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  • Article: The Immigration Bar Is Wrong By Harry DeMell

    The Immigration Bar Is Wrong


    When everyone in a room has the same opinion everyone is wrong.

    Invariably they are wrong. This is especially true of the immigration bar.

    I don’t mean to say that they are necessarily one hundred and eighty degrees wrong, but they are nevertheless wrong. That is because no one in that room is doing any critical thinking. No one is challenging the thoughts and ideas to test them. No one is using scientific method to determine what is correct and what is not.i

    I would say this even if everyone in that room said that the world was round. There isn’t a reader of this article that would argue with that, yet it would still be true that they would all be wrong because when no one has challenged an idea then no one is thinking critically about that subject. At best, the failure to challenge leads to superficial analysis: at worst complete wrong thought.

    America’s greatness comes from the free flow of ideas. You could call it ‘diversity of ideas’ that allows the best ideas to rise to the top. It allows ideas to be tested and refined. This has built industry, science, medicine and just about everything that has led to the advances that have changed the world since the American Revolution. I would argue that the diversity of ideas is the most important diversity by far because without that all you have is theater.

    Societies that avoid diversity of ideas include Soviet Russia, Nazi Germany, Communist China, and the Islamic Republic of Iran. I could go on but you get the idea. Those societies require people to march in lock step, and not to challenge ideas. Those societies rely upon threats of force to endure. We must never allow the United States of America to become like them.

    Take the immigration debate this year. The immigration bar has only considered one option: Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR). It was hardly challenged in ILW. I don’t remember one articleii that challenged CIR. The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) has one position on this and it seemed everyone who challenged that position was chased away from the room. What we had left was a place where everyone was wrong.

    Worse yet, by allowing just one idea into the debate, that debate becomes controlled by a mutual admiration society, where the participants just congratulate themselves for being correct. They reinforce their mutually

    held ideas. Even the press for the most part refused to challenge these ideas. The press is guilty too.

    This idea reinforcement leads to a herding mentality.iii This leads to everyone agreeing to things they do not completely understand because they need to be accepted into the group or to get the approval of people they think have a higher social position. The immigration bar fled to CIR like lemmings off a cliff.

    The participants in this debate convinced themselves that they were on the ‘good’ side and that the other side was ‘bad’. They said that those who want to enforce the immigration laws are evil. They showed examples of the suffering people encountered when threatened with removal or by being forced to comply with the law. This group mentality leads to a ‘holier then thou’ attitude that ***** the oxygen out of solid, critical thinking: a type of thinking that seems increasingly absent from our universities, the press, as well as the immigration bar right about now.

    This herd mentality has led to people shunning others as friends, on social media and professionally simply because they do not want to deal with ideas that they have prejudged to be ‘wrong’. And by wrong they often mean racist.

    The immigration bar voiced arguments that would be unacceptable in other areas of law. It would be inconceivable for a criminal bar organization to argue that all criminals should be pardoned. Who would take them seriously? Could anyone imagine a national or state criminal bar organization without a spirited debate over how to handle criminal matters in a complicated and nuanced way? Yet that is what has been happening here. If a bankruptcy bar association advocated forgiveness of all debts without question would they be taken seriously?iv

    That is not to say that the immigration bar should advocate the deportation of all illegal aliens.v The Federation for Immigration Reform (FAIR) advocates that position. There is a world of position between deporting everyone here illegally and putting them on the road to citizenship. I would argue that a spirited debate where no side vilifies the other would be a good start in coming to a point where we can find a place where the rule of law is enforced in a meaningful way but at the same time there is enough flexibility to make exceptions that are good for America.

    There is about to be a generational debate in the area of visa, immigration and nationality law. Everyone will be heard: but the outliers on both sides will be marginalized by those who take a nuanced central position that makes a strong case for changes to our laws that support the territorial integrity, the economy, and the safety of America.

    Good laws come from good debate. Better laws get tested and refined. Intelligent people are able to make changes when the facts and circumstances dictate. They do not reject ideas unless they fully understand those ideas and can explain why opposing ideas are incorrect. They will have to be able to recommend better ideas. Making all illegals citizens or deporting them all will seem childish in the halls of congress once this debate begins.

    Every reader needs to be able to argue all sides of the immigration debate. If you can’t, if you simply say that the other side is wrong, you are shortchanging the debate and you are unqualified to participate.

    I like to discuss with young people, whenever I can, this area or any other. I ask them to trade sides with me and we argue each other’s positions to see if we truly understand each other. Usually they are not up to the task and I try to persuade them that without a rounded understanding of the subject their world-view is flat.

    i His is precisely why Hillary Clinton lost the presidential race. By comparison, President-Elect Trump was surrounded by the press and a party challenging each and everything he did. He emerged the stronger for this.

    ii Other than my own.

    iii I thank Editor Sam Udani for this suggestion.

    iv Bernard Sanders not withstanding.

    v Yes, they are illegally here. The term ‘undocumented’ is an Orwellian propaganda term.

    Reprinted with permission.

    About The Author

    Harry DeMell Harry DeMell has been practicing law in the areas of visa, immigration and nationality since 1977. He is a graduate of New York Law School. Mr. DeMell is an active member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). He has been a member of the AILA's annual planning committee, participated in their lobbying efforts, and is a mentor to other members. Mr. DeMell has also chaired committees for the Nassau County Bar Association and the Brooklyn Bar Association. He is a frequent speaker and a writer on important visa and immigration issues.

    The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.

    Comments 1 Comment
    1. ImmigrationLawBlogs's Avatar
      ImmigrationLawBlogs -
      With all due respect to Mr. DeMell, is the phase "free flow of ideas" that he uses above anything more than a cruel joke in the coming age of rule by, for and of Donald J. Trump and the cabal of thought police enforcers surrounding him? See:


      Roger Algase
      Attorney at Law
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