- The Washington Times - Friday, March 16, 2007

Understanding the Second Amendment

The column from Jacob Sullum (“Second wind for the Second,” Commentary, yesterday) was straightforward and to the point, and as an argument has not been directly addressed by opponents of gun rights. Opponents will claim the right to bear arms is not an individual right, but never address directly how a right that is ascribed to the people can be for the state’s government in the Second Amendment, where as all the other rights mentioned in the Bill of Rights that are for “the people” can be individual rights and not for the states or federal governments.

William G. Garrett (“The Second Amendment and freedom,” letters, yesterday) is one of many who still insist the intention of the Founding Father was simply to man a military force, and ignore the historical foundation upon which the Second Amendment rests, and the arguments of the Founders in the debates leading up to the adoption of the Bill of Rights. Historically, the Second Amendment is referenced back to basic rights of British Subjects, which under the Magna Carta signed after 1066 AD and the upheaval in the British Commonwealth, recognized an inherent right of citizens to carry arms for defense of self, hearth, home and nation. This right is so basic as to stand even now, and will stand in perpetuity, as will the rights to free speech, protest, and all other rights recognized in the Bill of Rights.

The Bill of Rights specifically recognizes rights of citizens, and proscribes specifically the rights and outlines the obligations, of government. These rights come not from government, but our Creator. They are above the meddling of man. The Bill of Rights also tells us that any right not enumerated in the Bill of Rights is reserved for the states and the people, mentioned separately. It is apparent from the language and construction of our founding documents, that America was intended to be a nation of individuals whose freedom and liberty was of paramount importance.

Opponents of Second Amendment rights are either ignorant, or enemies of that freedom.

NORMAN HENDRICKSON

Bowie, Md.

Enforcing immigration laws

President Bush recently proclaimed on a trip to Mexico that it is impractical to remove the estimated 11 million illegal aliens currently trespassing inside the United States (“Bush ‘optimistic’ on immigration reform,” Page 1, Thursday). Mr. Bush is wrong. He is not alone.

Despite the “Me thinks thou dost protest too much” refrain of people from the Wall Street Journal to the Council de la Raza, it would actually be quite simple to stimulate illegal aliens to deport themselves voluntarily. It would take some time. But it would not be hard. How? Many changes in the law could help greatly, but here are steps using existing laws:

First, we simply need the Social Security Administration (SSA) to report social security number mis-matches. The dirty little secret of illegal immigration is that it involves identity theft. A job applicant who illegally applies for work must present forged documents and claim to be someone else. He or she must use someone else’s social security number or a non-existent one. When the employer files tax reports and pays payroll taxes, the computer at the Social Security Administration sees an error: The same social security number is being used by more than one person. The name doesn’t match the social security number.

So, any independent State or local prosecutor in the United States, acting on his own, could convene a grand jury to investigate identity theft within their county or jurisdiction. The grand jury can subpoena records from SSA for mis-matches within their region. SSA would be required to hand over records identifying exactly where trespassers work and where they live. Identity theft victims could be cross-checked against the perpetrators. However, once it becomes known which businesses employ illegal aliens in the state, employers would have to fire them immediately. (Businesses currently hide behind the ploy “We didn’t know.”) Without jobs, illegals would have no reason to stay in the United States.

Identity theft has real victims. Those whose identities have been stolen face loans, credit cards, and purchases by others for which they become responsible. That is robbery just as surely as if the perpetrator used a gun. Credit ratings can be ruined. This is not a victimless crime. Victims have a right to protection from prosecutors who answer to the voters.

Second, most illegal aliens announce who they are and where they live every month. Mexican nationals working in the United States send an estimated $27 billion a year home to Mexico annually. Much of that is the fruit of crime, including identity theft, document forgery and fraud. Meanwhile, money laundering is a crime, meaning transmitting or disguising the proceeds of crime.

As a result, any prosecutor in any county or jurisdiction in America could convene a grand jury investigating identity theft and subpoena the records of Western Union, Bank of America and other banks and money services businesses of transmissions from their county or state to Mexico or South America. Banks and money services businesses are obligated to verify identities and addresses under banking regulations.

Under the laws of some states, those funds could be seized as the fruits of crime, and then used to repay hospitals and schools for the burden of serving illegal immigrants. The famous tobacco litigation would be a precedent. Obviously, those records would also help prosecutors locate identity thieves, including where they live.

Third, like the tobacco litigation, state and local governments and individual hospitals and schools could sue Mexico and/or Mexican officials to compensate for the cost of treating illegal immigrants for free in hospitals and for educating their children, under laws like RICO for affirmative actions taken to promote illegal immigration with effects inside the United States. Money transmitted from the United States to Mexico including the purchase price of oil exports could be “attached” or “garnished” in legal proceedings to compensate U.S. hospitals and schools. With the profit motive gone, Mexico would change its actions about illegal immigration.

Finally, of course state and local governments do have the power to enforce laws about illegal immigration. The propaganda saying only the Federal government may act is nonsense. It is overwhelmingly clear under U.S. Supreme Court precedents that a state or local government may enact laws to do more than federal laws, as long as they do not undermine or conflict with federal law. Because it is illegal under federal law to reside or work in the United States without authorization, any state or local regulation restricting or punishing illegal immigration is wholly consistent with federal law and policy.

JONATHON MOSELEY

Alexandria

Reasons for optimism on climate change

Henry I. Miller is right that some climate change is inevitable (“Global warming resilience required,” Commentary, yesterday) because carbon dioxide lingers in the atmosphere for over a century. So even if we cut emissions now, about 1 degree of warming is already built into the climate system and some adaptation, as he points out, is prudent. But as the levies in New Orleans illustrated, adapting to extreme changes in our environment can only help up to a point.

Most scientists estimate that we need to reduce emissions by 60 percent to 80 percent by mid-century to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. The United States can achieve those reductions gradually, and prosper economically, if we act soon. Scientists Stephen Pacala and Robert Socolow of Princeton have demonstrated that there are 15 existing technologies available to make the necessary reductions. And if we unleash the cash and creativity in the private sector by creating a market incentive to reduce emissions — a cap and trade system — we will experience a dramatic surge in low-carbon technology development.

Climate change pessimists ignore America’s ability to innovate and win — and to lead the world toward solving great challenges. Optimism has always served our nation and, in this case, it is optimism firmly rooted in the reality of the market.

STEVE COCHRAN

Director of the national climate change campaign

Environmental Defense

Washington

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