic Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and It’s a Wonderful Life. His largest contribution to the nation he loved, however, was a series of seven Why We Fight documentaries made between 1942 and 1945. Each one explained for active duty troops — and the public at large — why America was at war, and the broad principles for which it was fighting. Whereas newsreels shown at the time informed the public about the nation’s efforts — the “what and how” — Capra’s films illuminated, as President Franklin D. Roosevelt said, the “galvanizing and motivating reasons why.”
Today, America’s challenge is closer to home, and turning the tide on America’s current border crisis involves an entirely different type of citizen effort: public education, civil engagement, lobbying lawmakers, and voting. The similarity is that our current fight for true immigration reform is also grounded in values and principles. With national elections looming and many state legislatures now returning to session, here are some foundational “reasons why” worth repeating for activists:
- As a sovereign nation, America has the right and responsibility to protect its borders, territorial integrity, identity, and assets in order to maintain national security, public safety, social and economic stability, and cultural cohesiveness.
- America has the right to limit immigration levels to preserve jobs for its citizens, protect wages, maintain quality health care and education, and ensure the sustainability of social services and precious natural resources.
- The rule of law is the bedrock of our democracy, and our immigration laws are no exception. Article I, Section 8, of the U.S. Constitution grants Congress the responsibility to “establish a uniform Rule of Naturalization,” while Article II, Section 3, requires that the president, “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.”
- American citizens have a right for their voices to be heard in all policy decisions that affect them; special interests must never be allowed to dictate the terms of public policy.
- Immigration policy must serve the broad national interests, now and for future generations.
Unfortunately, these principled and aspirational “building blocks” for sensible policies are always substituted for self-serving arguments by special interests peddling mass immigration, ignored by mainstream media, and often lost in the gyrations and noise of legislative activity. Even for the most ardent activist, it’s easy to lose sight of the “big picture” given the blitzkrieg of immigration issues occurring more rapidly in every facet of society, and with so many fires to put out.
The fight continues and it may be a sustained one as long as mass immigration is permitted to fatten the electorate for power-hungry political parties, or provides an exploitable labor pool to unscrupulous employers…or, as long as we lose sight of what’s at stake. Moreover, changing administrations often result in one step forward, one step back; executive power, utilized productively under the previous president to uphold the law, has boomeranged as this president has abused it to dismantle most interior and perimeter enforcement.
Such whipsawing of our issue with each successive administration may worsen as our nation’s political divide widens. Recognizing that, we can never be content that “mission-accomplished” is defined as a four-year period in which gains are made, only to be subsequently lost.
When is the job done? Perhaps when the principles behind fair, practical, and effective immigration controls that preserve our sovereignty and advance America’s interests become normative, enshrined, and immutable public values, durable enough to withstand political vicissitudes and transcend ideology.
It’s a lofty goal but worth the fight. After all, we have a nation to save.