Ayn Rand’s 106th birthday is being celebrated today by people all over the world, including many who would (if they only could) escape the various tyrannies under which they happened to be born, people whose most burning desire is to become Americans. Her birthday is also being celebrated, incoherently, by many Americans actively engaged in keeping those would-be Americans out.
Ayn Rand was an “Illegal Immigrant.” Scare quotes because, in the moral sense, it is the laws that deny, to some persons, the enjoyment of their natural individual rights solely because of the happenstance of where they were born (and that deny to American citizens our undeniable individual right to employ, and to trade with, the peaceable persons of our choice) – it is America’s current immigration laws that are illegitimate.
To obtain a visa to America, Alisa Rozenbaum went through great effort to convince American consular officials, and falsely swore, that she intended to return to Soviet Russia to marry a fellow Soviet citizen to whom she was engaged. Under American law, this constituted (1)perjury, (2)making false statements to a government official, (3)falsification of official documents; and a string of lesser felonies. Her visa, being the fruit of these deliberately committed felonies, was never legally valid. Fortunately, back in the 1920s most Americans understood (as Rand herself understood) that principles are not intrinsicist rules, but guidelines for contextually chosen action. Immigrants from Soviet Russia (and later from Nazi Germany) were not, as a rule, prosecuted for whatever felonies they had committed in order to escape their previous rulers and migrate to America.
Ayn Rand became what today would be formally an “illegal immigrant” when her tourist visa expired, and she stayed. (Soviet passports were for 3 years, at least for those without Pull in the High Nomenklatura. Alice’s – her passport name – was issued October 29, 1925. It expired, together with any visas and visa extensions that were stamped into it, on or before October 29, 1928.) She did not become “legal” again until her marriage to an American citizen the following year. The marriage entitled her to become a legal resident (this is no longer the case today.) Overstaying the expiration of a US visa is not a felony, but it is a serious misdemeanor – one for which even mothers of young American citizens have been deported in recent years. Of course, back when most Americans could still think in concepts, such minor technical violations of immigration law were not a problem for any American. Today this is no longer the case. Pragmatist control of American “education” has produced a generation of Americans bereft of normal human conceptual faculties. They have learned that it is racism, to deny a person the enjoyment of her natural rights because of where her ancestors were born. But they are OK with denying a person the enjoyment of her natural rights, because of where she herself was born.
The mantra of today’s conservatives is law enforcement first, immigration reform only “after the borders have been secured.” American consular officials are under no obligation to respect the individual rights of foreign nationals abroad, and, like all bureaucrats, enjoy the exercise of arbitrary authority over their helpless legal inferiors. The current legal immigration process typically subjects the immigrant to years of waiting in a legal limbo, punctuated by periodic rituals of humiliating subjection to the arbitrary whims of petty consular bureaucrats. The gauntlet of waiting through years of arbitrary obstacles and humiliations, functions as a filter, letting through only those who, once they have arrived in America, will obey our emerging tyrants. The message of our immigration laws to independent-minded people, including those who today celebrate the birthday of American illegal immigrant Alisa Rozenbaum, is simple: we don’t want you here.