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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 7/9/19

The Declaration of Independence Applies to Immigrants

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From The Future Of Freedom Foundation

United States Declaration of Independence.
United States Declaration of Independence.
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Now that the Fourth of July celebrations are over, it's worth asking whether a particular phrase enunciated in the Declaration of Independence is true or false.

The phrase in question? "The pursuit of happiness." The Declaration states that the pursuit of happiness is a natural, God-given right, one with which all people are endowed. Not just American citizens. Everyone. Everyone in the world is endowed with the natural, God-given right to pursue happiness.

A natural, God-given right is one that precedes the existence of government. As the Declaration points out, such a right is unalienable. That means that it can never be taken away, at least not legitimately.

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The Declaration also makes clear that it is the responsibility of government to protect the exercise of such rights, not destroy or infringe upon them. In fact, as the Declaration also points out, when government becomes destructive of the legitimate rights of people, it is the right of people to alter or even abolish it and institute new government.

Obviously, everyone includes people who are citizens of other countries. Everyone in the world is endowed with the natural, God-given right to pursue happiness. That's what the Declaration observes.

If it's true, and I certainly believe it is, then why is the federal government arresting, punishing, and deporting foreigners who are pursuing happiness by coming to the United States?

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Yes, I know the answer: "Jacob, we have a system of immigration controls." But let's keep in mind something important: Natural, God-given rights precede government, and government possesses no legitimate authority to destroy or infringe upon such rights. If government can destroy a natural, God-given right by simply enacting a law, such as an immigration control law, then it really isn't a natural, God-given right after all. A natural, God-given right cannot be destroyed or infringed upon by any man-made law.

Consider, for example, the natural, God-given right of freedom of religion. People have the the right to worship God any way they choose, or not to worship God. What if the federal government enacted a law that required parents to send their children to church every Sunday, much like the states do with public (i.e., government) schooling? We would all agree that the law would be illegitimate. That's because the federal government cannot legitimately interfere with the exercise of a natural, God-given right.

Yes, I know that the First Amendment to the Constitution expressly prohibits the federal government from interfering with freedom of religion. But even if that amendment had never been enacted, it would still be illegitimate for the federal government to destroy or infringe upon people's natural, God-given right of freedom of religion. The First Amendment simply enacts that restriction into law.

What if the federal government required all foreigners who visit the United States to send their children to church on Sunday? Again, that would be an illegitimate exercise of governmental power. Everyone, not just foreigners, has the natural, God-given right of freedom of religion, the exercise of which government cannot legitimately interfere.

Moreover, we shouldn't forget the Ninth Amendment, which expressly points out that there are other rights that people have that are not expressly enumerated in the Constitution. It would be reasonable to assume that among those unenumerated rights is one expressly mentioned in the Declaration of Independence the right to pursue happiness, a right that adheres to all men and women regardless of citizenship.

The Declaration of Independence points out that everyone possesses the natural, God-given to pursue happiness. That obviously includes foreigners, including immigrants are pursuing happiness by coming to the United States. If we are going to celebrate the Declaration every year, it's important that we adhere to its principles.

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Jacob Hornberger Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He (more...)
 

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3 people are discussing this page, with 3 comments  Post Comment


Old Codger

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Despite the lofty premises raised by the author, let's break it down a bit further. Yes, the pursuit of happiness is guaranteed, but the 'people' are also afforded the right to determine how their tax money is to be spent. There is no language that states the right to pursue happiness shall be funded by the tax payers. Those who are seeking admission to the States are unable to individually fund their pursuit of happiness. Instead, they are automatically becoming the beneficiaries of the largese of the American taxpayer. (Education, housing,health care, WIC, food stamps, etc.) They (the immigrants) can pursue their version and vision of happiness as long as it doesn't cost the tax payers any thing. That's what we have immigration laws for - to protect the American citizens. So, Mr. Hornberger, your idea and argument just doesn't hold water.

Submitted on Tuesday, Jul 9, 2019 at 1:51:51 PM

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Derryl Hermanutz

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In his book, The Examined Life, the US philosopher Robert Nozick observes that we do not become happy by pursuing happiness. We become happy by doing what is required to make our life - and the lives of our families and those around us - meaningful, and as comfortable and secure as we can manage. Happiness is a byproduct of living a good life. My wife points out that we do not have a happy life, We have happy moments within the day-to-day business of living our lives. Little things - like fixing a leaky pipe, or cooking and eating a nice meal, or enjoying a good morning hug - make us happy, then we move along with our day. The idea of pursuing s permanent state of blissful idiot happiness as the highest or only goal of life is just stupid. The idea that somebody else should pay for your pursuit of happiness is even stupider.

Submitted on Tuesday, Jul 9, 2019 at 9:58:21 PM

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Paul Cohen

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I know that the First Amendment to the Constitution expressly prohibits the federal government from interfering with freedom of religion.


But what qualifies as religion?

Submitted on Wednesday, Jul 10, 2019 at 1:36:22 PM

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