Judge Napolitano on Immigration as a Right
Everyone’s favorite natural rights night-watchman has a new column up at Reason on the freedom on travel:
The natural law is a term used to refer to human rights that all persons possess by virtue of our humanity. These rights encompass areas of human behavior where individuals are sovereign and thus need no permission from the government before making choices in those areas.
Thus, since the freedom of speech, the development of personality, the right to worship or not to worship, the right to use technologically contemporary means for self-defense, the right to be left alone, and the right to own and use property all stem from our humanity, the government simply is without authority to regulate human behavior in these areas, no matter what powers it purports to give to itself and no matter what crises may occur. Among the rights in this category is the freedom of movement, which today is called the right to travel.
The right to travel is an individual personal human right, long recognized under the natural law as immune from governmental interference. Of course, governments have been interfering with this right for millennia. The Romans restricted the travel of Jews; Parliament restricted the travel of serfs; Congress restricted the travel of slaves; and starting in the late 19th century, the federal government has restricted the travel of non-Americans who want to come here and even the travel of those already here. All of these abominable restrictions of the right to travel are based not on any culpability of individuals, but rather on membership in the groups to which persons have belonged from birth.
The initial reasons for these immigration restrictions involved the different appearance and culture of those seeking to come here and the nativism of those running the government here. Somehow, the people who ran the government believed that they who were born here were superior persons and more worthy of American-style freedoms than those who sought to come here. This extols nativism.
Nativism is the arch-enemy of the freedom to travel, as its adherents believe they can use the coercive power of the government to impair the freedom of travel of persons who are unwanted not because of personal behavior, but solely on the basis of where they were born. Nativism teaches that we lack natural rights and enjoy only those rights the government permits us to exercise.
Our fundamental human rights are not conditioned or even conditionable on the laws or traditions of the place where our mothers were physically located when we were born.
Americans are not possessed of more natural rights than non-Americans; rather, we enjoy more opportunities to exercise those rights because the government is theoretically restrained by the Constitution, which explicitly recognizes the natural law. That recognition is articulated in the Ninth Amendment, which declares that the enumeration of certain rights in the Constitution shall not be used by the government as an excuse to deny or disparage other unnamed and unnamable rights retained by the people.
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