“…a uniform rule of naturalization…”
Just the other day, our high school French teacher came to me and excitedly said, “Guess what! I am going to become a citizen on Friday!” Here is a soft-spoken, wonderful woman who treasures the thought of soon becoming a United States citizen. She has quite a story to tell. Born in Mozambique, she moved to Belgium at age 12, where she married and began her family. With her husband and children, she immigrated to the United States nine years ago. Her love for America is deep and rich. I have concluded that she values her upcoming citizenship perhaps more than most American-born citizens.
When one considers all the great blessings of America—its land, its climate, its topography—there is yet one resource which the Founders considered more important than all the rest—its people. Dr. Skousen explains:
A Nation’s Greatest Resource
“A major element of the American success story is the fact that the Founders considered a law-abiding, hard-working population of productive people its greatest resource. Only a few nations appreciate this point of view. Most of them suffer from a Malthusian complex with imaginary nightmares of an overpopulated planet smothered with people. Israel, on the other hand, with a territory one-eighth the size of a state such as Idaho, has three times the population and still wants to double her population because it would double her human resources.
“The Founding Fathers had a similar attitude. John Adams said he was looking forward to the day when the United States would have two hundred to three hundred million people working and prospering together.
“In the Declaration of Independence, there is a complaint that George III "has endeavored to prevent the populating of these States, for that purpose obstructing the laws for the naturalization of foreigners, and refusing to pass others to encourage their migrating hither." As with modern Israel, the Founders of the American colonies were anxious to attract large numbers of immigrants to this continent.” (The Making of America, pp. 411-412)
It is interesting to note that the Founders knew that the incredible freedom which their formula would produce would be the envy of the world. It would attract predator nations; hence the need for a strong and ready military to keep other nations at bay. Benjamin Franklin even expressed the belief that if America kept its military strong enough, we would not have to fight another war because it would soon “be thought proper to treat us not with justice only, but with kindness, and thence we may expect in a few years a total change of measures with regard to us.” (The Five Thousand Year Leap, p. 261)
The Founders felt the same way about what American freedom would do for individuals living in other countries. Many would feel the pull of American prosperity and have the desire to come to America where they could experience real freedom. As a result, the Founders gave to Congress the power to make rules for immigration and naturalization so that order could be kept and the environment of freedom, morality, and the protection of rights could be maintained.
James Madison, in the Federalist Papers No. 43, explained why this matter of naturalization could not and should not be left any more to the individual states which had such varied and divergent policies that it would cause more disunion than union. Said he:
"By the laws of several States, certain descriptions of aliens, who had rendered themselves obnoxious, were laid under interdicts inconsistent not only with the rights of citizenship but with the privilege of residence. What would have been the consequence if such persons, by residence or otherwise, had acquired the character of citizens under the laws of another State, and then asserted their rights as such, both to residence and citizenship, within the State proscribing them? Whatever the legal consequences might have been, other consequences would have resulted of too serious a nature not to be provided against."
Immigration and Naturalization
“The Supreme Court has sustained the position that the United States has the right, inherent in a sovereign nation, to determine the conditions under which persons shall be allowed to enter the country and the rules or provisions by which they may be naturalized. This broad power allows the government to impose quotas, qualifications, restrictions, and even outright prohibitions against certain classes of immigrants. In the beginning the immigration quotas favored the northern European population, and certain races or classes of people have been totally excluded at times.
“Even under the Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1952 there were thirty-one categories of aliens who were excluded from the United States. However, the act of June 27, 1962, provided that "the right of a person to become a naturalized citizen of the United States shall not be denied or abridged because of race or sex or because the person is married." (MOA, p. 412)
Requirements for Citizenship
Since the Constitution was written, over forty-five million immigrants have flowed to the United States from all over the world. Most of them have come hoping to attain full citizenship as "Americans." This takes at least five years. Here are the requirements:
- The applicant must be at least eighteen years old.
- The applicant must have proof that he or she entered the country lawfully.
- The applicant must have lived in the United States for five consecutive years (three years if the spouse of a citizen), and he or she must have lived for six months in the state in which the petition is filed.
- The applicant must be of good moral character, having two citizens to testify to the fact. According to U.S. law, an alien is not considered to be of good moral character if he or she is a drunkard, an adulterer, a bigamist or polygamist (having two or more wives at the same time), a professional gambler, a convicted murderer, or if he or she has lied to the Immigration and Naturalization Service or has been in jail more than 180 days during his or her five years in the United States.
- The applicant must demonstrate a knowledge of the history and form of government of the United States and must be "attached to the principles of the Constitution."
- The applicant must demonstrate an understanding of the English language and be able to speak, read, and write words in common usage. (This requirement is waived if the applicant has a handicap that does not permit him to do these things.)
The declaration of intention is filed with the Immigration and Naturalization Service. Sometimes an investigation is conducted. Eventually the applicant is called in to be examined. If the results are satisfactory, the applicant's file is sent to a court where the applicant can be sworn in as a citizen of the United States and receive a certificate of naturalization. The oath of allegiance which every naturalized citizen must take is as follows: "I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the armed forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God." Once a person has been naturalized he or she has every civil right to which a "natural-born" American citizen is entitled -- with one exception. Only a natural-born citizen can serve as President or Vice President of the United States.
The Current Problem of Illegal Aliens
With his background in law enforcement and national security, Dr. Skousen expressed alarm, over twenty years ago, about the inflow of foreigners who were not being held accountable according to our established laws of immigration and naturalization. He wrote:
“A major challenge facing the United States today is the problem of illegal aliens. There are several million of them [estimated now to be 10-12 million] living in the United States, hailing from many countries. Some of them have been here so long there is talk of granting them amnesty so they can begin preparing themselves for full citizenship. However, it is recognized that a massive wave of illegal aliens banded together with hostile or violent attitudes toward the United States could be a serious threat to the internal security of the country. Americans have always been sympathetic to those who have come from abject poverty and brutal dictatorships seeking a better life. However, in recent years, authorities have observed an increasing number of illegal aliens who are either professional criminals or steeped in revolutionary ideology with training in terrorism. It is the responsibility of the federal government to see that these conditions are corrected so that criminal and revolutionary aliens are not allowed to threaten the peace and well-being of the American people.” (MOA, p.414)
As can be readily seen from today’s news reports, this issue is extremely divisive and at the same time is getting extremely serious for the nation. Most of us, knowingly or unknowingly, have probably met people who have come into this country illegally. No doubt, many have come here seeking a better life, or a better job, or better opportunities for their children. No doubt some have come for deviant reasons, whether it be criminal or subversive. Being one who lives in a metropolitan area within 150 miles of the southern border, it is easy to tell this is quickly becoming a crisis issue with no peaceful resolution in sight. Some have related it to the Prophet Micah’s prediction in the Old Testament and repeated several times in other scripture:
“And the remnant of Jacob shall be among the Gentiles in the midst of many people as a lion among the beasts of the forest, as a young lion among the flocks of sheep who, if he go through, both treadeth down, and teareth in pieces, and none can deliver.” (Micah 5:8)
Once again, The Founders’ Constitution has Answers
Given this as well as other major problems facing our nation, the Founders would surely say we have not been very good stewards of their legacy. The violation of several principles of wise and good government has caused these crises to develop:
- We have not held to the Founders’ friendly-but-separate philosophy outlined in the Monroe Doctrine. As we have meddled in the affairs of other countries, we have made enemies, just as President Washington said would happen. Now our enemies are finding ways to infiltrate and destroy us.
- We have not been the example and blessing to the entire human race as we should have been. Our own internal immorality has given other nations excuses to treat us as enemies. It overshadows the charity we do give out to the world.
- We have created entangling alliances which have drawn us into wars and disputes not of our choosing or making.
- We have created welfare programs which present a false hope to the rest of the world and encourages foreigners to think there is a “free lunch” in America.
- We have gutted our intelligence gathering capability so that we are not able to know where security risks are lurking within our own country.
- We have tied the hands of our police agencies so that effective crime control is breaking down.
Oh, that we could look to the Founders’ Constitution and live again in the full light of freedom and invite the rest of the world to truly follow our example. Someday, that will happen. Sincerely, Earl Taylor, Jr.