Who is actually a real American? Ruthless Criticism

Translated from GegenStandpunkt 4-10

The USA argues about its illegal aliens

Who is actually a real American?

For some years now, there has been growing dissatisfaction among those in power in the USA with the fact that millions of people are living on their territory – some for years or decades – who are not legally allowed to do so. Recently, the political debate about how to deal with this section of the population has escalated into a national policy debate. The immediate reason is a law passed by the state of Arizona which wants to deal with what it sees as the unsustainable flooding of Arizona with immigrants. The Obama administration has taken action against this law: it has obtained an injunction against the law from the Department of Justice; and it has cited its actions in a report to the UN on the state of human rights in the USA as evidence of its fight against discrimination and racism in its own country. Meanwhile, the nation is divided over how America should deal with illegal immigrants in the future.

I. The problem and its political management

The way the state deals with illegal immigrants has two sides:

On one side, the responsible authorities are doing everything they can to halt the influx of undesirables. For a few years now, the border with Mexico has been transformed into an increasingly impregnable fortress; controls have been stepped up, guards have been technically upgraded; even drones are now being used on the border, and only recently the Obama administration ordered troops from the National Guard to support local police. Self-appointed private border guards are patrolling the border in order to apprehend or, in case of doubt, shoot any wretched figure who still manages to reach the promised land. That’s one part of it.

However, once the “illegals” are here, the state authorities treat them with a peculiar mixture of toleration and persecution. They are always valued as workers; even today, entire sectors of the national economy are still based on their special cheapness and willingness. On this basis, they settle down, sending their children to school and to the doctor, forming their own communities. On the one hand, the authorities let them get away with it, but at the same time they repeatedly persecute them with raids and deport large numbers of people back across the border. Over the decades, this has resulted in the impressive figure of eleven million illegals now forming an integral part of the population, particularly in the southern states.


For several years now, the state supervisory authorities have been growing unhappy with their own mixture of pragmatism and persecution. Gradually, the political class in the USA has been working toward a definition of the problem which sees the state as having lost control of the illegal immigration situation and conditions on the border as having become intolerable; this must be brought back under its control.

Despite all the arguments about how this should be achieved, politicians of all colors agree that the further influx of illegals must be stopped. However, they disagree strongly on the question of how to deal with the people who have settled permanently in the USA with the status of illegality. The immigration law introduced by the Bush administration five years ago already failed because of this conflict.[1] The new rules, which were intended to open up a path to legalization for some illegal immigrants, went too far for conservative Republicans and the law came to nothing. Since then, progress has been made in solving the state’s problems, primarily in the field of containment and deterrence. The Obama administration is not only pushing ahead with the further upgrading of the border fence; under its aegis, the responsible federal authority is increasingly moving towards checking the payrolls of companies and fining them so that they fire their illegal workers or do not hire any in the first place.

The federal government’s measures are too lax for the governments of the southern states. They are using their own legislative powers to get the situation under control. In several states, for example, it has been a criminal offense for a few years now to employ illegal immigrants and rent apartments to them. The criminalization of economic dealings is intended to dry up the “morass” of Latino communities, which – according to the logic of the lawmakers – is what makes it possible for their illegal compatriots to settle in the country in the first place. The aim of these measures is to make it practically impossible for illegal immigrants to live in the USA: they are pressured to leave voluntarily or not come in the first place.


Last year, Arizona passed the law that is causing controversy across the nation:

“Gov. Jan Brewer of Arizona signed the nation’s toughest bill on illegal immigration into law on Friday.... It requires police officers, ‘when practicable,’ to detain people they reasonably suspect are in the country without authorization and to verify their status with federal officials.... It also makes it a state crime — a misdemeanor — to not carry immigration papers. In addition, it allows people to sue local government or agencies if they believe federal or state immigration law is not being enforced.” (New York Times, April 23, 2010)

The law makes it the official duty of Arizona officials to apprehend illegal residents wherever they may be found in order to deport them properly. To this end, all available measures are to be deployed to identify anyone suspected of being illegal as such: Any misdemeanor, such as speeding, should be enough in the future to arrest and detain people until state officials have determined the citizenship status of the person concerned. In this way, being present on US territory without authorization will in effect be elevated to the status of a criminal offense. Those suspected of illegality will be specifically discriminated against, degraded to “second-class citizens” on whom state authorities can practice their suspicions at will. And law abiding citizens will be encouraged to support the authorities in this endeavor to the best of their abilities or, if they suspect that the authorities are not properly fulfilling their duty in this regard, take action against them with their own criminal charges. The Arizona government has gone on record to state that it believes a different approach is needed in principle to keep thousands of people from crossing the border and settling in the land of the free. To this end, the Latino population is virtually being taken into racial custody: They have been identified as a segment of the population that, through their mass presence and family relations with the illegals, is contributing to the grievance that more and more people are settling in America who have no business being here.

The law triggers an outcry of indignation across the country. The government of Arizona is accused of “racial profiling,” i.e. open “racism,” and civil rights groups are calling for a boycott of Arizona as a vacation and conference destination.[2] The President himself has adopted this criticism. As much sympathy as Obama has for Arizona’s problems, he opposes the law with a firm “Not like that!”:

“States like Arizona have decided to take matters into their own hands.  Given the levels of frustration across the country, this is understandable.  But it is also ill conceived.  And it’s not just that the law Arizona passed is divisive … These laws also have the potential of violating the rights of innocent American citizens and legal residents, making them subject to possible stops or questioning because of what they look like or how they sound.  And as other states and localities go their own ways, we face the prospect that different rules for immigration will apply in different parts of the country -– a patchwork of local immigration rules where we all know one clear national standard is needed....Our task then is to make our national laws actually work -– to shape a system that reflects our values as a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants.” (Remarks by the President on Comprehensive Immigration Reform, July 1, 2010)

Harsh words: According to Obama, the law touches on elementary principles of the American legal system. It violates the rights of innocent citizens; and it jeopardizes the nation’s legal unity on the central issue of how the nation intends to solve its immigration problem. The President makes at least this much clear: Arizona’s policy approach is fundamentally inconsistent with his ideas about what the “national standard” should be that reflects America’s values “as a nation of immigrants.”

II. The illegals: part of the American people?

In the keynote speech quoted above, Obama explains how he sees the problem:

“Our borders have been porous for decades. Obviously, the problem is greatest along our Southern border … large numbers avoid immigration laws simply by overstaying their visas. The result is an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States. The overwhelming majority of these men and women are simply seeking a better life for themselves and their children.  Many settle in low-wage sectors of the economy; they work hard, they save, they stay out of trouble. But because they live in the shadows, they’re vulnerable to unscrupulous businesses who pay them less than the minimum wage or violate worker safety rules -– thereby putting companies who follow those rules, and Americans who rightly demand the minimum wage or overtime, at an unfair [dis]advantage.  Crimes go unreported as victims and witnesses fear coming forward.  And this makes it harder for the police to catch violent criminals and keep neighborhoods safe. And billions in tax revenue are lost each year because many undocumented workers are paid under the table....” (ibid)

That immigration from the South must be stopped; that eleven million illegal residents are enough for the USA, that the nation can no longer tolerate any more such people – the President sees this in exactly the same way as his colleague in Arizona.[3] Obama also shares their definition of the problem: that the illegal presence of so many people in the USA is a fundamental grievance that the nation must face up to and rectify. But that is where the common ground ends: The President fundamentally places the responsibility for this grievance elsewhere than Brewer and Co. While the latter blame the illegals for the national problem and take it out on them, Obama insists that the negative effects that the presence of these people has on America’s economy and public order are not due to them, but to their civic status: it is their illegality that allows them to be exploited as wage-squeezers and prevents them from being as good citizens as any other US resident. Obama concedes to the people themselves that the majority of them are no different than any normal American. After all, they too only want what the American constitution grants all people as a basic right: to achieve something in their “pursuit of happiness” through hard work and decency in their new homeland. This is how Obama makes an issue of the eleven million illegals: as actually a part of the people and the economic and social life of the USA, the majority of whom have long been integrated. To want to segregate these people and chase them away therefore violates all the valid principles in the nation about living together:

“… to round up and deport 11 million people... Such an effort would be logistically impossible and wildly expensive. Moreover, it would tear at the very fabric of this nation -– because immigrants who are here illegally are now intricately woven into that fabric. Many have children who are American citizens. Some are children themselves,.. Migrant workers -– mostly here illegally -– have been the labor force of our farmers and agricultural producers for generations. So even if it was possible, a program of mass deportations would disrupt our economy and communities in ways that most Americans would find intolerable.” (ibid.)

With the prospect of “mass deportations” (if certain associations come to mind for some listeners, the president is surely only correct...), the President paints a picture of the extent of the damage that threatens the nation should it decide to pursue a policy of segregating this section of the population. Removing them altogether would not only be unfair to the people and damaging to the economy; the elementary social cohesion of the country would be exposed to an intolerable division if part of its population were treated in this way. It is precisely this perspective of national division that the President sees as being put on the national agenda by laws such as the Arizona’s. In contrast, he is pursuing a program of comprehensive reform of the entire immigration system:

“Our task then is to make our national laws actually work... We should make it easier for the best and the brightest to come to start businesses and develop products and create jobs... We need to provide farms a legal way to hire the workers they rely on, and a path for those workers to earn legal status. And we should stop punishing innocent young people for the actions of their parents by denying them the chance to stay here and earn an education and contribute their talents to build the country where they’ve grown up. The DREAM Act would do this.” (ibid.)

With the new version of the “DREAM Act” (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors), Obama makes it clear how he envisions a constructive way of solving the illegal immigrant problem. The law is intended to open up new ways for illegal residents under 35 who have done well and are otherwise among the “best and brightest” or are at least "needed" as farm workers to obtain American citizenship:

“There are an estimated 1.9 million undocumented children and young adults in the United States who might be eligible for legal status under the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act (DREAM) Act. For many of these young people, the United States is the only home they know and English is their first language. Each year, tens of thousands of them graduate from primary or secondary school, often at the top of their classes. They have the potential to be future doctors, nurses, teachers, and entrepreneurs, but they experience unique hurdles to achieving success in this country. Through no fault of their own, their lack of status may prevent them from attending college or working legally. The DREAM Act would provide an opportunity for them to live up to their full potential and make greater contributions to the U.S. economy and society.” (American Immigration Council, November 18, 2010)

The supporters of the law advertise the positive return that the nation can expect from incorporating young foreigners: rightly seen, young people without residence permits are all promising hopefuls of the “American Dream” who are on the go, working their way up for their own well being and that of their new homeland. The nation would be depriving itself of potential if it were to deport such promising people who have already proven themselves in school and community. That is why the law seeks to give “aliens” who have grown up in America the opportunity to earn citizenship status: Based on a temporary legalization of their residency, they should be able to earn US citizenship by completing a college education or a two-year service duty in the Army.

This is the constructive counter-program that Obama is putting forward to counter the exclusionary policies of the state of Arizona and other opponents: There is agreement that further immigration is “a problem” that must be dealt with at the border. However, instead of attacking the illegal immigrants already in the country, calling the entire legal system into question and jeopardizing national cohesion, it is precisely the opposite that needs to be done, opening up ways in which America can reliably secure those who already are a de facto part of its people, who it can use as such and therefore wants to have. Instead of tearing the nation apart with economically nonsensical and politically and ethically questionable “deportations,” Obama wants to rebuild it by incorporating the potential of previously illegal immigrants as a resource for America; he accuses the current “fragile” system of immigration of preventing precisely this. Therefore, it is not new barriers that need to be erected, but rather counterproductive barriers that the state places in the way of those who want to and can make themselves useful to the economy and the nation.


Obama’s line has a catch: in order for his political opponents – and the citizens of America – to understand the benefits that Obama promises the society from the incorporation of illegals, they must first accept that such people should belong to this community at all. On this issue, the government is facing fierce opposition from a section of the political class and also has the majority of voters against it. Politicians in Arizona and elsewhere have no sympathy with Obama’s point of view, according to which illegal immigrants are in principle already part of America, whose members are only having their way paved through legalization procedures to becoming proper citizens. No matter how much Obama and co. insist that only those people who are “in good standing” will be accepted, that they must admit to breaking the law and pay a fine before they are admitted to the legalization process, etc. etc., Obama’s opponents simply do not share his diagnosis that the nation is missing out on the potential of these people. Their definition of harm is quite different: they find it intolerable that American society has to look after, educate, nurse and, in cases of doubt, even feed people who do not belong to it. This is the image that local officials have acquired of this part of the population and which they document in the laws with which they harass illegals and their helpers in the Latino communities. Where Obama discovers the industriousness and modesty of potential Americans, those responsible on the ground only see the life opportunities offered in the USA being inadmissably exploited by foreigners. They do not see these people as a contribution to the American economy and society to be mobilized, but rather as a nuisance and a burden, a hotbed of harmful competition and disorderly crime. In their social cohesion, they represent a prime example of communal un-American activities and bring unrest and discord into the country.[4] From there, it’s easy to detect behaviors in Latinos that show that it’s their fault if the American nation doesn’t want them in its midst. After all, they themselves prove that they do not want to be good Americans: When they send their modest incomes “home” to support the impoverished people there, when they cultivate their own language instead of learning English – this only shows that they are not contributing to America at all, but want to remain among themselves, that they are and will remain a foreign body in the country.

The local office holders therefore do not see the state as having failed in dealing with this section of the population because these people have not been provided with access to legal residency to date, but quite the opposite: they accuse themselves and preceding administrations of having given these people much too much freedom to act as part of the people, even though they are not. With this in mind, the Arizona Senate recently abolished Spanish as a second official language. The pragmatism of a state authority that wanted to get its decrees through to the growing number of its Spanish-speaking citizens is now seen, now that these figures have been identified as undesirable foreigners, as a concession that must be reversed at all costs. This is the spirit on which laws like Arizona’s new immigration law are based. If Spanish speaking immigrants are defined as foreign bodies and a morass of illegality, suspected as such of being un-American, then a police officer who stops a Latino and asks about his right to exist cannot in principle be mistaken – even if he may be wrong in individual cases.

Some politicians take a very fundamental view: namely, that the nation has brought upon itself the problem of having to deal with un-American people through its constitutional and citizenship laws. Because children born in the USA to illegal immigrants automatically become US citizens, numerous families are created in which the children have legal residency status while their parents remain illegal. The Obama administration also wants to remedy this abuse by legalizing the parents of such children. His opponents, on the other hand, simply want to remove the legal basis for this by amending the constitution. In their view, the 14th Amendment[5] deprives the nation of its freedom to pick and choose the people it wants as new citizens, so it should not be surprised at the steady growth of un-American populations.[6] Therefore, the principle that every child born on US territory to parents of any race or nationality acquires US citizenship should be abolished. To achieve this goal on a national level, politicians from 15 states have founded an organization called “State Legislators for Legal Immigration.”

The federal government and the individual states are therefore working in competition with each other in their opposing solutions to the illegal immigrant problem. They agree on one thing: the question of whether America gets rid of these people or, conversely, manages to sort them out and integrate them properly is about more than just the status of these people. This question is the political battle over how the nation generally defines and treats its people.

III. The USA – a nation of immigrants?

Obama wants his concept of immigration reform to be understood as the implementation of the valid principles of the relationship between people and nation on which the USA has always relied and must continue to rely:

“The tensions around immigration are not new. On the one hand, we’ve always defined ourselves as a nation of immigrants – a nation that welcomes those willing to embrace America’s precepts... So this steady stream of hardworking and talented people has made America the engine of the global economy and a beacon of hope around the world. And it’s allowed us to adapt and thrive in the face of technological and societal change. To this day, America reaps incredible economic rewards because we remain a magnet for the best and brightest from across the globe... Immigration also means we have a younger workforce – and a faster-growing economy – than many of our competitors. ..Being an American is not a matter of blood or birth. It’s a matter of faith. It’s a matter of fidelity to the shared values that we all hold so dear. That’s what makes us unique. That’s what makes us strong...Now, we can’t forget that this process of immigration and eventual inclusion has often been painful. Each new wave of immigrants has generated fear and resentments towards newcomers, particularly in times of economic upheaval....And that remains true today.” (ibid.)

Obama is not satisfied with the accusation that a wrong immigration policy damages the legal system, divides the nation and puts obstacles in the way of the use of an urgently needed national potential. In his view, his opponents are fundamentally screwing up the nation’s path to success with their approach: as Obama wants to remind his opponents, this has always been based on the constant influx of hard-working people which has given America “huge advantages” over its competitors and made the USA a major power in the “global economy.” The fact that immigrants are struggling to compete and have long provided domestic capital with a “faster growing economy” than the rest of the world has nothing to do directly with “beliefs” and “values.” However, Obama considers it appropriate to credit the newcomers with the capitalist benefits to the nation as the fruit of their patriotism and to uphold their struggle for an income for survival and competitive success as the solid core of their American identity, even in times when a crisis is once again “upending” the country a little.

In this respect, the opponents of his policy are wrong with their “fear and rejection” of the illegals and, in his view, have not understood what kind of “a people” Americans are, what constitutes and makes America productive as a nation: Their will to make the best of themselves and the opportunities afforded them in their new homeland. In this way, the nation includes all its inhabitants in its community of success. And that is a good thing: Applying these principles, says Obama, is precisely what gives the American nation its reliable basis for increasing its wealth and power. It should continue to do so in the future.

His opponents are no less fundamentalist. Since the financial crisis hit, they deny the usefulness of Latinos more vehemently than ever; for them, including Latinos in the national collective represents an attack on the national unity that makes America great and strong. As for the definition of this national unity, they see the issue based on the same brutal equation that Obama sets up, only the other way around: a real American ultimately makes his own success, unless unfairness or bad policy in Washington prevents him from doing so. It is easy to see that the impoverished masses, especially the Latin American immigrants who have achieved nothing despite the government giving them so much, do not belong here. Even their customs, habits and language show that they are foreign here, which is why they should not be tolerated in the country. They are not real Americans, and Obama’s right wing opponents consider the administration’s agitation that they are not yet Americans because they lack citizenship to be a shameful campaign of lies. Hispanics may want to become Americans – many of them do – but they aren’t. The people, then, are those who belong here and have always given their best. They are the legally, practically, and morally established basis of the nation, its reliable foundation; the leaders of the right wing opposition see themselves as their political representatives and therefore see only a serious disturbance to this community if foreigners are admitted to it. Where Obama insists that the nation has still managed to make newcomers into its people and strengthen the nation with them, his opponents simply dismiss the whole issue. They are certain that the nation has no use for them.


This controversy about which and how many foreigners the USA can tolerate and should take in is not new; it has accompanied the “nation of immigrants” since its foundation. In times of crisis, the question has always been raised as to whether the numerous newcomers are not already too many for the nation. Such concerns were then eased, and stricter regulations were relaxed when the economy picked up again. The aspect of the ethnic composition of immigrants was also never foreign to the American state: That different ethnicities were better or worse suited to adapting to the “American way of life” and becoming a useful part of the nation; that something like a “balance” of the various ethnic groups had to be maintained; also that too many idealistic representatives of possibly hostile nations of origin should not be brought into the country – such viewpoints have always played a role when it came to how the USA should manage immigration so that the various ethnic groups actually become one people. On the whole, however, the USA has always managed to make the “melting pot” work in the interests of state power: that the mixture of peoples became the productive and reliable basis of the nation that state power wanted. The reason for this is banal: By and large, it just worked out, with more and more masses being recruited by a capital that knew how to combine their labor power with the natural potencies of the country; the practical recruitment provided the reliable basis for the loyalty of the respective newly immigrated Americans to the new rule they had chosen for themselves.

The debate over the number and composition of immigrants that has now broken out within the American leadership, on the other hand, leads to a fundamental question: When Obama invokes the nation’s secret of success by recalling the nation’s history as a “country of immigrants,” one which the nation needs to refocus on; and when his opponents counter that, on the contrary, the nation is threatened with further material and non-material damage if it does not get rid of the foreigners on its territory as quickly as possible; when both sides accuse each other of dividing the nation – then both sides are referring to a national situation in which the state power has lost the certainty of success with which it has hitherto used its people as the basis and means of its wealth and power. Obviously, for the nation’s leaders, the basic equation that the people who are at home on American territory will, in principle, be good for something, is not merely currently and temporarily called into question. Rather, the leadership is questioning the extent to which the USA’s previous recipes for success are still generally good in this respect. If the same state power that yesterday was careless in its treatment of illegal immigrants because all interested parties – with the exception of immigrants – could live with it, today discovers a national problem of the first order in this section of the population, then it is documenting precisely this: That it can no longer and will no longer rely on the self-evident usefulness of its people, but rather feels compelled to take a new look at its basis. Because the American government also regards its people as a resource and a guarantee and legal title to success, if this fails to materialize, the question arises as to the state of the people, its faults and shortcomings, as well as the quality of its use by the state. In the debate about the status of illegal immigrants, Obama is relying on their incorporation in order to channel the desperate will to survive and competitive ambition which he claims to have discovered in immigrants as specific virtues of success into the mills of a new American upswing. He accuses those who want to prevent him from doing so of wanting to leave the USA’s tried and tested path to success in times of crisis and thus harming the nation. The opposing party criticizes the millions of illegal immigrants as alien to the people and the efforts to incorporate them as un-American activities that fundamentally threaten the cohesion of the people and the state. Thus, the parties to the dispute on the question of the illegals reproach each other for violating the elementary principles on which the state is supposed to base its power over the people in the first place, and for endangering the moral community and the cohesion of the nation to which the state is entitled in all its undertakings.

IV. Immigration policy – example and evidence in the fundamental dispute over the success and decline of the nation

With its report to the UN, the Obama administration is even elevating the national dispute over the treatment of immigrants to the level of an international dispute over principles of the highest human rights, which are said to be threatened by the law passed by the state of Arizona:

“In a first-ever report to the UN on conditions in the USA, the State Department found that some Americans, especially minorities, continue to be victims of discrimination ... The report states that although the US now has an African-American president and women and Hispanics are more successful socially and economically, large segments of American society still suffer from unfair policies and practices. High unemployment rates, hate crimes, poverty, poor housing conditions, lack of access to health care were among the challenges affecting Blacks, Latinos, Muslims, Asians, Native Americans, gays and lesbians in the United States ... The US also cited its legal challenge to Arizona's law on a list of measures the central government is taking to protect human rights.” (WP, August 23, 2010; August 27, 2010)

The report places the Arizona law in a series of discriminatory practices affecting minorities in the USA, as an example of a bad principle that pervades American social life as a whole and which the Obama administration has set out to combat. The government is thus making it clear that its objection to the law is about more than just enforcing a different interpretation of the law in this specific case. It wants to use the incident to achieve a fundamental clarification of the question of how the American nation should treat its various ethnic groups and how it should refrain from doing so. The message is that Obama stands for America’s good, productive tradition of organizing the nation’s social life; his opponents stand for a bad and harmful one that prevents America from fully developing its potential. To prove this point, the report is not afraid to cite the president’s racial affiliation as evidence that America is headed in the right direction. Symbolically, it may well be understood that Obama embodies in his person the non-discriminatory interpretation of human rights: as practical proof that America is moving forward and that race and origin no longer play a role, but only the will and ability to make it.

The Obama administration follows the same line when it presents the objection to the Arizona law to the UN as a “case” of correct American human rights policy. The principles of equality and justice, which the administration believes have been violated by the Arizona law, are part of the canon of values that can and should apply not only in America, but throughout the world. The American government wants to be measured against this standard when it submits the case to the highest supervisory body in matters of human rights in the pose of the protector of the noblest goods. This is to prove that America is on the right track: also in the question of how the USA’s leading role in the world can be re-established. According to Obama, in order to regain this leadership role, the USA must serve as a role model for the rest of the world – also and especially when it comes to the state’s treatment of its people. Only if the USA leads by example and sets a practical example for others to follow can the nation claim leadership in the world of states not only because of its power, but also because of its ethical qualities. The federal legal authority takes the same line: the Department of Justice is allowing the Latin American states to submit a document for a hearing on Arizona’s law. In this way, the Obama administration documents its respect for the desire of other nations to have a say when it comes to the rights and status of their citizens in a foreign country.[7]


The Arizona government reacts with corresponding indignation. The federal government’s injunction violates its fundamental right to effectively combat the emergency of illegal immigration in its jurisdiction – local sheriffs defiantly state they will apply the incriminated practice of checking suspects in any case, injunction or not. The governor finds it even more outrageous that the government is turning her law into a case for the UN:

“Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer on Friday demanded that a reference to the law be removed from the State Department report on ways the federal government is protecting human rights. ‘It is “downright offensive” that a state law would be included in the report, Brewer ...wrote. ‘The idea of our own American government submitting the duly enacted laws of a state of the United States to “review” by the United Nations is internationalism run amok and unconstitutional,’ she said.” (Fox News August 30, 2010)

Brewer finds it equally unbelievable that foreign governments are allowed to add their two cents to an internal American dispute:

“As do many citizens, I find it incredibly offensive that these foreign governments are using our court system to meddle in a domestic legal dispute and to oppose the rule of law.” (Politico, August 6, 2010)

By pointing out that the law was duly passed, Brewer also wants to put more on record than a formal legal position. For her, the fact that the law was passed by a freely elected American senate proves that it is in line with the highest values of the nation and humanity; after all, the USA is and remains the nation that sets standards in matters of human rights and is not subject to them. Not only does the USA not need to justify its treatment of its people to any supranational bodies; it must not if it doesn’t want to ultimately lose the respect of the world of states for its superior power. In Brewer's eyes, Obama’s diplomatic bow to the UN subjugates sovereign America to the authority of an internationalist, i.e. un-American, body and thus betrays the highest values of the American constitution. This is “internationalism run amok,” in other words: Under Obama’s aegis, the nation is becoming a pawn in the hands of foreign interests; foreign powers are being granted the right to interfere in America’s internal affairs – although it is clear that only the USA is entitled to this kind of interference. According to this view, any legitimization of state measures before a foreign authority is a sign of weakness: this only opens the door to America's enemies and forfeits America’s leadership role. In the eyes of Brewer and her fellow campaigners, Obama’s disregard for the rights and freedoms of a genuinely American decision-making body exposes the President as a figure who plays into the hands of America’s enemies – both internal and external – and ultimately as a traitor to the nation. Just as Obama cites the color of his own skin as proof that America is improving under him, his racial affiliation provides his opponents with the ultimate reason for his un-American policies, with which he is destroying the nation – which is why certain circles suspect that this man himself is not an American at all...


This is how fundamental national leaders become when they realize that the nation is in decline and feel challenged to turn this situation around. The state power of the USA is confronted with the fact that the nation's wealth is dwindling, its wars are dragging on with no prospect of success and its global political supremacy is increasingly being attacked and undermined by other powers. The political leadership team of the USA is taking a stand against this and is tasked with restoring the global political status of the USA; to do this, the nation’s powers must be revitalized internally and national interests must be asserted more successfully externally. For this reason, the political leadership necessarily feels the need to prepare the people anew for the service they have to render for the restoration of American power. This also leads to the self-criticism that perhaps not enough has been done to create the conditions for success under which the people could once again make useful and reliable contributions to the nation’s recovery. As a result, immigration policy is also coming back into the political spotlight: as an area of national policy in which state power has let things slide, where clarity is finally needed on the question of who is actually American and who is not, i.e. who is allowed to make themselves useful to America and who is not.

From the brutally functionalist point of view of state power, the situation is as simple as this: Because the masses are the state’s resource, the way in which it organizes them also determines how well they serve as the nation’s means of success. This raises the question of whether the renewal of America would be better served by the state finally turning its illegal population into fully-fledged, useful members of the national body; or by getting rid of these people once and for all as useless burdens and troublemakers. It is no wonder that the political factions in the USA are fundamentally at odds over this issue. There are fanatics of national success on both sides. Both sides are also united by the firm conviction that America only needs to reflect on its true strengths in order to halt its decline and get back on the road to success.

[1] See GegenStandpunkt 2-2006: Homeland Security in den USA: Zero tolerance for illegals

[2] “‘This should also be a warning to other states, especially those that rely on tourism and conferences and conventions, that this has economic consequences,’ said Angela Kelly, vice president of the Center for American Progress.” (Boston Globe, Nov. 19, 2010)

[3] In the same speech, Obama praises himself for his administration’s border security measures – as an additional argument that none of this solves the immigration issue: “Today, we have more boots on the ground near the Southwest border than at any time in our history... We doubled the personnel assigned to Border Enforcement Security Task Forces. We tripled the number of intelligence analysts along the border. For the first time, we’ve begun screening 100 percent of southbound rail shipments. And as a result, we’re seizing more illegal guns, cash and drugs than in years past. Contrary to some of the reports that you see, crime along the border is down. And statistics collected by Customs and Border Protection reflect a significant reduction in the number of people trying to cross the border illegally. So the bottom line is this: The southern border is more secure today than at any time in the past 20 years.”

[4] With this in mind, Republican politicians are launching a media campaign against the DREAM Act, accusing the government of using the law to reward criminals who have been taking advantage of their host country’s generosity at the expense of American taxpayers for years – an invitation to new illegals!

[5] “14th Amendment, Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” The original aim of the constitutional amendment was to make it impossible for individual states to effectively reverse the abolition of slavery by denying citizenship rights to former slaves.

[6] Critics say the (14th Amendment) is “an irresistible lure to illegal immigrants — and needs to be revised. ‘People come here to have babies,’ Graham said. ‘They come here to drop a child — it's called drop and leave...’ … Leading Republicans, including Sen. John McCain of Arizona and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, in calling for Senate hearings on whether changes to the 14th Amendment are needed … say not only are tourists taking advantage of the automatic citizenship clause, but so are illegal immigrants who use their citizen children to petition for legal residency. Many refer to these children of illegal immigrants as ‘anchor babies.’” (National Public Radio, Aug. 5, 2010)

[7] “The states argue that the law could harm citizens of their country who live and work in Arizona and could damage bilateral economic, migration and security relations between the US and these countries.” (The Californian, Nov. 17, 2010)