How Congress lost its Immigration Authority
While the Constitution gives Congress the exclusive power to "establish a uniform rule" of naturalization, this power has been usurped by the actions of many politicians in the past 40 years.
I have written many times here in AT about what states have done to usurp this Congressional authority and in this piece will focus on those actions that are in most direct defiance of the Constitution.
The story of how illegal immigration has grown is best told from an historical perspective. In 1942, as the U.S. began to build up industry for the war effort, it was thought that a guest worker program should be established to enable Mexican nationals to legally cross the border and do seasonal work in agriculture, freeing citizens to work in war industries.
This "Bracero" program, as it was called, was the beginning of interference in immigration regulation. This is because the Bracero program was not established by Congress but by an agreement between the U.S. Ambassador to Mexico and the Mexican Minister of Foreign Affairs.
The program was fairly successful but the most important thing to note about it was that it was cancelled during the Johnson administration at about the same time that LBJ started his "Great Society" benefit initiative. I have argued that these benefits support illegal immigration in sanctuary cities. The movement of Hispanic immigrants was slow in the early 1970s, but then in 1979 the city of Los Angeles (LAPD) decided to "declare" its authority over immigration and proclaimed, through its Special Order 40, that it would not inquire into the immigration status of anyone.
Since Los Angeles has no legal authority in immigration issues its policy basically functioned as a public relations announcement: that L.A. would reach out to illegal immigrants and welcome them into the city.
In 1985, Chicago's Mayor Harold Washington followed L.A.'s example and proclaimed that Chicago would not inquire into the immigration status of its "residents." Since Chicago has no legal authority with regard to immigration law -- other than refer cases to the INS -- the statement had no legal meaning. The policy did, however, include the statement that all city benefits, programs, and employment opportunities would be available to all residents regardless of immigration status. A few months later New York City's Mayor Koch also made a similar proclamation in the form of a "memo" to city departments. That memo was virtually identical to the Executive Order issued by Chicago's Mayor Washington and was intended to encourage and support, with a number of benefits, illegal immigration.
The 1996, Immigration Act stated that while its policy was not to establish a benefit magnet, it left it up to states to decide whether or not to give benefits to illegal immigrants. This provided Federal benefit support to sanctuary cities.
Once Chicago had tested the waters with its 1985 EO and no legal challenges followed, it pushed the envelope farther. The seizure of Congressional authority increased after 2000. In 2001, when Mexican immigration slowed due to a recession, Chicago's Mayor Daley, working with Mexico, declared that the "matricula consular" a form of ID issued by foreign consulates, was a valid form of ID in Chicago. The President of Mexico cooperated with changes to Mexico's matricula consular card since he wanted to maintain the 20 billion dollars of remittance money sent to Mexico every year.
In 2003 the Cook County Commission Finance Committee joined in and stated that the matricula consular was as valid in the county. Then in 2005 the state of Illinois said the matricula consular was a valid form of ID. Only the Dept. of Homeland Security and State Department have the authority to decide what form of ID is valid for foreign nationals. So these I.D.-related declarations are also usurpations of Federal power.
In 2013 Illinois went further and decided to issue drivers' licenses to illegal immigrants, becoming the fourth state to do so. This violates the citizenship requirements of the Constitution and in effect globalizes vote fraud. The strategy worked: in the 2008 and 2012 elections Obama won by the Hispanic vote.
And while they have seized Congressional powers, Democrats talk about the "immigration issue" as if they are outside observers, as though it is happening on its own.
Since none of the actions taken by Democrats to promote and support illegal immigration in their local jurisdictions ever faced judicial review, after 2000 they began to actively challenge Congressional authority. For example, in 2006 when James Sensenbrenner wanted to make illegal immigration a felony through HR4437 Mayor Daley of Chicago said he would order his police to not enforce it. And the Cook County Board of Commissioners passed a Resolution stating their opposition to HR4437, urging Obama to veto it.
In 2010 when Arizona passed SB 1070 in an effort to begin to control the flow of illegal immigrants in their state, President Obama, who is from Chicago, had the Justice Dept. immediately sue Arizona. In effect, he wanted to protect illegal immigration. The Supreme Court ruled, in that case, that immigration is a Federal issue; a ruling that may return to haunt Democrats should the constitutionality of any of their actions be challenged.
In 2010 President Obama interfered with Federal enforcement of immigration law: he ordered detention centers to release illegal immigrants. In September 2012 Chicago passed a "welcoming ordinance" aimed to "prevent some undocumented immigrants from being detained or deported by federal immigration authorities." This ordinance restated Chicago's commitment of welcoming illegal immigrants. These practices are not limited to Chicago. W.D. Reasoner of the Center for Immigration Studies has discussed how NYC and other Democratic cities interfere with immigration enforcement.
Democrats fight voter I.D. requirements in part because they want to retain their illegal immigrant electorate. Clearly, Democrats in active sanctuary cities and states now feel that immigration is completely under their local control.
Given this history an immigration reform bill is a waste of time. Democrats have taken outrageously illegal and unconstitutional actions to settle immigrants in the cities they control. Any new Congressional law will not be respected any more than the 1996 Act or the Constitution. When Democrats speak of "immigration reform" they are only reassuring their illegal constituents that they support them and will continue to work for their amnesty.
However, just as with their stated goal of "taxing the rich" Democrats have no desire to give up their appeal to illegal immigrants by providing them closure on the immigration issue. Proof is that they use Census data to confine them to highly segregated Hispanic wards and congressional districts so they can use them for electoral security.
By usurping the naturalization authority of Congress Democrats have created 22 Congressional seats, millions of voters, and won the 2008 and 2012 national elections. The Framers of the Constitution were primarily concerned with structuring government to balance the sovereignty of the states against an overreaching central government. It is highly unlikely that any of them dreamt a Congressional authority as innocuous as naturalization could be seized and wielded by a national political party to bypass the structural limits of power and enable control of government.