(Editor’s note: This is Part One of a three-part series on solutions to America’s illegal immigration problem.)
With his thick Austrian accent, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger quipped in his commencement address at Emory University last week, “I was also going to give a graduation speech in Arizona this weekend. But with my accent, I was afraid they would try to deport me.”
It seems that the whole country is taking sides in the battle over the border in Arizona. Yet it truly remains the tip of the iceberg of our immigration troubles. Spurred on by the national debate, at least 10 other states are now seeking to enact tougher illegal immigration laws.
Now, more than ever, we must protect our borders and sovereignty by providing genuine solutions to the dangers of American boundary fluidity. With estimates showing that by 2060 America will add 167 million people (37 million immigrants today will multiply into 105 million then), it is imperative for us to do more to solve this crisis. Now is the time to beat the doors of change and save the boundaries and future of America.
The federal government has miserably failed to produce a viable solution to the illegal immigrant crisis. Amnesty is not the answer. And immigration laws aren’t effective if we continue to dodge or ignore them. Furthermore, globalization efforts have only confused security matters, further endangering our borders as well as our national identity – our sovereignty. And the question that keeps coming to my mind is: How is it that we can secure borders in the Middle East, but we can’t secure our own?
From America’s birth, our founders struggled, too, with international enemies and border troubles, from the sea of Tripoli to the Western frontier. While welcoming the poor, downtrodden and persecuted from every country, they also had to protect the sacred soil they called home from unwanted intruders.
According to the Declaration of Independence, “obstructing the Laws for the Naturalization of Foreigners” was one of the objections leveled against Britain that warranted the American colonists’ secession. Yet even the founders themselves believed that a total open-door policy for immigrants would only lead to complete community and cultural chaos.
Under the Articles of Confederation (our “first constitution”), each state possessed the authority over naturalization. Such diversity, however, led the founders at the Constitutional Convention to shift the power of naturalization to the federal government. The Constitution therefore reads in Article I, Section 8, that Congress shall have the authority to “establish a uniform rule of naturalization.”
We discuss and debate new ways to resolve the social crisis we call illegal immigration, but our founders again pointed the way more than 200 years ago. Like enrolling in an Ivy League school, they considered and promoted American citizenship as a high honor. James Madison shared the collective sentiment back then when he stated, “I do not wish that any man should acquire the privilege, but such as would be a real addition to the wealth or strength of the United States.” Hence, they processed applicants and selected only the ones that contributed to the building up and advancement of their grand experiment called America.
America’s founders were also concerned with properly assimilating immigrants so that their presence would be positive upon the culture. George Washington wrote, “By an intermixture with our people, they, or their descendants, get assimilated to our customs, measures, laws: in a word soon become one people.” Thomas Jefferson, hailed as one of the most inclusive among the founders, worried that some immigrants would leave more restrictive governments and not be able to handle American freedoms, leading to cultural corruption and “an unbounded licentiousness, passing, as is usual, from one extreme to another. It would be a miracle were they to stop precisely at the point of temperate liberty. These principles, with their language, they will transmit to their children. 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 tender it a heterogeneous, incoherent, distracted mass.” And Alexander Hamilton insisted that “the safety of a republic depends essentially on the energy of a common national sentiment; on a uniformity of principles and habits; on the exemption of citizens from foreign bias and prejudice; and on the love of country which will almost invariably be found to be closely connected with birth, education, and family.”
Therefore, our founders enforced four basic requirements for “enrollment and acceptance” into American citizenry that we still utilize (at least in policy) to this day but desperately need to enforce. The Heritage Foundation summarizes:
Key criteria for citizenship of the Naturalization Act of 1795 remain part of American law. These include 1) five years of (lawful) residence within the United States; 2) a good moral character, attached to the principles of the Constitution of the United States, and well disposed to the good order and happiness of the United States; 3) the taking of a formal oath to support the Constitution and to renounce any foreign allegiance; and 4) the renunciation of any hereditary titles.
Just think if such immigration tenets were taught in schools like Live Oak High School in Northern California, where kids are confused about allegiances to flags and countries. And just think if the federal government actually enforced such tenets! Arizona (and now 10 other states following suit) wouldn’t even need to go out on a limb and create their own immigration law, as states did prior to our Constitution. If we held citizenship in the same high esteem as our founders, and simply enforced the laws we already have, we wouldn’t be in this illegal immigration pickle today.
Musician Charlie Daniels put it well, when he wrote, “I don’t blame anybody in the world for wanting to come to the United States of America, as it is a truly wonderful place. But when the first thing you do when you set foot on American soil is illegal, it is flat-out wrong, and I don’t care how many lala-land left heads come out of the woodwork and start trying to give me sensitivity lessons. I don’t need sensitivity lessons. In fact, I don’t have anything against Mexicans. I just have something against criminals, and anybody who comes into this country illegally is a criminal. If you don’t believe it, try coming into America from a foreign country without a passport and see how far you get.”
(Next week in Part Two, Chuck will lay out our founders’ and his plan for dealing with the 12 million-plus illegal immigrants in our country today. For more on how to reawaken America to our founders’ vision and plans for this country, check out Chuck Norris’ brand new YouTube patriot service announcement.)