Donald Trump recently published a policy statement on immigration, stating, “A nation without borders is not a nation. [Therefore] There must be a wall across the southern border.” Adding that “Mexico must pay for the wall.” Additionally Trump wants to “Cut-off federal grants to any city which refuses to cooperate with federal law enforcement [in regards to immigration law].” (i.e. sanctuary cities) And he wants to end birthright citizenship, claiming “no sane country would give automatic citizenship to the children of illegal immigrants.”
There are numerous problems with Trumps position on immigration. For starters, as reported by the Washington Post, “The history of the United States… shows that borders – and nations – can exist without immigration restrictions. Until the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, the federal government did not forbid voluntary immigration. Indeed, the original meaning of the Constitution did not give Congress the power to do so, allowing it to restrict eligibility for citizenship, but not to forbid migration.” Adding that Argentina does “not restrict immigration. Few would argue that Argentina is not a real nation, that it has no borders, or that it somehow ceased to exist when it adopted a virtual open borders policy towards migrants in 2004.”
I seriously doubt that Donald Trump would argue that the United States was not a nation until 1882, or that Argentina is not a nation unto itself. Argentina is also one of 32 countries in additional to the United States of America that grants birthright citizenship to everyone born within the borders of the country, including children born to tourists and undocumented immigrants. That list also includes Mexico, a country which many so-called conservatives point to as a model for US immigration laws.
Earlier this year, former Mexican President Felipe Calderon said, “Many [immigrants] are currently trapped. There are a lot of these people [who] want to be in Mexico eight months every year, but they are unable to go there, because if they cross the border, they will never be able to cross back again.” Adding, “I don’t believe that most of the Mexican workers looking for a job in the United States are wanting to be American citizens. They are looking for an opportunity to get economic benefits and actually thinking when they are leaving [Mexico] what will be the way in which they can go back to their own home.”
In regards to sanctuary cities, I have to wonder if Donald Trump would have opposed northern nullification of the Fugitive Slave Acts! The Tenth Amendment Center reports, “one of the driving forces behind personal liberty laws was the number of free blacks kidnapped and forced into slavery. Under the Fugitive Slave Act, they had no recourse. They started under the presumption of guilt, and the process made it impossible to prove otherwise.” The primary difference between nullification of the Fugitive Slave Acts and the existence of so-called sanctuary cities is that the Constitution explicitly authorized the Fugitive Slave Acts, however it did not give Congress the power to regulate immigration. In fact, The US Supreme Court has ruled the federal government “cannot require cities and states to hold and hand over detainees.”
Instead of treating people seeking a little economic prosperity as criminals who are incarcerated and fined, people seeking to improve their life should be allowed to do so without interference from a government as long as they are not violating the life, liberty or property of any other person.