Constitution Post: Article I, Section 8 Part III


Today, we will look at Section 8 of Article I again, specifically, the Naturalization clause. It is very interesting to study, especially with the current discussion in America on immigration.  I hope to offer a balanced approach to this deep issue, finding a middle ground between the far left and the far right. 

The text of the Constitution reads: 

“Congress shall have power to…

“Establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization…” 

The word naturalization refers to the process of a foreigner becoming an American citizen.  America has always been a place where people from all over the world come to seek the glorious freedom we enjoy.  According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, “During the last decade, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) welcomed more than 6.6 million naturalized citizens into the fabric of our nation.  In fiscal year 2013, 777,416 individuals were naturalized, and in fiscal year 2014, 654,949 people were naturalized.”

That group of faithful Christians — the Pilgrims, the progenitors of our nation — were immigrants.  One-hundred and two English men, women, and children came to America to call this place their home.  The pilgrims came seeking the religious freedom that they were denied in England under the tyrannical rule of King George. 

Years later, in trying to identify and repair the problems America faced under the Articles of Confederation, our founding fathers realized that the authority to “establish a uniform Rule of Naturalization” should fall to Congress.  This is one of the “few and defined” powers of the federal government. 

Over the past several years, and especially during presidential elections, immigration and naturalization have become issues of much debate.  It is imperative that you and I understand the issue for ourselves for two reasons:

  1. Immigration effects our everyday lives, both for good and for bad.  Those who come illegally and engage in various crimes could endanger American families.  But, on the other hand, those who become citizens and assimilate into American society are a great asset. 
  2. You and I have the responsibility to affect policy and support legislation that protects our liberties.  Especially considering Congress’ failure in this crucial issue, we must step up and peacefully correct the situation. 

Let’s dig in. 

Throughout history, America has been very compassionate when it comes to immigration policy — one of the many things that makes America the most unique and wonderful nation in world history.  It has truly been the Land of Opportunity!  In his book, Well Versed, Dr. James Garlow writes: 

“There’s no other nation more compassionate, more generous, or more open-armed towards the less fortunate nations than the United States.  Our Christian heritage has conditioned us to respond to local and global catastrophes remarkably quickly and effectively.  We allow more immigrants from all over the world to enter our country than any other nation on earth.  Why?  Because all people have an intrinsic worth, being made in God’s image (Genesis 1:27), independent of race, color, or ethnic background.  Those that want to contribute to the American Experience are welcome to do so, if they support our values, respect our unique religious heritage, and play by the rules.  Therefore, understand that the United States should not feel any shame concerning its overall acceptance of immigrants.”

Blame on Both Sides

Like I said above, immigration and naturalization have been wonderful aspects of American liberty; but, a deep problem occurs when any country looses control of their borders.  As Ronald Reagan said, “But the simple truth is that we’ve lost control of our borders, and no nation can do that and survive.” 

The “left” –that is, most liberals — focus on “compassion” for those who come across the border illegally.  They act as though most anyone is welcome in the States, excusing or ignoring the issues of crime and terrorism.  The “right,” on the other hand, or many Republicans, lean towards punishment (such as back taxes), and even the deportment of illegal immigrants.

The problem is, though, that neither Republicans nor Democrats (with a couple exceptions) have offered a reasonable remedy to the issue.  Again quoting Dr. Garlow’s book:

“…When the sheriffs from the nation’s southwest border counties went to Washington, D.C., to appeal for help, they were denied assistance by both the Bush 43 administration and the Obama administration!  These county sheriffs were left on their own to deal with, not just kind Mexicans looking for jobs, but the ruthless and gruesome Mexican drug cartel.  Bottom line: both political parties benefit by saying they’ll fix the problem but never doing so.”

He continues:

“The culpability lies in Washington, D.C., in both Republican and Democratic administrations.  For their own reasons, each party has violated its obligation to uphold the law of the land…if the federal government demonstrates that it has no intention of following its own law, then the people who cross our borders can hardly be blamed.  This applies not only to those who crossed illegally but to those (almost 40 percent are undocumented) who overstayed their time in the United States.”

So, what is the solution? 

The Answer

As with everything in life, we need balance.  Immigrants AND government must do their part, each recognizing their fault. 

Congressmen have a responsibility to represent their constituency and do their part in protecting the nation.  As of now, they have, in many ways, failed to do their duty. Instead of always blaming the other side, I would ask that each recognize their error and make great effort to correct the situation.  Politicians, including Republicans, do not have the option of continuing to fail the American people, while blaming other politicians or illegal immigrants.  They must listen to the voice of the people and stop ignoring various sheriffs and others who have tried to stop the illegal immigration in their states.  They must reform immigration laws and create an efficient system of naturalization. 

In a similar way, immigrants cannot continue to ignore the laws of the land.  For those who seek to become citizens, they can’t come here illegally.  Instead, if they love what we love and seek the life we enjoy, they must do what it takes to follow the system they claim to love.  Our immigration policy is as much of who we are as the policy that protects the various freedoms we enjoy. 

Dr. Garlow says it very well:

“…in coming here, it must be understood all are to cherish what we stand for as a nation.  They must understand and respect our national foundation as being based on eternal Judeo-Christian values and morals.  They must commit to working hard to provide for themselves, their families and the continued prosperity, unity, and common good of this country.  Just as the exiles were told by Jeremiah to be a blessing to the land they were going to, so those who enter the United States are to have the same attitude (Jeremiah 29:7).”


I hope this has offered some new things to consider on the issue of naturalization and immigration.  Never forget the importance of each American’s participation in American government!  We may, at some time in the future, be able to offer creative new ideas for immigration policy, so keep studying! 


-Well Versed, Dr. James Garlow!/articles/1/essays/40/naturalization

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