Immigration and the Rule of Law

Gavel, scales of justice and law booksWhen it suits their purposes, mainstream media pundits are fond of pointing out that the United States is a nation founded on “the rule of law.” The comment is usually offered up in support of some overly broad argument in favor of legislation contracting a fundamental liberty. However, very few talking heads seem to have any idea what a commitment to the rule of law really means.

In a nutshell: The rule of law is the principle that everyone in the United States should be held accountable to a uniform body of laws that is fairly applied and enforced. But the rule of law is under assault in the United States. Certain segments of the American population – specifically political, media and academic elites – have come to believe that they are free to disregard immigration law as they see fit.

Witness the editorial called “Proud to be a Sanctuary City” that recently appeared in the opinion pages of the New York Times. The piece claims that, if the Trump administration attempts to enforce immigration law, the “proper” response is for state and local governments to implement sanctuary policies in defiance of federal law. In other words, the Times is arguing that American political leaders should just disregard the very roots of American order – constitutionalism, federalism, and the rule of law. That sounds more like the Venezuelan approach than the American way.

But the message the Times is sending stands in stark contrast to the views held by most regular folks in the United States. The American people know that a commitment to observing the rule of law creates the conditions required for harmony and prosperity. They also understand that one can’t begin selectively discarding whatever body of laws one might happen to dislike. When that happens, the entire legal framework collapses like a house of cards.

Immigration was one of the key issues in this year’s presidential election specifically because Americans value the rule of law. Donald Trump recognized that average Americans are beyond frustrated with the failure to secure our nation’s borders and the image of lawlessness that failure presents to the rest of the world. As such, the recent election was as much a referendum on the rule of law as it was a plebiscite on immigration.

About Author


Matthew J. O’Brien joined the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) in 2016. Matt is responsible for managing FAIR’s research activities. He also writes content for FAIR’s website and publications. Over the past twenty years he has held a wide variety of positions focusing on immigration issues, both in government and in the private sector. Immediately prior to joining FAIR Matt served as the Chief of the National Security Division (NSD) within the Fraud Detection and National Security Directorate (FDNS) at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), where he was responsible for formulating and implementing procedures to protect the legal immigration system from terrorists, foreign intelligence operatives, and other national security threats. He has also held positions as the Chief of the FDNS Policy and Program Development Unit, as the Chief of the FDNS EB-5 Division, as Assistant Chief Counsel with U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement, as a Senior Advisor to the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman, and as a District Adjudications Officer with the legacy Immigration & Naturalization Service. In addition, Matt has extensive experience as a private bar attorney. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in French from the Johns Hopkins University and a Juris Doctor from the University of Maine School of Law.


  1. avatar

    Where have Hillary and Obama been on the subject of the Berlin terrorism, as far as their usual “this has nothing to do with Islam”? In other words, their “don’t believe your lyin’ eyes” act. I guess maybe it’s because after the umpteenth time, they begin to look a little ridiculous.

    It did not get nearly as much attention, because it was stopped, but five men of mid-East origin living in Australia were arrested in a plot to bomb landmarks in Melbourne on Christmas. I saw the brother of one defending his actions by saying he was “fighting for his religion”. This is the problem. Not just the actual attackers but those who are sympathetic to them and unlikely to inform the cops. In spite of the portrayal of the Boston bombers as “lone wolves”, three of their friends were convicted of assisting them after the attacks.

    A reporter was asking Trump if his comments about Islam “were not promoting more attacks”. I guess these people have no memory of the past. We’ve been under these attacks, some stopped some not, for decades. I guess Trump is responsible for that too.

    Interesting to watch Fakebook promoting their “fact checkers”, which have a decidedly liberal bent. Has everyone forgotten that they got caught about a year ago deliberately downplaying conservative stories by moving them down in the “trending” list even when they had more clicks than others. But when was Mark Zuckerberg ever honest? Just look at all the people he messed over to get where he is.

    • avatar

      Zuckerberg Wants Amnesty

      For cheap high tech “foreign” slaves doing high school level computer programming [while our high school graduates are 50% unemployed, college degreed underemployed]….then uses fake news to promote his tech needs in the level of degreed engineers….LOL

      High Tech= Organized Crime in general.

  2. avatar

    Passing legislation making e-verify mandatory would make sanctuary cities irrelevant. Take the jobs away from illegal aliens and they will cease to come.

  3. avatar

    We have immigration laws, they just need to be enforced immediately, and Trump needs to hold true to his campaign promises. I am counting on him to start deporting on day one. If President Clinton can deport 12.8 million, Trump can deport 20 million. Trains Planes Boats and Buses leave everyday.

  4. avatar

    Amazing that the supposedly smart people at the New York Times are proud they are a sanctuary city. One would think that they would have learned something from the catastrophic 9/11 attacks, especially given that NYC remains at the top of the list, along with DC, as a target for terrorists. Everyone at the New York Times should be presented with honorary Darwin Awards.

    • avatar

      It also is amazing that GW Bush administrative policy required that FBI agents could not discriminate or single out ethnic groups with legal or illegal status. The fear of political correctness provided precisely the opportunity the 9/11 terrorists needed to succeed in their mission. This is still going on today. Obama administration has wiped out the data base of immigrant men in their twenties from known terror sponsored countries.

  5. avatar

    I live in a sanctuary city, San Francisco and it sucks. I wish they had a sanctuary policy against enforcement of federal tax laws. That would save me a bundle!