By Alan Nathan © 2007 Washington Times

Is it time to build the wall? The cause behind the Senate’s failed immigration reform bill was an Achilles’ heel that its advocates ignored but opponents instinctively understood — you can’t hold a right hostage to an ultimatum.

The architects behind the bill insisted that before we Americans could have our constitutionally entitled protection from invasion, we first had to accept legalizing the invaders as the condition for that protection. You might as well try to convince a poker player to use cash while his opponent gets to toss around IOU’s.

Understanding that border security against invasion has always been our Article IV, Section 4 guaranteed entitlement — how could the president and the Senate argue seriously that approving pathways to citizenship was a legitimate contingency upon which to hold that security-right hostage?

One of the more calamitous advocates for immediately legalizing the illegals was NPR Senior Correspondent and Fox News panelist Juan Williams. Characteristic of this defense was his appearance in the June 7th edition of “Hannity & Colmes” on the Fox News Channel. Mr. Williams rejected co-host Sean Hannity’s contention that it was wrong to reward those who didn’t respect our sovereignty.

Mr. Williams argued that if we didn’t pass the immigration reform, it would amount to a silent amnesty. He stated: “What you’re doing is saying, ‘We can’t do anything. We’re going to play politics with it. We’re going to please the conservative base.’ And as a result, we’re not going to do anything.” As a consequence, Mr. Williams’ assertion meant that in order for us to have what’s already owed to us, we must yield on that which is owed to no one.

Since when should anyone have to bargain away existing possessions in exchange for promised ones? Politicos and pundits propagating this mythical equivalency between desired legislative law and existing constitutional law are either, A) deliberately engaged in bad-faith arguments, or B) genuinely unfamiliar with legislative law’s subordinate role to constitutional law. Regardless of which might be the reason, they’re both equally dangerous as well as unpardonable.

The only legislation justified as a basis for border integrity is an appropriations bill because it would exist for the primary purpose of funding that which they’re already required to fulfill — the guarding of our sovereignty. Accordingly, such a bill requires no irrelevant quid pro quo goodies.

The paradox surrounding this issue is that the ones most responsible for illegals not having access to pathways to citizenship are the very folks purporting to be their champions. In the aggregate, we Americans are big hearted and could eventually be assuaged to embrace some kind of plan to accelerate illegals into legitimacy; however, we’ll always have trouble with folks who, in the name of an alleged noble cause, would trample on far nobler principles.

You can’t characterize a proposed act of kindness as if it’s an obligatory requirement necessary to avoid the racist tag, and then expect any other response but anger and resentment from the American people.

If the governments from whence these illegals hail are entitled to have strong border controls without fear of being labeled xenophobic, then so are we. Only those having the aggregate brilliance of a Paris Hilton-Nicole Richie fan-club convention would assert that the paranoia surrounding the fallacious charge of racial insensitivity somehow transcends our lawful entitlement to secured boundary lines.

Thankfully, once you get some of these politicos away from their arm-twisting leadership, they prove a bit more rational. Recently, I had on my show a debate between Rep. Jim Moran, Virginia Democrat, and Rep. Michael Burgess, Texas Republican. I asked both about the racially charged rhetoric coming from those advocating the bill’s passage. I submitted to each that when you falsely use the race card, you become the racist because you have used race to marginalize otherwise innocent folks, thus fulfilling the very definition of racism. They both agreed.

I also asked the congressmen if it was intellectually disingenuous for both Republican and Democratic supporters of this bill to castigate their opponents as being anti-immigrant versus anti-illegal immigrant simply because they want border security as a pre-cursor to immigration reform. Again, they both agreed.

Mr. Moran even offered that while he supports the bill, contrary to many of his otherwise like-minded colleagues, he thought it counter-productive to hold the already funded barriers, walls and fences hostage to this legislation.

He added that “Bush has over $4 billion allocated for these projects — why doesn’t he just build the damn fence already?” I then turned to Mr. Burgess and stressed the same question to which he replied: “Alan, I have no idea why this president hasn’t begun sealing up that border with the funds already given.” “So on this you concur with Congressman Moran,” I asked. “Yes I do,” he answered.

President Bush and Congress, your immigration reform might be in the political obituaries, but our rights to border security remain immortal. Get to work because we are still watching.