“Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me: I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”― Emma Lazarus
We recognize that phrase from the Statue of Liberty. What about our first president, George Washington? What were his thoughts?
“I had always hoped that this land might become a safe and agreeable asylum to the virtuous and persecuted part of mankind, to whatever nation they might belong. And… My opinion with respect to immigration is, that except of useful mechanics and some particular description of men and professions, there is no use of encouragement.”
This nation has always been one to accept those who have been rejected by their native lands. The thing which united us all was liberty, the opportunity to be self-reliant, to succeed or fail on our own. Of course, not everyone has always felt this way, and over 200+ years many things have changed.
There is no doubt there have been those who do not want certain people coming to our shores based on their ethnicity, color, or religion. Certainly, in the past few decades, we have, of necessity, had to worry about those who would do us harm. The world has changed, and our nation is paying the price for our leader’s failures. This was to be a land of opportunity, not a land of giveaways.
After WWI there was a surge in immigration, and an effort was made to curb it somewhat. The Immigration Act of 1917 banned most Asian immigration and added a literacy test for those over 16. The Immigration Acts of 1921 and 1924 gave quotas for eastern and southern Europeans, but with the Great Depression came strict quotas even for migrant workers to preserve jobs for citizens– as it should be. The depression lasted into WWII, and with so many involved in the war effort, migrant workers, especially from Mexico, were welcomed back.
Through WWII, the US did not differentiate between immigrant and refugee. We did not even allow Jews who were under persecution to enter the country until 1944. 1948 was the first year the US adopted a policy allowing persons fleeing persecution. I do not know anyone who is against those who are fleeing persecution or coming to better themselves. However, there is government policy that has exacerbated our problems.
Legal immigrants are eligible for welfare, food stamps (SNAP), healthcare, housing programs, and more. Illegal immigrants, while not directly eligible, (they can get free medical care and school) can collect for their children who are born here and are citizens. It is this drain on our resources that has so many rightfully upset. The immigration issue was most certainly a major reason for the election of Donald Trump.
In 1948 there was a landmark immigration case before the Supreme Court– Chicago & Southern Air Lines v. Waterman. FDR’s former attorney general AND chief prosecutor at Nuremberg, Justice Robert Jackson, wrote that decisions involving foreign policy, including alien threats to national security, are “political, not judicial in nature. (After all, no judge receives security briefings. They have no clue as to threats or dangers to our citizens and overall security.)
“Thus, they are wholly confided by our Constitution to the political departments of the government, Executive and Legislative. They are delicate, complex, and involve large elements of prophecy. They are and should be undertaken only by those directly responsible to the people whose welfare they advance or imperil. They are decisions of a kind for which the Judiciary has neither aptitude, facilities nor responsibility and have long been held to belong in the domain of political power not subject to judicial intrusion or inquiry.”
Fast forward to 2008 and Boumediene v. Bush, the 2008 Supreme Court decision. Lakhdar Boumediene was a naturalized citizen of Bosnia and Herzegovina held in military detention by the United States at the Guantanamo Bay detention camps in Cuba. In a split 5-4 decision with Justice Kennedy casting the deciding vote holding that the prisoners had a right to the writ of habeas corpus under the protection of the US Constitution and that the Military Commissions Act of 2006 unconstitutionally denied that right. The lower court had ruled the Guantanamo detainees had no constitutional rights as enemy combatants.
In the 1803 decision Marbury v Madison, the Supreme Court decided it was the ultimate arbiter of things constitutional, in spite of the fact the Constitution itself says otherwise. This, of course, using Stare Decisis becomes a mistake that is carried on. Invoking Marbury v. Madison (1803), the Court concluded: “The Nation’s basic charter cannot be contracted away like this. The Constitution grants Congress and the President the power to acquire, dispose of, and govern territory, not the power to decide when and where its terms apply. To hold that the political branches may switch the Constitution on or off at will would lead to a regime in which they, not this Court, say ‘what the law is.’”
To this columnist, giving full constitutional rights and privileges to an enemy combatant destroys the value of citizenship for the rest of us. What value is our citizenship if noncitizens enjoy the same privileges? Maybe it is “projection” that the court believes the other branches are doing what they deny within themselves?
The US immigration system has become a joke, and it’s dangerous. President Trump won, most likely on this issue alone. Congress is clearly given the right and responsibility for immigration and naturalization. Legislation was debated, passed, and signed into law giving the president broad authority regarding immigration. And rightfully so. Imagine 535 politicians trying to respond to a threat or problem in a timely manner. Since they have the constitutional authority, should a president “go rogue,” Congress has the power to rein him in.
People are tired and afraid after eight years of ignoring the threats of terrorism by immigrants, the tremendous financial burden of illegal immigrants, and those who came legally, but are living on government programs. But no, a “rogue” judge in Washington state decided that making someone wait to come here while we make the needed changes to properly vet them caused more harm than a terrorist will. The liberal Ninth Circuit Court then decided it agreed with the rogue judge.
Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to Justice William Johnson in 1823 wrote concerning the Supreme Court and Chief Justice Marshall overstepping their bounds:
“But the Chief Justice says, “there must be an ultimate arbiter somewhere.” True, there must; but does that prove it is either party? The ultimate arbiter is the people of the Union, assembled by their deputies in convention, at the call of Congress, or of two-thirds of the States. Let them decide to which they mean to give an authority claimed by two of their organs. And it has been the peculiar wisdom and felicity of our Constitution, to have provided this peaceable appeal, where that of other nations is at once to force.”
Our courts, judges, and justices are out of control – and have been for nearly 200 years.