Is President Trump returning to form on immigration?
The White House is preparing an executive order that would allow state and local jurisdictions to deny entry to refugees even if they have been approved for settlement by the federal government, according to a draft of the policy obtained by NBC News.
The draft features language stating that “the federal government will resettle refugees only where both the relevant state and local governments have consented to participate.”
Under the order, the federal government would have to find another location for refugees if the jurisdiction in question does not agree to take them in. An exception would be made for the resettling of spouses or children of those already settled.
According to a DHS official, the plan is currently being reviewed by lawyers at various government agencies.
Peter Boogaard, a former Obama advisor who worked on immigration issues, criticized the order, claiming it would prevent religious organizations such as the Catholic Church from resettling refugees and “would also have a dramatic impact on the ability of future administrations to return refugee admissions to the normal historic levels.”
Boogaard’s comment appeared assume that “normal historic levels” are those that existed under the Obama administration.
Under President Trump, the limit on refugee admissions went down from 85,000 in fiscal year 2016 to 30,000 in fiscal year 2019 — and the administration is considering an additional reduction, with some officials advocating bringing it down to zero.
NBC cited “refugee rights organizations” that say refugees should be relocated in areas with refugees from the same country in order “to create a sense of community for those fleeing violence and persecution.”
The news outlet did not address the concern that building “communities” of refugees from the same county may preserve their culture, but at the expense of preventing them from adopting American culture. Furthermore, the cultures refugee communities preserve are often ones that are conducive to the social ills and persecution they escaped from in the first place.
Mark Hetfield, president and CEO of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS), an organization that resettles refugees under State Department agreements, argued that the proposed executive order would violate the federal government’s authority over immigration matters.
“Governors could elect not to take part in the refugee resettlement program,” Hetfield said. “That would have a horrible impact on the program. That would literally be an abdication of federal authority.”
He also called the developing policy a “malevolent and wasteful plan to concentrate refugees in blue states.” (Perhaps Hetfield would prefer to concentrate refugees in red states, in order to turn them blue.)
But Hetfield’s assertion that authority over immigration lies with the federal government doesn’t hold up to constitutional scrutiny.
While the U.S. Constitution does give the federal government the responsibility of defending our national borders, it is silent on the issue of immigration. As the 10th Amendment states, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”
Immigration falls into the sphere of such powers reserved to the states. This principle was long understood in American politics. As President Ulysses S. Grant noted in a memo to the House of Representatives during deliberation of the Civil War amendments, “Responsibility over immigration can only belong with the States since this is where the Constitution kept the power.”
Those who favor granting the federal government supremacy over immigration erroneously point to Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution, which gives Congress power to “establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization.”
The key is that there is a marked difference between naturalization and immigration — a difference refugee advocates try to blur.
Immigration is the act of coming to a country to which one is not a native. Naturalization is the conference of the rights of citizenship upon an alien.
In other words, Congress may get to decide the rules behind allowing foreigners to become U.S. citizens, but it’s up to the states to decide whom they allow into their own sovereign territories.
The New American writer Joe Wolverton made this case in 2015, when 31 state governors declared their intent to refuse entry to Syrian refugees.
At the time, the governors’ declarations were little more than an empty gesture. But that could change if the Trump administration follows through with the executive order on refugee settlement.
Letting states decide whether to accept or reject refugees would not only be a win for the America Frst side of the migration debate, it would constitute a major victory for the Constitution and for states’ rights.
Reprinted with permission from - The New American - by Luis Miguel