We ran into something very interesting this past week in our pursuit of the actual language of the Fourteenth Amendment; yet even more pressing was something we became privy to regarding Thomas Jefferson’s attitude on immigration. Jefferson felt that a people being accustomed to leadership that used cruel and arbitrary use of power, who remained unaccountable for their actions – or in the case of most immigrants during that period – unaccountable for their lack of leadership, tyranny, even repression of the people’s basic human rights, would therefore inevitably would bring that with them insofar as it is the only thing they knew.
Moreover, Jefferson believed that those people could not be responsible for their own will and self-assertion which dictates a free society. Thomas Jefferson actually feared that those who were being granted temporary residency lacked the vigilance to build upon “…this new government…” as no fault of their own, but rather because they were accustomed to oppression by their governments.
Jefferson’s reflections lead him to believe based on empirical evidence that many immigrants upon given free will, lacked the self-control to live in “temperate liberty.” Jefferson, at first, did not conclude that there was a need to restrict immigration. He believed very much that America needed those “useful artificers” with the right skills – actually those manual labor positions.
Most importantly however was in Jefferson’s ideology of, that he did think it imprudent to promote it: “If they come of themselves, they are entitled to all the rights of citizenship: but I doubt the expediency of inviting them by extraordinary encouragements.” (Jefferson, Notes on Virginia (1787), Query 8, Writings, 210-212.)
For those of us who are dismayed simply because this is the opposite of what our US Government has been doing in modern history – literally in the form of entitlements, provisions by special interest groups, and other Foundations breaking the law.
Thomas Jefferson changed his mind about immigration, at least temporarily, after his election to the presidency. This sounds just too familiar to us and as such we feel it must be shared with you. In the election of 1800 the votes of recent immigrants had been important – possibly so important that those votes alone may have determined the narrow victory by Jefferson.
At his First Annual Message to Congress, Jefferson actually proposed immediate naturalization of foreigners instead of the fourteen-year residency then required. He argued that this lengthy period discouraged desirable immigration; that it refused hospitality to “the unhappy fugitives from distress;” “…[furthermore] a mere declaration of a “bona fide purpose of embarking his life and fortunes permanently with us” should be sufficient for admission for citizenship.
What these actual words from Jefferson tells us is the notion that actual noncitizens voted in the 1800 presidential election; that these immigrants we “unhappy fugitives from distress;” and he literally tried to change residency requirements and with one ‘bona fide declaration’ be granted citizenship – or Amnesty.
This was written by Thomas Jefferson; it reads direly familiar, and thank God there was Mr. Alexander Hamilton around to argue against what Jefferson was trying to do.
Therefore, it is quite sufficient to think the next writing will be about Mr. Hamilton’s rebuttals.