In light of the Arizona immigration bill just signed into law, I’ve had some thoughts about this whole issue. And grant me this: I’m no lawyer, but I am a thinker…and I can read. Hang with me as I chew this over.
Columnist Patrick J. Buchanan has a column in Human Events entitled Whose Country Is This? He asks a lot of questions, and pretty much blames President Obama and Washington for the mess at our borders.
But is it really THEIR fault that things are so horribly messed up?
That ragged, toothless old document, the US Constitution, authorizes Congress only one duty remotely related to immigration…with only seven words. Article I, Section 8 says: “(Congress shall have the power) To establish a uniform Rule of Naturalization.”
That’s it, friends and neighbors. There isn’t even a definition of the word "naturalization" in the Constitution. But generally speaking, naturalization is the acquisition of citizenship or nationality by somebody who was not a citizen or national of that country when he or she was born.
But that has NOTHING to do with immigration or securing borders against illegal immigration. Remember that not all that enter the USA WANT to become citizens. Some just want to live here.
The rule of naturalization, in its simplest form, would define which persons are eligible for citizenship, and the steps whereby they would become US citizens.
Beyond that, I cannot see any authorization for the United States to enact laws or enforce laws dealing with ANY persons entering any state legally or illegally. That would include those who enter any state legally but remain in the state after their legal immigration documents expire.
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Seems to me that immigration laws are the purview of the states, since under the Tenth Amendment, "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the People."
At first, immigration in America happened slowly. Historians estimate that under one million immigrants…perhaps as few as 400,000…came from Europe to the Americas during the 200 years after the settlement of Jamestown in 1607. But immigration began its long boom period around 1820. Between 1820 and 1860, over 5 million immigrants crossed the Atlantic.
And the flood of immigrants continued: in the 1860s, 2.3 million came; in the 1870s, 2.8 million came. Between 1880 and 1920, nearly 26 million men, women and children flocked to America.
In 1875 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that immigration was a federal responsibility. Then the Immigration Act of 1891 established an Office of the Superintendent of Immigration within the Treasury Department. A “head tax” of fifty cents per person was assessed on each immigrant.
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All during these centuries, the Federal Government set no limitation on immigration. In fact, at least thirty states actively recruited overseas. Most of the barriers to immigration were set by European nations, not American states. For example, England prevented the emigration of skilled artisans until 1820. But soon, those barriers fell and foreign governments released their people to emigrate to America.
But in 1921, it came to an abrupt end. Congress bowed to pressure from those who had already immigrated and settled here to stem the tide of immigrants. Congress passed The Emergency Quota Act of 1921, a strict law based upon national origins, that limited immigration to no more than 150,000 entrants annually. This law favored immigration from those of British and European origin. This law was further tightened by the Immigration Act of 1924.
All during the period from 1776 to 1921, the Federal Government played almost no role in immigration, leaving the responsibilities to the states. In 1790, Congress had set a two-year residency requirement for naturalization…but it did not interfere with the rights of the states to accept as many immigrants as they desired. After Jefferson’s inauguration, the term of residency was set to five years, and remains the same to this day.
The Immigration and Nationality Act, or INA, was created in 1952. Before the INA, a variety of statutes governed immigration law but were not organized in one location. The McCarran-Walter bill of 1952, Public Law No. 82-414, collected and codified many existing provisions and reorganized the structure of immigration law. The Act has been amended many times over the years, but is still the basic body of immigration law.
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Once again, seems to me that Congress has entirely overstepped their Constitutional authority and enacted law upon law upon law dealing with an issue that should be handled by each state.
What if Michigan decides that they want to increase the number of immigrants into their state? That should be their business alone. If neighboring Ohio doesn’t want immigrants and passes laws that effectively close its borders, so be it.
And the same thing should be happening at the border between Mexico and the Southwestern states, from the Pacific Ocean to the mouth of the Rio Grande in Texas. Each state should decide their own immigration policy, enact laws pertaining to it, and go about enforcing the law.
I know that present immigration woes are hopelessly intertwined with US drug policy and the stupidly-called "War on Drugs." But acknowledging how the DC criminals have bungled many issues, costing billions of dollars and countless lives, only shows how much Americans need to separate themselves from Washington.
The schizophrenia of Washington is writ large in this issue. If Washington understood the Constitution, it could tell the states that immigration is their problem, thereby saving Washington jillions. But DC likes power and the jillions it takes to screw up immigration for all 50 states and the rest of the world. So DC muscles everyone like a mob enforcer.
So, to answer the title question: the 50 states all bear principal responsibility for the woeful immigration debacle in America today. If the states would have asserted their sovereignty over the last 160 years, they would control immigration and the DC criminals would have no voice whatsoever in the matter.
Any seceding state would instantly face immigration and naturalization issues. Why not start dropping off the shackles of DC tyranny NOW? If Arizona can tell Washington to go pound sand, why can’t the politicians in YOUR state do the same…even before secession? Even if you never want to secede?
Secession can cure all the terminal political illness of the United States. Who will be first?