“TO ESTABLISH AN UNIFORM RULE OF NATURALIZATION…”
by Sharon Rondeau
(Sep. 6, 2017) — On Tuesday morning, Attorney General Jeff Sessions held a press conference during which he announced that the Trump administration is “rescinding” the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, initiated by a June 2012 memorandum, in what he anticipates will be a “lawful, orderly wind-down.”
During his remarks, which lasted approximately 15 minutes, Sessions characterized DACA as an “unconstitutional exercise of authority by the executive branch” carried out by the Obama administration. “The policy was implemented unilaterally to great controversy and legal concern after Congress rejected legislative proposals to extend similar benefits on numerous occasions to this same group of illegal aliens,” he said.
Article I of the U.S. Constitution states that “All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives” and that one of its responsibilities is “To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization, and uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States;…”
Since the announcement was made, congressional supporters of DACA dismayed with the president’s decision have pledged to thwart his plan to end it. While Democrats are likely united in their desire to extend the program, Republicans are reportedly “divided.”
The deferred deportation reportedly benefited approximately 800,000 young illegals, although the media has not estimated the number of relatives of DACA recipients are in the country without legal status.
Sessions and President Donald Trump have said that Congress should now work to craft legislation addressing the DACA youths and other immigration matters, as the U.S. Constitution delegates.
The website of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) now shows an update reflecting the “change” indicated by Sessions.
As Obama himself had noted prior to the issuance of the June 15, 2012 DHS memorandum creating DACA, the executive branch does not make law; that responsibility belongs to Congress as representatives of the people. “I am president; I am not a king,” he said in October 2010 when speaking about “comprehensive immigration reform,” one of his early but unachieved goals.
The 2012 memo, signed by then-DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano, set forth “criteria” for the removal of illegal aliens “who came to the United States as children” designating them as a low removal priority. She wrote that the memo invoked only “prosecutorial discretion” within federal law and not a conferral of “immigration status.”
The final paragraph of the memo reads:
In explaining the June 15, 2012 memorandum, USCIS echoed that “Deferred action does not provide lawful status.“
Since 1789, when the Constitution was ratified, Congress has passed a number of laws on the subject of immigration. The first Congress passed the Naturalization Act of 1790 which, in part, deemed the children of U.S. citizens born in a foreign country “natural born Citizens.”
Five years later, Congress repealed the Act and replaced it with a new law which removed that particular determination.
Throughout history, U.S. immigration numbers decreased during times of economic depression and war.
The 1921, Congress passed the the Emergency Quota Act, which favored northern and western European immigrants over those from eastern and southern Europe at a time when many perceived that the latter would not assimilate well into American life. The law limited immigration “from any country” to 3% of the number of naturalized American citizens from each country as reflected in the 1910 census.
In 1924, amidst a tightening of immigration policy, the Johnson-Reed Act lowered the “national origins” 3% quota to 2% based on the 1890 census. Under the Act, “Arabs” and “Asians” were not admitted to the country at all.
In 1952, the McCarran-Walter Act, or Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), was passed, organizing existing immigration statutes, maintaining the quota system, and defining who is and is not a U.S. citizen based on various factors.
The term “alien” was used for “any person not a citizen or national of the United States.” The law defines a “national” as a person who is a U.S. citizen or “a person who, though not a citizen of the United States, owes permanent allegiance to the United States.”
Along with barring “insane” individuals and those with other infirmities from entering, the Act established the number of entry visas to be granted based on a variety of conditions and vested the responsibility for certain decisions with the U.S. attorney general and/or secretary of state.
It was expected that “aliens” wishing to come to the United States would apply for a visa.
In 1965, the Hart-Celler Act, strongly advocated by the late Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA), ultimately “changed the face of America,” according to a 2006 NPR report. At the time of its signing, President Lyndon Johnson had guaranteed that it would not “affect the lives of millions,” but rather, make the admission of foreigners more equitable.
The Act changed the quota system established by prior laws and, according to one source, “prompted a massive increase in total immigration.” In 1964, then-Vice President Hubert Humphrey declared the purpose of new legislation would be to eliminate the perception that “second-class citizens” existed in the U.S.
Today, some describe the “quota” system as “racist.”
Thirty years after its enactment, the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) reported that through its effort to frame the law as an extension of “civil rights” to foreigners, it “inaugurated a new era of mass immigration which has affected the lives of millions.”
The September 1, 1995 article concluded:
The unexpected result has been one of the greatest waves of immigration in the nation’s history — more than 18 million legal immigrants since the law’s passage, over triple the number admitted during the previous 30 years, as well as uncountable millions of illegal immigrants. And the new immigrants are more likely to stay (rather than return home after a time) than those who came around the turn of the century. Moreover, this new, enlarged immigration flow came from countries in Asia and Latin America which heretofore had sent few of their sons and daughters to the United States. And finally, although the average level of education of immigrants has increased somewhat over the past 30 years, the negative gap between their education and that of native-born Americans has increased significantly, creating a mismatch between newcomers and the needs of a modern, high-tech economy.
Two decades later, in 2015, The Atlantic wrote, “No law passed in the 20th century altered the country’s demographic character quite so thoroughly. But its effects were largely inadvertent. The law’s biggest impact on immigration patterns resulted from provisions meant to thwart its ability to change much at all.”
The legislation shifted visa preferences from the quota system to relatives of people already in the U.S. with legal status. “The 1965 immigration law quickly transformed the ethnic portrait of the United States,” the Migration Policy Institute reported.
In June 2010, the educational-resource company, ABC-CLIO, promoted a new book, “Daily Life of the New Americans by Christopher Strobel. Detailing U.S. immigrants’ experiences since 1965, the introduction reads, “The foreign-born population in the United States, hailing from nations around the globe, increased from an estimated 9.7 million in 1960 to an estimated 35.2 million in 2005. A remarkable 12.1 percent of the U.S. population was born in a foreign country.”
Strobel described immigrants as “changing the face of the American nation.”
In 1986, Congress passed the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA), which amended the INA with the stated purpose of effecting “legalization of undocumented aliens who had been continuously unlawfully present since 1982, legalization of certain agricultural workers, sanctions for employers who knowingly hire undocumented workers, and increased enforcement at U.S. borders.“
While legalizing “undocumented” individuals who could prove that they had been present in the U.S. since before January 1, 1982 and been of “good moral character,” the Act also sought to strengthen border protection. Critics of the law have characterized it as “amnesty” for illegal aliens and maintained that President Ronald Reagan made a major mistake in signing it.
A 2001 white paper published by DHS reports that 33% of the approximately 2.7 million people granted permanent residence by IRCA became U.S. citizens.
In 2009, NumbersUSA, which seeks lower overall immigration levels to the U.S., reported that since 1986, six million illegals “received amnesty.” The organization lists “seven amnesties” which Congress has passed since 1986 which extended legalization to various groups of people.
One source states that both supporters and critics of IRCA deem it to be “a failure.” “It didn’t keep illegal workers out of the workplace, it didn’t deal with at least 2 million undocumented immigrants who ignored the law or were ineligible to come forward, and most of all, it didn’t stop the flow of illegal immigrants into the country,” wrote ThoughtCo in April.
In 2013, the U.S. Senate passed an immigration reform bill, S. 744, spearheaded by what came to be known as the “Gang of 8.” That proposal, known as the DREAM Act and similar to IRCA in some ways, emphasized improved border security but would have allowed certain illegals to receive the designation of “registered provisional immigrant status (RPI)” after the borders were deemed to be adequately secured.
The House, then led by Rep. John Boehner, did not take up the bill, much to Obama’s chagrin.
Following Sessions’s announcement, hundreds of students walked out of their classrooms in Colorado and hundreds more protesters filled the streets in New York City; Washington, DC, Chicago and other cities to voice their displeasure at the decision.
Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL), said to be the “founder of the DREAMER movement,” reacted with:
Starting this countdown clock will require Congress to act fast to stop rolling mass deportations of hundreds of thousands of young people—students, teachers, doctors, engineers, first responders, servicemembers, and more. Families will be torn apart and America will lose many of our best and brightest unless Republicans join with Democrats to right this wrong immediately. I first introduced the Dream Act sixteen years ago to ensure these young people could stay here, in the only country they’ve ever known. Now Congress must act on this bipartisan bill, and act now. These families cannot wait.
On Wednesday, the Associated Press reported that a group of 15 states and the District of Columbia filed a lawsuit over the planned phasing-out of DACA.
Of the program’s participants, all of whom are under the age of 36 and were brought to the U.S. as children, CIS’s Executive Director Mark Krikorian said that their situation could have been solved if Congress had demonstrated a “willingness to compromise” on various aspects of immigration reform.
In 2014, a midterm election year, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan decried DACA as “blatantly unconstitutional” and “going around Congress.” “You can’t unilaterally write a law as the executive,” Ryan said, referencing a lawsuit the House planned to file to limit Obama’s perceived executive overreach.
Last week, Ryan urged Trump to maintain DACA until Congress could pass legislation addressing it and other immigration issues.
On November 19, 2014, the day before Obama was to declare further “executive actions” to change immigration “law” unilaterally, then-Speaker John Boehner posted on his website that the “American people” were strongly opposed to such a move, citing the midterm election earlier that month which saw more Republicans voted in to the House and Senate.
Boehner referred to Obama’s expected declarations as “executive amnesty.”
Announced on November 20, 2014, Obama’s proposal encompassed granting legal status, although purportedly not citizenship, to relatives of DACA recipients and others with U.S. residency or citizenship, estimated to contemplate between 4 and 5 million people. Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court was evenly split in an appeal mounted by the Obama administration following the opinion of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals that the proposal, known as “DAPA,” was unconstitutional.
Because the high court was deadlocked, the lower court’s decision stood. An appeal by the Obama White House to the Supreme Court for a rehearing was denied.
The number of illegal aliens in the U.S. has long been reported as approximately 11 million, but that number may be much higher. A report issued last October stated that immigration, both authorized and unauthorized, is adding 8.3 million foreign-born persons to the U.S. population “every four years and that some of the fastest rates of migration are coming from countries hostile to American values of freedom and democracy.”
On Wednesday, Ryan told a Republican leadership group that Trump “made the right call” by asking Congress to solve the DACA issue. Urging “people” to “rest easy,” Ryan pledged to work with Trump to arrive at a “compromise” immigration bill in the six months until DACA begins to shed participants under the new guidelines.
Some Republicans appear to favor a revival, albeit in “conservative” terms, of the DREAM Act.
After Sessions’s press conference, The Post & Email reached out to D.A. King, president of the Georgia-based Dustin Inman Society, named after a 16-year-old boy who was killed by an illegal alien driver in 2000, to ask his views on the DACA decision.
We are happy that the President has again noted the fact that Obama’s executive amnesty is unconstitutional. We praise AG Sessions for his fearless diligence and we hope this represents at least a beginning of a return to sanity and legality on immigration. We also note that candidate Trump promised that President Trump would terminate DACA on “day one.” We wish that promise had been kept on day one, as for most Americans, allowing illegal government policies to simmer for six months is unacceptable. Americans playing attention should now expect the mass immigration lobby to use the next six months to push for congressional action for the DACA recipients, but also to use the topic to once again attempt to repeat the “one time” amnesty of 1986 for all illegal aliens and to double or triple our already too high legal immigration numbers.
To be clear: We are quite pleased that DACA has been rescinded. Because it is illegal.
The Post & Email’s interviews with King, as well as with Billy Inman, Dustin’s father, can be accessed here.