What I'm going to write here may seem so obvious that it's not worth saying. I think it is worth saying, because it is worth bringing out into the open tacit assumptions that lie behind liberal actions. Here's the too-obvious-to-bother-with statement:
Not allowing a non-citizen to come to the United States and/or stay in the United States permanently is not analogous to punishing him for a crime.
I know. Why bother saying this?
Well, because I think its denial lurks behind many otherwise extremely strange actions (and refusals to act) on the part of our leadership.
Consider, for example, something noted by Lawrence Auster here and here: President Obama and his advisers apparently think that an embrace of jihadist ideology and associates is not a sufficient reason to put a person on a no-fly list. Rather, the government has to have specific reason to believe that the person is definitely planning to carry out a terrorist attack. Sounds crazy, right?
But it makes a (little) bit more sense if we think of refusing to let someone fly to the United States as a punishment. If the prima facie case is that everyone and his aunt has a right to come to the United States and live in the United States, then we're pretty much at the level of needing a conviction of a crime beyond reasonable doubt before denying someone this right. If it isn't illegal in the United States to believe jihadist ideology, so goes the tacit reasoning, how can we punish a person by not allowing him to come to the United States simply for believing jihadist ideology? He has to be doing something (plotting a specific terrorist attack) we could arrest him for and charge him for, and we have to have strong, hard, evidence of this criminal activity, before we can deny him his prima facie right to come here.
Last week, commentator Jeff Singer expressed, correctly, the negation of the criminal punishment model when he said that if immigrants will not abide by our laws, respect our culture, etc., "...they will not be allowed in our country and/or we will take measures to remove them from our country as they live here not as some sort of human right of all men, but at the mercy of our hospitality."
I have suggested, to the shock of some, that all Muslim immigration to the U.S. should stop. Others will say only that those with jihadist connections (like the Christmas Day underwear bomber) should be kept out of the country. But we aren't going to get any restrictions, however obvious, however minimal, so long as we leave in place the criminal punishment model. At that point it's just a question of how far a given administration takes it. Obama is taking it to the logical conclusion (of a mad premise) by treating people as candidates for flying to the U.S. unless we have direct evidence that they are going to carry out a terrorist attack.
Once we throw out the criminal punishment model, we can argue about what constitutes a sensible immigration strategy that makes use of inductive evidence about Islam, jihad, sharia, and all the rest of it. But we can't get off the ground as long as we treat coming here as a right and not coming here as a punishment.