U.S. IMMIGRATION POLICY, AMERICAN CITIZENSHIP,
& THE WORK OF THE CLAREMONT INSTITUTE
By Brian T. Kennedy
We have spent a quarter of a century learning the principles that have provided the foundation for this great American experiment in freedom, and figuring out how those principles should inform the way we think about current controversies, especially immi- gration and citizenship. In turn, we have developed a distinctive Claremont Institute view about these matters, a view distinguished by deep roots in the American political tradi- tion and a reliance on the principles of the American Founding. Questions of immigration and citizenship were discussed at length by the Founding Fathers--Thomas Jefferson was among the most articulate of them--and so we turn to the Founders to better understand the politics of immigration reform today.
While writing his Notes on the State of Virginia in 1781-1782, Thomas Jefferson took up the question of immigration. The United States of America was then a new and highly fragile constitutional republic and weak union of former colonies (now states) in a world dominated by large, powerful empires with absolute or near-absolute monarchies and other authoritarian or near-authoritarian governments. Some argued that the quickest way to increase American power was to increase American population, and that this would best be zccomplished by encouraging unlimited immigration to the Unired States from people around the globe.
Jefferson agreed that America's vast unpopulated lands should be open to people who were industrious and wanted to work, but he also understood the subtle effects that im- migration might have on the American national character, or national culture. He cau- tioned his fellow Americans to consider the moral and political habits that immigrants would bring with them, and to judge which immigrants would be more likely to conduct themselves as good American citizens. Jefferson wrote:
Many of the people immigrating to the United States would not understand those free principles derived from natural right and natural reason, predicted Jefferson. Instead,
Jefferson thought it would be nothing less than "a miracle were they to stop precisely at the point of temperate liberty."
In turn, said Jefferson, some immigrants would be inclined to transmit to their children the principles of the old regime from which they fled, along with its language and cus- toms, instead of embracing the American principles of freedom. Over the course of time, warned Jefferson, this could damage the very fabric of American politics and society, be- cause " in proportion to their numbers, they will share with us the legislation. They will infuse into it their spirit, warp and bias its direction, and render it a heterogeneous, inco- herent, distracted mass."
Jefferson and the other Founding Fathers, therefore, took the position that America would welcome to its shores those with a desire to live freely, to work and better the condition of themselves and their families, and, above all, to become good American citizens. But the Founders understood that Americans always reserve the right to keep out anyone we think might not possess the capacity for meeting the duties and and re- sponsibilities of citizenship, or who might pose a threat to our safety or happiness. After all, no one has a right to immigrate to America, but the American government has an absolute duty to protect the rights and safety of the American people.
This general view of the Founding Fathers guided American immigration policy from the 1790s until the 1960s, when the adherents of Leftwing Liberalism and multiculturalism began to attack the meaning of American citizenship and undermine American immigra- tion policies. The Islamic terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, are only the most vis- ible of the disasterous effects--foremost being the serious breach of national security-- caused by Liberal Leftist and multiculturalist immigration policies.
Today, American immigration policy stands as a monument to the multicultural political and intellectual Left, where it is considered racist to be selective about who is allowed to immigrate to the United States, where celebrating the languages, cultures, and principles of immigrant groups is praised in the name of "diversity," while praising the American political tradition, and the men and women who have sacrificed to make it work, is de- nounced as "ethnocentric" bigotry and intolerance.
At the heart of the immigration problem is the question of what it means to be an Ameri- can citizen--or whether it means anything at all. And if it does mean something, are Americans prepared to demand of those who immigrate here that they conduct them- selves as good citizens, which means, first and foremost, that they obey American immi- gration laws.
These are burning questions that Americans talk about with great passion. The future of our country depends on the answers. Yet, most politicians and government officials of both political parties seem afraid to discuss the questions and possible answers in an honest and principled way.
Consider that, just recently, the United States Treasury Department, under the authority of a Republican administration, issued new banking regulations that recognize identifica- tion cards issued by foreign govermnments, such as the Mexican Matricular Consular card, as valid forms of identification. The only people who need these foreign authorized cards are those immigrants who are in the United States illegally and cannot obtain legal American credentials. The foreign authorized cards make it possible for illegal aliens, including terrorists who come here with the intention of bringing us harm, to open bank- ing accounts and conduct business as though they were American citizens.
At Claremont Institute, there is no subject we're afraid to discuss. Our interest is in de- fending the principles of freedom, and, when the future of America is at stake, we're ea- ger to plunge right in, no matter how politically incorrect we might be. Instead of basing our opinions on the latest media trend, or what the sages of Harvard tell us, we look to the timeless principles of our country's founding for guidance on today's problems. It is what distinguishes the Claremont Institute from every other political organization.
For example, the Claremont Institute has been almost alone in debunking the current policy of birthright citizenship--the idea that a child born on American soil is automatic- ally an American citizen, regardless of the legal status of his or her parents. This notion is based on the Citizenship Clause in the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution--the amendment's opening clause, which provides: "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherin they reside." Many illegal immigrants use the birthright citizenship policy, bringing a pregnant woman into the U.S.A, so that her child, once born within America's borders, becomes an "anchor baby," a situation which allows the other family members to legally immigrate to the United States and gain citizenship.
However, as Claremont Senior Fellow Edward Erler has demonstrated, the authors of the Fourteenth Amendment never intended any such thing. U.S. Senator Jacob Howard, who drafted the Citizenship Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, emphatically stated that those "subject to the juristiction" of the United States "will not, of course, include persons born in the United States who are foreigners or aliens." Foreigners, especially illegal immigrants, are not "subject to the jurisdiction" of the United States--they are, in fact, in violation of the laws and jurisdiction of the United States--and therefore their children cannot be American citizens, regardless of whether they might be born on American ground. Current federal immigration law, however, flies in the face of the plain intentions of the Fourteenth Amendment.
Perhaps, the greatest obstacle today to sound immigration policy is that the American Left has been very successful in convincing Americans that they should be ashamed of their own national culture. The idea of encouraging immigrants to adopt American prin- ciples, values, customs, and traditions has become anathema to the intellectual and political elite in the U.S.A. Driven by the ideology of multiculturalism, the members of this elite prefer a society fragmented into ethnic groups antagonistic and hostile to one another and characterized by a very weak or non-existent sense of common American national identity and loyalty to the U.S.A. This goes far in explaining why the United States government today allows dual citizenship, where new American citizens can and do retain their loyalty to foreign governments.
The policies of multiculturalism have kept generations of immigrant children at a disad- vantage through bilingual education, which is not even supported by a majority of the immigrant parents--they know that being fluent in English and understanding the princi- ples of free government and free markets are key to the success of their children. But teachers' unions, Liberal legislators and government bureaucrats, as well as Liberal Leftist organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) do support bilin- gual education, because they know that immigrants--or the sons and daughters of immi- grants--who lack the tools to succeed on their own are more likely to be clients of the Liberal welfare state and vote to keep Liberal politicians in office.
From the Founders' point of view, it was important to consider the character of the peo- ple coming to America, because more is expected of a free people than any other. George Washington, for example, welcomed people "of all nations and religions"--but he qualified it by requiring that "by decency and propriety of conduct they appear to merit the enjoyment [of our rights and privileges]."
Our immigration policies have deteriorated so much, however, that, far from judging the character of immigrants, today it is difficult even to keep criminal aliens out of the coun- try. Until recently, the U.S. government made little effort to deport immigrants, even illegal immigrants, who had committed felonies in the United States.
At the Claremont Institute, we are aiming our educational efforts at both ends of the immigration process: (1) legislators and policy makers who draft immigration policies and (2) immigrants who are subject to those policies.
It is urgent to change the mindset of the government officials and citizens who are so mired in multiculturalism that they have lost all common sense about limiting who can be admitted into the United States.
It's just as urgent to teach immigrants what citizenship in this country means. We are almost unique in the world, in that immigrants can come to America and become full citizens, participating fully in American politics and benefiting from the freedom and prosperity America offers.
Today, however, many immigrants who come here lawfully, with a sincere desire to bet- ter their lives and give all they can to their new country, fail to understand that they too have a claim to the principles articulated in the Declaration of Independence, and all that those principles imply. We at the Claremont Institute want to show them, and help heal the fragmentation of our society and its terrible effects on our civic life.
Here are some of the things the Claremont Institute is doing to remedy these problems:
There is a massive gulf between the opinions of citizens and the opinions of lawmakers and the media on what American immigration policies should be. Our most important aim is to let the American people know that their common sense ideas about immigration are right. We have the right to control how many people come here and where they come from. We have the right to judge whether we like their ideas, and whether we think they would make good American citizens. We have the right to demand that people who come here to live learn to speak English and learn what it means to be an American. It is in our interest to exercise these rights--to exercise them in order to ensure our safety and happiness. It is also in the interest of those immigramnts who come here with the right intentions--immigrants who are determined to become good Americans and want to be distinguished from immigrants who break the laws and snub the duties of citizenship.
Still More on Immigration & Illegal Aliens
More on Conservative Political & Cultural Organizations
Brian T. Kennedy is President of the Claremont Institute for the Study of Statesmanship and Political Philosophy, a Conservative organization. The Claremont Institute is located at 937 West Foothill Boulevard, Suite E, Claremont California, 01711. The Institute maintains a website at www.claremont.org.
Africa: Black Africa *
Africa: North Africa *
American Government 1
American Government 2 * American Government 3 * American Government 4
American Government 5 * American Politics * Anglosphere * Arabs
Arms Control & WMD * Aztlan Separatists * Big Government
Black Africa * Bureaucracy * Canada * China * Civil Liberties * Communism
Congress, U.S. * Conservative Groups * Conservative vs. Liberal
Constitutional Law * Counterterrorism * Criminal Justice * Disloyalty * Economy
Education * Elections, U.S. * Eminent Domain * Energy & Environment
English-Speaking World * Ethnicity & Race * Europe * Europe: Jews
Family Values * Far East * Fiscal Policy, U.S. * Foreign Aid, U.S. * Foreign Policy, U.S.
France * Hispanic Separatism * Hispanic Treason * Human Health * Immigration
Infrastructure, U.S. * Intelligence, U.S. * Iran * Iraq * Islamic North Africa
Islamic Threat * Islamism * Israeli vs. Arabs * Jews & Anti-Semitism
Jihad & Jihadism * Jihad Manifesto I * Jihad Manifesto II * Judges, U.S. Federal
Judicial Appointments * Judiciary, American * Latin America * Latino Separatism
Latino Treason * Lebanon * Leftists/Liberals * Legal Issues
Local Government, U.S. * Marriage & Family * Media Political Bias
Middle East: Arabs * Middle East: Iran * Middle East: Iraq * Middle East: Israel
Middle East: Lebanon * Middle East: Syria * Middle East: Tunisia
Middle East: Turkey * Militant Islam * Military Defense * Military Justice
Military Weaponry * Modern Welfare State * Morality & Decency
National Identity * National Security * Natural Resources * News Media Bias
North Africa * Patriot Act, USA * Patriotism * Political Culture * Political Ideologies
Political Parties * Political Philosophy * Politics, American * Presidency, U.S.
Private Property * Property Rights * Public Assistance * Radical Islam
Religion & America * Rogue States & WMD * Russia * Science & Ethics
Sedition & Treason * Senate, U.S. * Social Welfare Policy * South Africa
State Government, U.S. * Subsaharan Africa * Subversion * Syria * Terrorism 1
Terrorism 2 * Treason & Sedition * Tunisia * Turkey * Ukraine
UnAmerican Activity * UN & Its Agencies * USA Patriot Act * U.S. Foreign Aid
U.S. Infrastructure * U.S. Intelligence * U.S. Senate * War & Peace
Welfare Policy * WMD & Arms Control
POLITICAL EDUCATION, CONSERVATIVE ANALYSIS
POLITICS, SOCIETY, & THE SOVEREIGN STATE
Website of Dr. Almon Leroy Way, Jr.
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
An Online Journal of Political Commentary & Analysis
Dr. Almon Leroy Way, Jr., Editor