Tag Archives: immigration

Sorry, Judge Napolitano: Immigration Isn’t “Foreign Policy”

Seal of the United States Court of Appeals for...
Seal of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By the time you read this, the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit may have handed down a ruling for or against president Donald Trump’s executive order banning travel and immigration from seven countries. Two states (Washington and Minnesota) are suing to kill that order.

Andrew Napolitano — a prominent constitutionalist and libertarian commentator, not to mention a former New Jersey Superior Court judge — writes in Reason that the states don’t have legitimate standing to sue. Why? Because the Constitution provides for quite a bit of presidential latitude on foreign policy.

I’ll explain why Judge Napolitano is wrong on the details momentarily, but first let’s get one thing out of the way: Immigration is not a foreign policy matter. Foreign policy relates to matters outside the United States and to relations between US government and other governments around the world. Immigration relates to individuals wishing to enter and possibly reside in the United States. It is therefore a matter of domestic, not foreign, policy.

It’s also a matter constitutionally reserved to the states, which is where Judge Napolitano really steps in it. He hangs his argument for the order and against the states’ legal standing on the fact that “[a] 1952 federal statute permits the president to suspend the immigration status of any person or group whose entry into the United States might impair public health or safety or national security.”

But that statute is plainly unconstitutional, for the same reason that the states have standing. Why? Because per Article I, Section 9 of the Constitution, “The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight …”

Article V of the Constitution forbids amending that provision prior to 1808, and no amendment to it has been proposed or ratified since that time. Congress scrupulously observed that restriction for nearly a century. As with many restrictions on federal power, it eventually got ignored. But it’s still “the supreme law of the land.”

The Constitution doesn’t enumerate a federal power to regulate immigration. In fact it clearly and unambiguously reserves that power to the states. That makes the statute Judge Napolitano references unconstitutional, and the executive order hinging on it void. Obviously states have standing to sue when the federal government usurps a power the Constitution reserves to them.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.

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Trump’s Wall: Be Careful What You Wish For

East German construction workers building the ...
East German construction workers building the Berlin Wall. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Remember Donald Trump’s promise to not only build a US-Mexico border wall, but make Mexico pay for it? If that promise sounded sketchy, maybe even ridiculous when he made it, his campaign’s March 31 memo to the Washington Post makes it sound like an authoritarian, and likely disastrous, extortion scheme.

Trump’s proposal, in a nutshell, is to abuse provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act — allegedly intended to fight terrorism — to promulgate a proposed rule which would stop undocumented Mexican workers in the US from sending money home to their families.

Since such “remittances,” according to Trump, come to nearly $25 billion per year, the Mexican government would gladly fork over a one-time payment of several billion dollars for the wall rather than lose the ongoing economic boost they get from the remittances. They cough up, Trump withdraws the proposed rule.

Pretty much the typical mob-style muscle job: “Nice mutually beneficial trade and labor arrangement we got here. Be a shame if anything happened to it …”

One problem with the scheme is that the incentive for the Mexican government to agree seems to exist only in Trump’s imagination. If Mexico doesn’t pay for the wall, he cuts off remittances from undocumented immigrant workers. If Mexico DOES pay for the wall, and if it works as advertised, the number of undocumented immigrant workers getting through and sending remittances home plummets anyway. Why pay for the same results one would expect from not paying?

Fortunately it probably wouldn’t work. “Securing the border” is a dystopian fantasy for tyrants to indulge and for demagogues to sell to us panicky rubes, not something that can actually be done.

But suppose it COULD work? The big problem with the idea (above and beyond the sheer immorality of trying to bar peaceful human travel, that is) isn’t so much with how to finance it as with how badly it would damage the US economy if it was built and if it worked.

Yes, Americans like to bellyache about “them foreigners, taking our jobs.” But Americans also like to buy fruit, vegetables and poultry at reasonable prices. Cut out the undocumented immigrant work force and there’s a different kind of bellyache to worry about: The bellyache of hunger. To the extent that those things remain available at all with a million workers missing from the fields, they’re going to get real expensive, real fast.

Ditto roofing, landscaping and a bunch of other jobs Americans want done but don’t particularly want to do themselves and certainly won’t do for others for the pay an undocumented immigrant will accept.

Mexico might pay for the wall, but not nearly as much as you would pay for it. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.

PUBLICATION/CITATION HISTORY

“Secure the Border”: Politician-Speak for “I’m a Tyrant Who Thinks You’re an Idiot”

East German construction workers building the ...
East German construction workers building the Berlin Wall. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

About 30 years ago, in southern California, US Border Patrol officers pulled over the vehicle I was riding in to search for “illegal immigrants.” They carefully checked the ID of each occupant in the vehicle. Yes, all 30 or so of us. The vehicle was a bus marked “US Marine Corps” on the side. All its occupants were Marines in uniform.

That was during Ronald Reagan’s first term; in the Republican primary debates in 1980, Reagan and his eventual vice-president, George HW Bush, had worked diligently to outdo each other in their support for open borders. My, how times have changed.

Given the widespread moral panic and bedwetting security theatrics over “illegal immigration” that characterize the last two decades,  I shudder to think how much worse life must have become on the southern US border since then, especially for Americans and immigrants of Hispanic descent.

When I hear a candidate for office quack about “securing the border,” I dismiss that candidate as unworthy of my vote or support. So should you.  At best, that candidate is an idiot; more likely he or she is a demagogue who assumes YOU are an idiot.

The United States has more than 100,000 miles of border and coastline, across which more than 500 million people (350 million of them non-citizens), 118 million vehicles and 22.5 million cargo containers travel each year. No, I didn’t make those numbers up — I got them from the people in charge of “securing America’s borders,” US Customs and Border Protection.

It’s true that the US border with Mexico is “only” about 1,950 miles long, but it’s also irrelevant. Even if that border could be sealed — and it can’t be — unauthorized traffic across it would just take to the seas. If you don’t believe me, go ask a Cuban or Chinese “illegal immigrant.”

Attempts to “secure the border” can only have two consequences:

First, they can increase the likelihood of terror attacks and so forth by creating a sea of “illegal aliens” and a lucrative industry based on getting them into the US. Actual terrorists and other evildoers become invisible in that sea and have at their disposal an illicit travel industry that would not exist absent the large demand created by “border security” nonsense.

Second, they can turn the US into a police state like East Germany. In fact, they have arguably already done exactly that to the southern border zones. It’s worth remembering that the East Germans were never really able to “secure their border” either, thank God.

And yet candidates of both major parties for all elective offices continue to publicly pay obeisance to the dumb and evil notion of “securing the borders.” Why? Because they think you want them to.

Prove them wrong. Vote Libertarian.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.

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