Are immigration decisions an enumerated, concurrent or reserved power?

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Of these three choices, the best answer is that immigration decisions are an enumerated power.  These decisions are solely the province of the national government.   States do not have any power in this area.  The only reason why one would not say this is an enumerated power is that it...

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Of these three choices, the best answer is that immigration decisions are an enumerated power.  These decisions are solely the province of the national government.   States do not have any power in this area.  The only reason why one would not say this is an enumerated power is that it is not explicitly listed in the Constitution.

In the Constitution, there is no clause that clearly states anything like “Congress shall have the power to decide who may enter the country.”  Instead, the national government’s power over immigration is more of an implied power that is suggested by powers that are clearly enumerated.

For example, the Constitution says that Congress can pass laws specifying how new citizens will be naturalized.  If Congress can control the making of new citizens, it presumably can control who can enter the country.  The Constitution also gives Congress the power to regulate commerce with foreign countries.  We can infer that immigration is a form of commerce.  Finally, the Constitution gives Congress the power to limit or ban the “migration or importation” of slaves (though the word “slaves” is not used) after the year 1808.  This implies that Congress has the right to determine who may migrate to the United States.

The Supreme Court has consistently found that immigration policy is a power of the federal government and is denied to the states.  This means that it is best to say that it is an enumerated power as it is clearly not reserved to the states and is not concurrent.

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