The US Supreme Court is hearing arguments for and against Arizona’s Know-Nothing Appeasement Law this week. All of the sides are clearly wrong about one or more major issues, but (as is so often the case) US Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) garners the award for Dumbest Sound Byte of the Day:
Immigration has not and never has been an area where states are able to exercise independent authority.
In point of fact, the states exercised the only political authority over immigration into the United States from its founding until the late 19th century.
The US Constitution, as ratified, explicitly forbade the federal government to interfere with state control over immigration for 20 years:
Article I, Section 9: 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, but a Tax or duty may be imposed on such Importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each Person.
Additionally, the US Constitution, as ratified, forbade its own amendment to change that for 20 years:
Article V: … no Amendment which may be made prior to the Year One thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any Manner affect the first and fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Article …
That was not accidental. It was debated, and those favoring a federal immigration power lost, primarily because such a power would likely have kept the Constitution from being ratified both in the slave-holding south and industrializing (and therefore immigration-encouraging) Pennsylvania.
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