[see the companion article on Federal power over Naturalization & Immigration]
Processing Time vs Waiting Time
I don’t think it should take more than 90 days to decide if a state is going to accept an immigrant-applicant. Why does it take years?
If an applicant to visit or immigrate has a clean background (which doesn’t take years to verify) and has a guarantee of support (aka Affidavit of Support) from a relative or perhaps a business, the applicant’s application should be granted immediately.
The Federal Government inserted itself in Immigration
Yes, the Feds have imposed limitations on how many people from each country can come in to work and live here and (if it were their responsibility) they should verify the identity of the applicant and confirm that someone will keep them from being a burden on the local economy where they’re going to live.
So, not all of the 7 years now required to approve an immigrant visa is from processing. Instead, the queues for some countries are actually that long. If only 4,000 immigrants from some obscure place are allowed each year to enter the US per Federal law and 100,000 are on a waiting list, we can pretty well know it will take around 20 years for a visa to be approved.
This delay is despite the fact that a family may be able and willing to support a brother, a mother, a sister, a father or a cousin with housing, money, and social support.
[see also the companion article on Federal power over Naturalization and Immigration]
The Local Community has an Impact
So, the state where the person is planning on immigrating to should also look at housing to see if sufficient housing is available in the local market, to see if employment is feasible in the local market, and to see what government services would suffer adverse impact by the immigrant’s arrival in his desired target community, such as education.
But other factors also play a role like availability of healthcare and commercial businesses to provide goods and services and infrastructure for communication and transportation. It is the government’s job to provide this information to prospective applicants, but it is not the government’s job to solve any problems, unless the government accepts the applying immigrant.
The State writes the laws, publishes the regulations and administers these for the benefit of its citizens. It is solely responsible for advising communities if an applicant has a driving record, a drinking record, an employment record and so on that might bear on his integration into the community.
On the other hand the local employer knows if he has positions open and what skill sets he needs, the schools know if they’re at capacity or could handle 2 more elementary or secondary students, and so on. So, the locals have the responsibility to advertise when local conditions are conducive to immigration or not. This information belongs in the hands of the applicant, too.
Federal Bureaucrats vs State & Local Bureaucrats
Of course, so many people believe that the Constitution grants Congress the power over Immigration – it doesn’t. The Constitution lists an enumerated power to make all State naturalization laws uniform.
This shows where Congress has that power but you won’t be able to find in the Constitution the word “Immigration” or “Immigrant” or any other variation of those or other terms for those who want to come to America to live, anywhere. That’s because Immigration has always been a State power.
Back in 1789 Washington didn’t have Border Patrol agents located all along the newly independent colonies to administer an Immigration code. States were expected to decide whom they would allow in, whether they were criminals, whether they would be a burden on the local society, and so on.
States Grant Citizenship under Uniform Federal Rules
So, while the Feds could force all States to have uniform rules for turning an immigrant into a citizen, they didn’t ever have the power to grant admission to the US.
Even the oft-cited 14th Amendment makes it clear US Citizenship is a consequence of State Citizenship.
” All persons born or naturalized in the [several] United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. “
Being a citizen of Arizona makes a person a citizen of the United States, no matter where they move to, for example. But note that being a resident does not make one a citizen. And “just visiting” isn’t being resident, either.
So, how long must a visitor be present to be considered “resident” and how long must he be resident to become a “citizen”? States decide the former and the Feds can write a law for the latter.
Road Trip through Alabama
For example, if someone drives through Alabama on their way to Florida, they’re just visiting Alabama (and maybe Florida, too). Visitors are accorded equal protection under the law, the local law, but they obviously can’t vote. Visitors may also have less access to things, like borrowing books from the library.
If these visitors want to work, can the state restrict their employment? Legally, yes, but usually states don’t interfere in right to work states, if someone shows up from out of town and wants to wield a broom, so be it. What if the visitor is not a US citizen but someone from another country? Are they afforded the equal opportunity of employment of citizens? A Federal Attorney General has claimed they do. But that’s absurd.
At some point a US citizen residing in Alabama will become resident, and in the process gain the right vote, perhaps gain borrowing rights at the library and so on, but normally he must claim that bundle of rights by turning into an Alabama citizen. He surrenders his other worldly license to drive, say, Montana, and gets a shiny new AL driver license.
He may also get a voter ID card or other government identity card, like concealed carry permit. There is a peripheral issue here that one state may grant a concealed carry permit, while the adjoining state won’t recognize it, despite Constitutional assurance that legal actions in one state will be honored by other states. Guns in particular are a sticky matter since they may fall under the purview of the 2nd Amendment, where the right to bear arms shall not be infringed.
Concealed Carry is a State Law
Some 45 states (maybe more now) provide for open carry of firearms by citizens, but concealed carry is usually more restricted. This may cause some problems carrying a weapon across state lines, especially if concealed.
Immigration vs Naturalization
This means States decide on Immigration issues and can later naturalize that resident according to uniform rules prescribed by Federal law.
Who, then, protects borders from unfettered immigration?
Can the Feds take a busload of border-crossers from El Paso, Texas, to San Diego, California, in the process crossing New Mexico and Arizona without getting permission from the 4 states involved to bring those “children” in?
This is a gross over-stepping of Federal power.
State Immigration Crossing Centers
States have the right and power to set up Immigration gateways anywhere they like inside their state to enforce state immigration laws, including inside the US Border Station to stop ICE buses carrying illegal immigrants and force them to alight and return to the border.
At International airports if a passenger arrives who is not welcome because his visa is invalid, expired or perhaps non-existent, the common carrier who brought the passenger to the terminal is financially responsible for returning the passenger to the point of origin. This is why gate agents may ask a passenger to show not only their passport but also the visa for entering the country where they’re headed.
For walkers deportation involves passing them from the state transit area back to the border crossing they walked across.
State Processing of Deported Individuals
Similar to current Federal processing border-crossers one flow will spin off rejected individuals into a transit area sequestered from free exit. It is possible while in transit for a border-crosser to communicate with the outside world and rehabilitate his situation, but more than likely those rejected will be deported.
Assured Identity through Biometric Data Storage
However, it is critical that each and every person crossing have biometric identification data gathered. Whether the crosser is admitted or deported, that data will be stored. If the crossing person is advised not to cross until some condition has been met and then attempts crossing again, the biometric data will provide proof of prior warning not to attempt crossing.
Biometric data can also be stored not only in the network for immigration enforcement but also on a secure card issued to visitors and immigrants. Whether such cards are issued upon first entry to the US or prior to departure by US State Department personnel on behalf of a state granting a visa to visit or immigrate, a high-security counterfeit-resistant technology should be used.
As most 8th graders know the 10th Amendment last of the Bill of Rights reserves all powers not specifically granted to Congress and the Federal government to the States individually and if they exercise no authority the power is retained by the people.
This catch-all retention of states’ power embedded in the 10th Amendment is crucial to understanding the limitations of our Federal government.
Of all people an Attorney-General should clearly grasp the meaning of the words written into our Constitution.