Predicated upon the premise that “unenforced laws” are useless — we also believe there has been a coordinated effort on behalf of various advocacy / special interest groups to ensure that immigration, naturalization, and customs enforcement officials are literally unable to enforce laws that are already on the books; subsequently, equally at fault is the lack of our own Congressional officials to let conditions go unchanged year-after-year, decade after decade, and generation after generation.
From our Founding Fathers’ perspective, most, if not all, did not think freely immigrating to America was the most concise answer, either. In the late 18th century, the young republic needed a larger population and encouraged immigration.
At the same time, America’s founders were concerned with assimilating immigrants. Thus, George Washington, in a letter to John Adams, stated that immigrants should be integrated and assimilated into American life so that:
| “By an intermixture with our people, they, or their descendants, get assimilated to our customs, measures, laws: in a word soon become one people.”
In a 1790 speech to Congress on the naturalization of immigrants, James Madison stated that America should welcome the immigrant who could assimilate, but exclude the immigrant who could not readily “incorporate himself into our society.”
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.” The ultimate success of the American republic, he maintained, depends upon “the preservation of a national spirit and a national character,” among native born and immigrant alike.
Clearly, Washington’s call for “one people,” Madison’s insistence that the immigrant “incorporate himself into our society,” Jefferson’s concern that some newcomers might not be prepared for “temperate liberty,” and Hamilton’s emphasis on the “safety” of our republic and the “love of country,” are all more or less of one piece. They are a clarion call for “patriotic assimilation.” Given the founders’ forthright insistence on patriotic assimilation, it is not surprising that the Naturalization Law of 1795 required that before becoming American citizens, aliens would have to “renounce under oath” all previous sovereign allegiances. (Further reading)
One reason why simply legalizing all the illegal aliens wouldn’t solve much of anything is in the failure of Congress and agencies of foreign countries to take steps to reasonably enforce laws. But regardless of any possible differences of opinion, until we have consistent enforcement of the immigration law, we’re all under the same tent and it doesn’t much matter what the specifics of policy are if the rules are systematically and intentionally unenforced. (Further reading, here.)
In other words, until our President, Congress, Judiciary, and others need to get on the same page as our Founders, or it is quite safe to say that immigration reform is not something that is likely going to change anything.
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