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United States Immigration PolicyWould love to have some insight from a true historian...

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squishy03 | (Level 3) eNoter

Posted November 7, 2010 at 1:28 PM via web

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United States Immigration Policy

Would love to have some insight from a true historian concerning America's ever changing immigration policy starting with Ellis Island. Also, any discussion concerning the powers granted specifically to the Federal Government and specifically to the States per the Constitution. The way I see it, the feds completely trampled on the Constitutional rights of Arizona, per the 10th Amendment, when they sued Arizona for attempting to rid themselves of their illegal immigrant problem.

This is not a rant. I am in need of enlightenment please...not opinions.

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brettd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted November 7, 2010 at 5:40 PM (Answer #2)

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America's immigration policy from the 1880s through the 1930s was much more strict than it is today, or at least, it was more strictly enforced, but this was in part because it could be.  The vast majority of immigrants in those days were from Europe, and by controlling the ports of entry they could reasonably restrict immigration.  And they did.  The Chinese Exclusion Act in the 1880s and a slew of others, including the National Origins Act and the Emergency Quota Act of the 1920s all put very restrictive limits on how many immigrants could come to the US.  Immigration policy was harshest against Asians, when the quota for admission of people from Asian countries was reduced to zero.

In the 1930s the Federal Government deported a fairly large number of Latinos (the first wave of immigrants from Mexico came in the 1920s) so there would be field worker jobs for white Americans during the Depression, only to invite them back as guest workers during the Bracero program of World War II, when there was a shortage of white labor.

I would say today's immigration policy stems from a few different practical realities:

1)  The most recent waves of immigrants from Latin America are of course, overland immigrants, and this has been harder to control.

2)  The massive amount of trade goods imported into the US, and cross border traffic makes it very hard to patrol and control it all.  This was not true in earlier decades when our economy and international trade volumes were considerably smaller in scope than today.

3)  Despite what is said in public, many business interests of course profit from low wage laborers who are here illegally, and so they lobby both parties to do nothing that would get in the way of such profit.

I'm not an expert on the Arizona law, or the court challenge to it, but I believe the federal position is that it is more of a 4th amendment issue than a 10th, because of the increased powers it gives to law enforcement, and a 14th amendment issue because all citizens are entitled to equal protection under the law, and there isn't really a way to enforce the Arizona statute (as I understand it) without racial profiling of American citizens of Latino descent, so it becomes, then, legally problematic.

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted November 7, 2010 at 6:23 PM (Answer #3)

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As I understand it, the real issue with the Arizona law is that you cannot have various states having what are, in effect, different laws about immigration.  Immigration is something that (like trade) is strictly in the purview of the federal government.  The argument (whether one agrees or not) is that states cannot intrude into something that is a matter for the federal government.

So as far as that goes, it's an issue of the meaning of the Supremacy Clause and what exactly that means in this rather grey area.

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squishy03 | (Level 3) eNoter

Posted November 8, 2010 at 1:11 AM (Answer #4)

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"The Ninth Amendment preserved all rights under existing state laws as of 1791, and those rights, which States might later decide to extend. The Tenth guaranteed to the States their ability to exercise their powers based on the sovereignty of the people to self-government. The Ninth Amendment looks to the past of the rights retained. The Tenth Amendment acts to prevent encroachment by the Federal government upon the States via the exercise of a non-delegated power.

Thomas Jefferson forcibly tells us what the States retained under the U.S. Constitution in regards to immigration: Alien friends are under the jurisdiction and protection of the laws of the state wherein they are; that no power over them has been delegated to the United States, nor prohibited to the individual states, distinct from their power over citizens; and it being true, as a general principle, and one of the amendments to the Constitution having also declared, that 'the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited to the states, are reserved, to the states, respectively, or to the people.'

Because the States decided they would retain their own laws, customs, independence and sovereignty with the exception of what was surrendered, the Federal government was left with no powers to meddle within the States."

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted November 8, 2010 at 7:41 AM (Answer #5)

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I think #3 is rather helpful in clarifying that policy concerning immigration in Arizona law is less than clear. At present, this is left open to rather free interpretation with the opportunity to exploit the massive legal loopholes that exist. Clarification is necessary.

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squishy03 | (Level 3) eNoter

Posted November 8, 2010 at 9:02 AM (Answer #6)

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As I understand it, the real issue with the Arizona law is that you cannot have various states having what are, in effect, different laws about immigration.  Immigration is something that (like trade) is strictly in the purview of the federal government.  The argument (whether one agrees or not) is that states cannot intrude into something that is a matter for the federal government.

So as far as that goes, it's an issue of the meaning of the Supremacy Clause and what exactly that means in this rather grey area.

Actually you have the info backwards; it is the Federal government who, per the Constitution, can not intrude upon the States rights. Our government leaders have either forgotten the 10th Amendment or they no longer deem it important.

State laws vary around the Nation and Immigration is no different. Our Founding Fathers amended the Constitution to allow for the very thing you say cannot happen; differing laws concerning immigration.

While the Federal government DOES set the guidelines (that are being broken on a daily basis without penalty) for immigration to take place. But it is the States who have the say as to whether or not immigrants can come into their territory.

Whether you agree or not does not change what is actually IN the Constitution. Our Country is in shambles today because our leaders have disregarded that old breathing document.

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epollock | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted November 9, 2010 at 12:19 AM (Answer #7)

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 It is not a matter of anyone doing any trampling but the state's obligations to take care of its state citizens, and the federal government's obligations to make sure the US Constitution is applied equally and fairly. The Justice Department has acted according to what it thinks is different than what the US Constitution says, so it is a matter of the legal system now and the victor will be realized at the end of the judicial process.

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amy-lepore | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted November 9, 2010 at 10:35 AM (Answer #8)

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Poster #6 is correct.  This is the very reason the Civil War broke out--the federal government was trying to tell the states in the South what they were going to do, and dictate how they were going to live.  Arizona has every right to keep immigrants from coming in their borders when the drug problem is so rampant--many of these illegals are drug mules bringing deadly illegal substances into the US.  Having lived in Yuma, AZ, I have witnessed first-hand what the drug issue is like, and that was a decade ago. 

There would be no issue if the illegal immigrants would enter the country legally and become legal citizens.  By doing this, it is much less likely that they would be wrapped up in illegal activity; not to mention, they would be paying into the tax system and the other social "helps" such as food assistance, clothing and shelter assistance, social security, medical care, etc.

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brettd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted November 9, 2010 at 10:07 PM (Answer #9)

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Poster #6 is correct.  This is the very reason the Civil War broke out--the federal government was trying to tell the states in the South what they were going to do, and dictate how they were going to live.  Arizona has every right to keep immigrants from coming in their borders when the drug problem is so rampant--many of these illegals are drug mules bringing deadly illegal substances into the US.  Having lived in Yuma, AZ, I have witnessed first-hand what the drug issue is like, and that was a decade ago. 

There would be no issue if the illegal immigrants would enter the country legally and become legal citizens.  By doing this, it is much less likely that they would be wrapped up in illegal activity; not to mention, they would be paying into the tax system and the other social "helps" such as food assistance, clothing and shelter assistance, social security, medical care, etc.

  So, to clarify, secession of the states before the Civil War was justified in your opinion, and states rights should trump the power of the Federal government in issues of cross border trade and traffic because you feel the South was unfairly dictated to?  If this is your argument, then there are serious constitutional issues and a long history of legal precedents on the other side of that argument.

Secondly, and I think this is a common misconception about many recent immigrants to the US from China and Latin America, they come here for economic reasons, to escape the abject poverty they live in.  There is nothing wrong with wanting to enforce immigration laws and certainly, as a sovereign nation, the US has the right to control what flows across her borders, both human and not, but it is practically impossible for these poorest of workers to wait several years to go through the legal process and spend thousands of dollars they don't have to do so.

Yes, Arizona has a right to protect its borders and citizens.  It also has to do so within the framework of Constitutional law, and the body of legal precedents already in place.

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lrwilliams | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted November 10, 2010 at 3:27 PM (Answer #10)

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This is a very tough issue to address. Those who live in the border states are going to have a very different view of immigration than those of us who live in the middle of the United States. I do believe that states, such as Arizona, should have the authority to address immigration in the way they see best meets the needs of their citizens.

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squishy03 | (Level 3) eNoter

Posted November 14, 2010 at 2:51 AM (Answer #11)

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In reply to #8:  So, to clarify, secession of the states before the Civil War was justified in your opinion, and states rights should trump the power of the Federal government in issues of cross border trade and traffic because you feel the South was unfairly dictated to?  If this is your argument, then there are serious constitutional issues and a long history of legal precedents on the other side of that argument.

Secondly, and I think this is a common misconception about many recent immigrants to the US from China and Latin America, they come here for economic reasons, to escape the abject poverty they live in.  There is nothing wrong with wanting to enforce immigration laws and certainly, as a sovereign nation, the US has the right to control what flows across her borders, both human and not, but it is practically impossible for these poorest of workers to wait several years to go through the legal process and spend thousands of dollars they don't have to do so.

Yes, Arizona has a right to protect its borders and citizens.  It also has to do so within the framework of Constitutional law, and the body of legal precedents already in place.

So to clarify, YES! The States only relinquished certain powers to the Federal Government. My word! Why don't we stop for a moment and listen to our Founders(The guys who wrote the Constitution)

James Madison-"The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the Federal Government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce with which last the power of taxation will, for the most part, be connected. The powers reserved to the States will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State."

 

Thomas Jefferson-"[A]lien friends are under the jurisdiction and protection of the laws of the state wherein they are; that no power over them has been delegated to the United States..."

Though Chief Justice Marshall was not a Founder, he lived far enough back in history that a PC environment didn't influence his judgment. When deciding McCulloch v. Maryland, this is what he had to say, "We admit, as all must admit, that the powers of the government are limited, and that its limits are not to be transcended."

States retained infinite rights and limited the power of the Feds. Our Founders were brilliant, but sadly, today are largely ignored.

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squishy03 | (Level 3) eNoter

Posted November 14, 2010 at 3:15 AM (Answer #12)

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In reply to #8:  So, to clarify, secession of the states before the Civil War was justified in your opinion, and states rights should trump the power of the Federal government in issues of cross border trade and traffic because you feel the South was unfairly dictated to?  If this is your argument, then there are serious constitutional issues and a long history of legal precedents on the other side of that argument.

Secondly, and I think this is a common misconception about many recent immigrants to the US from China and Latin America, they come here for economic reasons, to escape the abject poverty they live in.  There is nothing wrong with wanting to enforce immigration laws and certainly, as a sovereign nation, the US has the right to control what flows across her borders, both human and not, but it is practically impossible for these poorest of workers to wait several years to go through the legal process and spend thousands of dollars they don't have to do so.

Yes, Arizona has a right to protect its borders and citizens.  It also has to do so within the framework of Constitutional law, and the body of legal precedents already in place.

A bit more from America's history(I believe Chief Justice Taney says it all right here):

"Chief Justice Taney in the Passenger Cases said it was not open to dispute that the federal government had no such authority under the Constitution to force States to suffer from the introduction of foreigners from other countries.

The first inquiry is, whether, under the Constitution of the United States, the federal government has the power to compel the States to receive, and suffer to remain in association WITH ITS citizens, every person or class of persons whom it may be the policy or pleasure of the United States to admit...

For if the people of the several States of this Union reserved to themselves the power of expelling from their borders any person, or class of persons, whom it might deem dangerous to its peace, or likely to produce a physical or moral evil among its citizens, then any treaty or law of Congress invading this right, and authorizing the introduction of any person or description of persons against the consent of the State, would be an usurpation of power which this court could neither recognize or enforce.

 

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squishy03 | (Level 3) eNoter

Posted November 14, 2010 at 3:38 AM (Answer #13)

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This is a very tough issue to address. Those who live in the border states are going to have a very different view of immigration than those of us who live in the middle of the United States. I do believe that states, such as Arizona, should have the authority to address immigration in the way they see best meets the needs of their citizens.

Absolutely. And as you said, unless citizens of a State are being plagued by the issues illegal immigration creates, they cannot understand the depth pf angst.

I responded twice to poster #8 and listed four comments(had literally hundreds to choose from)where our Founders spoke concerning States rights, and a couple of early decisions handed down from Supreme Court Chief Justices dealing with immigration and States rights.

People are deciding these issues from their heart, (big business and special interests groups ex. ACLU from their pocketbooks).

Wanting a better life for one's family is completely understandable. But their intentional abuse of our Social programs, burden on our schools, staggering cost on our healthcare system, murder/rape/robbery stats committed by illegal's(thus incarceration costs), destruction of our public parks as well as filthying our malls and department stores, and lastly the ENORMOUS death toll on our highways is enough to drive any sane person over the edge. I cannot imagine the agony of a family member being the victim of a fatal hit/crash and run...and an illegal alien was at fault but fled to avoid deportation! Families get this news daily! Someone they love has been taken away by someone who was not suppose to be here. Slap!

It's unfathomable that the perp in the above situation gets more support by sympathizers than the victim's family.

What has happened in America that the Founder's words mean nothing anymore?

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