House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has been quoted by the media as endorsing the idea of granting 16-year-old U.S. citizens the right to vote in federal elections. It got me to thinking ...
Dear Madam Speaker,
I understand that you and a goodly number of other party members have argued that citizens as young as 16 should be enfranchised.
The question, of course, is one of maturity, which is a matter of no small significance where the governance of our nation is concerned. That you and other Democrats have come to believe that 16- and 17-years-olds are possessed of adequate maturity and reasoning sound enough to merit the right to vote is an interesting point of view.
For purposes of political and philosophical clarity and consistency, I'm obliged to remind you of the fuss you have made over the treatment of alien minors who cross the U.S. border illegally. A July 2015 report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) noted that fully 61 percent of the unaccompanied "children" who crossed illegally were aged 16 or 17 (see the pie chart on page 16 of the report). There is no reason at all to believe that this figure has changed substantially in the interim; it may even be higher.
In other words, they fall into the same category as U.S. citizens of that age. Logically speaking then, it seems to me that you should be amenable to amending the laws governing their treatment to exclude them from the protections extended by the William Wilberforce Act to alien minors. They should be treated as adults, and subjected to the same processing rules and requirements as any other alien adult who crosses the border illegally. Would that not be the right thing to do, given your beliefs?
Or is this another of those areas in which Democrats have moral blind spots and adhere to obvious double standards, such as pushing hard for universal gun control — except when it facilitates identifying illegal aliens seeking to unawfully purchase weapons; or when they balk at a law that would require a state department of corrections to tally and publicize how many alien felons are in its penal institutions?
I anxiously await your public endorsement of statutory amendments excluding 16- and 17-year-old aliens from the protections afforded to younger minors who enter our country illegally, so that they may be treated as fully functioning and reasoning adults under the immigration laws.
Dan Cadman is Fellow at Center for Immigration Studies and is a retired INS / ICE official with thirty years of government experience. Mr. Cadman served as a senior supervisor and manager at headquarters, as well as at field offices both domestically and abroad.
Editor's Note: This piece was originally published by the Center for Immigration Studies.