Beto O’Rourke’s Analogy Comparing US Immigration Laws to Slavery Entirely Misses the Mark

May 1, 2019 Updated: May 1, 2019


Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke recently opined that the nation’s tough immigration laws are, in essence, a modern-day form of slavery because they prevent people who have illegally crossed the border from living and working freely in the United States.

According to The Washington Free Beacon, O’Rourke stated, “Millions [are] living in the shadows, working some of the toughest jobs, lucky to make minimum wage, some not even making that. Kept in modern-day bondage, their immigration status used as leverage to keep them down from fully participating in this country’s success and in our economy, an economy that works too well for too few, and not well enough for most Americans.”

Once again, O’Rourke entirely misses the mark.

If O’Rourke wants to make analogies, perhaps he should polish up on some history and basic terms. For example, Jews around the world just finished celebrating the holiday of Passover, where the Jews commemorate their freedom from enslavement by Pharaoh in Egypt.

According to

“Pharaoh limited the personal freedom of the Hebrews, put heavy taxes on them, and recruited their men into forced labor battalions under the supervision of harsh taskmasters. Thus the children of Israel had to build cities, erect monuments, construct roads, work in the quarries, and hew stones or make bricks and tiles.”

In light of this historical context, the absurdity of O’Rourke’s analogy begins to crystallize. More particularly, it’s abundantly clear that the immigration laws in the United States do not enslave immigrants. Rather, the laws compel people who want to enter the country to do so legally.

O’Rourke assumes that the United States owes something to people who enter the country illegally. This simply is not the case. Illegal immigrants don’t enjoy the same rights and privileges that are afforded to those who enter the country legally and who follow the proper procedures to obtain their U.S. citizenship. If this was not the case, our immigration laws would be rendered virtually meaningless.

Contrary to O’Rourke’s illogical analogy, nobody is keeping immigrants down because of their immigration status. Rather, the immigration laws are there to protect the country and to properly “vet” those who are trying to enter the country. Once people follow the proper procedures and protocol, the opportunities for a better life are endless.

The United States welcomes people from vastly different backgrounds and ethnicities each and every day, so long as they follow the proper procedures. Those who don’t oftentimes are deported or refused entry.

This is not slavery, period! The Jews in Egypt were not given choices. They didn’t have the chance to “do things the right way” in order to obtain their freedom. They were forced to work and faced serious repercussions from taskmasters who watched over them. They weren’t given the chance to “make a better life” for themselves in Egypt, nor were given the chance to pursue the “American dream.” If the Jews refused or disobeyed their orders, they were whipped or beaten. Finally, as further punishment, some Jews endured the killing of their newborn sons at the hands of Pharaoh. The work was hard, the treatment was brutal and inhumane, and the Jews had no legitimate choice but to listen.

This, Mr. O’Rourke, is but one example (among many) depicting the devastating and awful treatment and conditions that slaves were unwillingly forced to endure. Unlike the Jews in Egypt and others who have endured the devastating impacts of slavery, illegal immigrants who want to enter the United States are in control of their own destiny.

Simply stated, if they follow the nation’s immigration rules and enter the country legally, the nation will welcome them with open arms. On the other hand, if they try to enter illegally or to circumvent the nation’s laws, they run the risk of being detained or deported.

This is not slavery, and O’Rourke’s suggestion to the contrary entirely misses the mark.

Elad Hakim is a writer, commentator, and attorney. His articles have been published in The Washington Examiner, The Daily Caller, The Federalist, The Western Journal, American Thinker, and other online publications.  

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.