“The Law is The Law”

Many people claim to have nothing against immigrants to the USA, yet they zealously oppose all illegal immigration. The law is the law, they say, and everyone should obey it.

I am wondering whether had their time and place been different, these strict legal beagles would also have supported vigorous enforcement of the U.S. fugitive slave acts of the antebellum era and the German anti-Jewish laws of the 1930s. After all, these obscene legislative acts had as much legality as today’s U.S. immigration laws.

In my view, saying that “the law is the law and must be obeyed” regardless of other considerations is tantamount to a confession of moral vacuity.

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Robert Higgs is Senior Fellow in Political Economy at the Independent Institute and Editor at Large of the Institute’s quarterly journal The Independent Review. He received his Ph.D. in economics from Johns Hopkins University, and he has taught at the University of Washington, Lafayette College, Seattle University, the University of Economics, Prague, and George Mason University. He has been a visiting scholar at Oxford University and Stanford University, and a fellow at the Hoover Institution and the National Science Foundation.