Too Hot for the UAE

Tyler notes that I'm banned in Dubai. I would like to say it's because of my dangerous liberatory political ideas. More likely, though, it's because of the pornographic trackback spam that has infested my archives. No, I like the first idea. UAE: You can't handle the truth!

  • Not So Fast

    The goverment literally distributes visas, so if this isn’t an issue of distributive justice, then it’s hard to know what is.

    It’s not an issue of any kind of justice. The government’s responsibility is to it’s own citizens, and 1.) it doesn’t owe foreign nationals a Goddamn thing, and 2.) there is not now, and never has been, any right to enter a sovereign nation you are not a citizen of.

    A nation and it’s government have every right to define any damn criteria for admission they please, and if they chose to make it a random, capricious and arbitrary criteria that is entirely their prerogative. A right to entry isn’t owed to any foreign national. You might just as well discuss the distributive justice of buying a winning lottery ticket – it might be nice to get one, and having one may well improve the lucky recipient’s quality of life. But whether or not you get one certainly has nothing to do with justice, and it certainly isn’t an entitlement.

  • But governments decide who will be citizens! If the government’s responsibility is to its own citizens, and who is and is not a citizen is the prerogative of government, then governments decide who it will be responsible to. But you think this decision is not itself subject to evaluation? So I guess you’re saying that if a government decides that foreigners do have a legal right to enter its territory, or have a legal right to be considered for citizenship, then you would have no basis for any objection. It’s the government’s prerogative to define whatever criteria it pleases! Can’t question that.

    1) Moral (as opposed to legal) rights exist prior to government and governments, like other agents, owe all people recognition and respect for their rights. That is “a Goddamn thing.”
    2) False. Your territorial idea of sovereignty is a few hundred years old. There is now and always has been a right to mobility.

    You can’t rig definitions to avoid the question of the justice of systematic coercive exclusion.

  • Not So Fast

    But governments decide who will be citizens! If the government’s responsibility is to its own citizens, and who is and is not a citizen is the prerogative of government, then governments decide who it will be responsible to.

    As I’m sure you’re aware, government, at least in the United States, cannot revoke citizenship under any circumstance, so, no – government may not arbitrarily decide who it will be responsible to. What qualifies one for citizenship is well-defined in the laws of every nation of which I’m aware. In the United States, qualification is being born within the territory of the United States. Naturalization is by definition the process of granting citizenship to those who have no claim on it by birthright. Further, the government isn’t an entity that magically appeared and started issuing orders, it’s a representative of the people who constituted it. And, yes, those people *do* have the prerogative to authorize the government to establish whatever criteria they please.

    1) Moral (as opposed to legal) rights exist prior to government and governments, like other agents, owe all people recognition and respect for their rights. That is “a Goddamn thing.”

    That may be true – but you have yet to establish marching into any nation you damn well please without any prior claim of citizenship is one those rights. And, AFAIK, there isn’t a government on earth that recognizes any such right.

    2) False. Your territorial idea of sovereignty is a few hundred years old. There is now and always has been a right to mobility.

    Show me a law from any nation on earth that requires it to admit anyone without a prior claim of citizenship, other than limited arrangements such as the EU (which, even there, reserves that right to citizens of member nations. It certainly does not recognize a right of anyone from anywhere to come wandering in). A right to mobility may well include a right to *exit* a nation – but that does not mandate that any other nation provide a right to *entrance*.

    If you wish to leave my house, clearly I have no right to restrain you. However, your right to leave at your choosing does not imply a right to enter either my house or anyone else’s, other than your own, at your discretion.

  • Nico D

    Not So Fast,
    I see your argument as relying on the falacy repeatedly made by opponents of immigration, namely, that a country is analogous to collectively owned property. You make this analogy very explicitly.

    The problem with this view is that it runs into serious contridictions. For one thing, it implies that the democratic process can override basic rights, especially that of free association. What inherent right do others have to tell me who I may sell or lease my property to, or who I may employ. I think your on firmer ground on the issue of voting rights (though why exactly wouldn’t we then have the right to take away citizenship?), but that’s pretty easily solved by allowing immigration without citizenship.

    Do you believe that the territory of the U.S. is literally the collective property of American citizens? I suspect not, at this would seem to override all kind of individual rights. Indeed, it would make the idea of private property meaningless if you take it to its logical conclusion.

    I think it would be valuable to have more debate and exploration of what it means to be a citizen of a country. I agree with Will that the only role of a nation state that’s deeply consistent with liberalism is as a public good provider (and then only assuming that anarchy is for whatever reason unfeasible or undesirable). This obviously runs starkly against common views of the nation state, but iI think t’s a view that deserves serious consideration if you have any liberal instincts at all. Not So Fast seems to think the state as collective property metaphor obviously works. I think he/she ought to least consider that such a principle undermines values we all share.

  • Not So Fast

    Do you believe that the territory of the U.S. is literally the collective property of American citizens? I suspect not, at this would seem to override all kind of individual rights. Indeed, it would make the idea of private property meaningless if you take it to its logical conclusion.

    *sigh*

    Apparently you have a pretty simplistic understanding of property rights. Take a look at the deed to “your” property. Do you own the mineral rights? Probably not. Water rights? Sometimes, sometimes not. Air rights? Never. The rights to political sovereignty? What do you think your chances are that you’ll get away with declaring murder, torture or child molesting legal on your property?

    The point I am making here is that, yes, the citizens of America do collectively reserve certain rights to the territory. Individuals may own other specific rights to particular pieces of property. More simply, there are individual rights pertaining to the territory as well as collective ones, and they aren’t mutually exclusive.

    Further, the canard about the interfering with the right of free association is ridiculous. The right of free association always presumes the associating parties aren’t breaking other laws in the process. You have a right to associate with Charlie Manson if you want to visit him at the Corcoran State Prison. You don’t have a right to demand the state of California releases him from prison to facilitate associating with him on your preferred terms. The point here being that every law that might interfere with associating with someone is not invalid or a violation of your right. There is no law that prevents you with associating with any foreign national – you can always associate with him in his country. But the law is under no obligation to facilitate your association with him *here*.

    • Nico D

      I don’t see the point in using terms like “simplistic” and “ridiculous”. If my arguments really were so, there’d be no need to point that out, you could just make a straighforward argument against them that most people would accept. Rather it seems like an attempt to avoid having to address certain issues by dismissing them off hand (I don’t think you intend to do this, and I’m grateful that you offer some counterarguments). But on to the substance here:

      It’s clear that we give the government certain powers to violate rights under certain circumstances. However, I think you sort of dodge the fundmental issue when this is legitimate. The reason to accept the exceptions you mention, which I mostly do, is that such restrictions are, over all, liberty enhancing. That’s the pretty basic point of Mill’s “On Liberty”, and liberalism overall, isn’t it?

      However, the flip side is that any restrictions on individual liberty, executed through the democratice process or not, can ONLY be justified if they enhance liberty. Another way to say this is that we’re only allowed to restrict individual liberty to protect the liberty of others, thus the prohibition against murder. I understand people disagree about what constitutes infrindgments of liberty, etc, but then that’s what ought to debate in regards to immigration.

      It seems clear to me that, unless the protection of rights is at stake, then infringements upon freedom of association and mobility are not justified, even if they are supported by a majority of people in a nation state, just as slavery is not justified no matter how many people favor it. I’d also be happy to debate whether more open immigration infringes on some fundamental rights.

      In my view, one might say we “collectively reserve certain rights to the territory”, but this is only permissable if it enhances individual rights. This seems to me to be basic liberalism, of the sort that anyone who supports the principle of the constitution should support. Do you disagree?

      Perhaps our disagreement is just about what makes laws legitimate. So I want to ask some more clarifying questions:

      Do you believe that any law passed through the democratic process is legitimate? I’d imagine you’d answer “no”, so in what cases is it and isn’t it?

      What individual rights are protected through immigration restrictions? ( Though I suppose if you answer ‘yes’ to the above question, this isn’t an issue)?

      ( I guess this would be the fundamental question) What do you think makes restrictions on immigration legitimate? The democratic process, maintaining a culture that supports liberal democracy, the protection of certain rights, or something else?

      These are somewhat scattered thoughts. I hope they can further a constructive discussion. (Also, it occurs to me that will has made all the same points I have much more eloquently, so I should probably just defer to him here)

      • Not So Fast

        It’s clear that we give the government certain powers to violate rights under certain circumstances. However, I think you sort of dodge the fundmental issue when this is legitimate.

        I’m not dodging any issue, because the rights you are claiming are neither granted or recognized. I told you – read any standard title to property. “Owning property” is a layman’s shorthand for a somewhat more complex situation. Most deeds will states quite clearly what rights you have purchased. It will state whether or not you are also the owner of mineral rights, water rights, etc. And if not, it will also state that you are required to make reasonable accommodations to the owners of those rights allowing them to exercise them. More accurately, you haven’t purchased the property, you have purchased specific *rights* to the property. And that doesn’t preclude other parties holding other specific rights to it.

        In my view, one might say we “collectively reserve certain rights to the territory”, but this is only permissable if it enhances individual rights. This seems to me to be basic liberalism, of the sort that anyone who supports the principle of the constitution should support. Do you disagree?

        This is good example of why I’ve come to hate libertarians – they present an idealized vision of liberty that has never existed, never will exist, and couldn’t possibly exist, and then use the fact that reality falls short of that idealized vision to attack the institutions and conventions that protect what liberties we do have. It’s straight out of Saul Alinsky – ““Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules.”

        You were almost honest enough to acknowledge the problem with your example of the prohibition of murder – almost, but not quite. The fact is, that if some liberties are recognized, they’ll preclude or inhibit the exercise of other liberties. So, like it or not, not all liberties are equal, and you’re going to have to assign a relative value as to which ones have priority. And among those criteria is considering which parties obligations are owed to. Which obligations take priority? The ones to my family, or to your family? The well-being and comfort of your fellow citizens, or of foreign nationals? To your descents, or their descendents?

        Do you believe that any law passed through the democratic process is legitimate? I’d imagine you’d answer “no”, so in what cases is it and isn’t it?

        Let’s put it this way – democracy may be an imperfect arbiter of justice – but if the alternative is government by armchair intellectuals in the blogosphere, I’ll take democracy, warts and all.

        You seem to be entirely ignoring one of the other primary responsibilities of government – keeping the peace.

        You can call for unlimited immigration over the heads of the citizenry if you like, just be aware you’re going to be overruled, and when you’ve sufficiently antagonized the native population, who want no such thing in any country, things are likely to turn ugly. Which won’t be conducive to anyone’s freedom. You can already see the precursors to that confrontation arising in Europe. When legitimate parties refuse to address the concerns of their citizens, you can bet illegitimate ones will fill the vacuum.

        What individual rights are protected through immigration restrictions? ( Though I suppose if you answer ‘yes’ to the above question, this isn’t an issue)?

        The relationship between immigration control and protection of rights is quite simple – preservation of the social, political, cultural and economic environment that makes protection of those rights possible!

        Consider – there are 300 million people in America. There are 1.3 billion people in China. Now, contrary to popular belief, most Chinese people happen to like China, and they like their government. A recent poll found that 64% of Chinese approved of their government. Which is a helluva a lot better than our government is doing with it’s citizens. Well, good on the Chinese! But consider that even a small percentage of the Chinese population immigrating here would overwhelm our electorate, what kind of government do you think they’d vote for? If we couldn’t politically segregate ourselves from the rest of the world, what kind of government do you think we’d wind up with? Not knocking the Chinese or their government (I actually think they’re a very admirable country), but clearly the Chinese value different things in government than we do. Whose vision of government do you prefer to live under?

        Do you follow current events in Europe? Do you want Sharia law legitimized here as it has been in Britain? Do you want rioting here like in France? Can you explain why, if an election were held today, Geert Wilders would be the prime minister of the liberal Netherlands? How do you account for the popularity of parties like Vlaams Belang in the Belgium, or the SVP in Switzerland, and the growing popularity in the BNP in Britain? Berlusconi in Italy?

        You might want to keep in mind that when you’ve antagonized enough people, philosophy will go out of the window, and people will more likely be expressing their displeasure with bullets than blogs. The only thing they’ll likely be using “On Liberty” for is kindling when they’re burning you at the stake.

        • Matthew Tievsky

          From the premise that the distribution of visas is an issue of justice, it does not follow that we must allow totally unrestricted immigration and naturalization. (E.g., I think all of us here would endorse restrictions upon immigrants’ voting rights. I think what Will’s primarily arguing against is using immigration law as a means of labor protectionism.) So whereas I agree you’ve made some points that support some restrictions upon immigration, you haven’t defeated Will’s major premise, which is merely that immigration restrictions MUST BE JUSTIFIED by legitimate concerns (including some you’ve alluded to).

          • Not So Fast

            From the premise that the distribution of visas is an issue of justice,

            You can stop right there, because there’s no such thing as a recognized right to immigrate anywhere on earth, our aspiring Atticus Finch having pulled one from his suppository repository notwithstanding. Until you can demonstrate one of those, “cuz we said so!” is all the justification needed. The privilege of immigration is granted entirely at the discretion of the host nation. End of story.

  • !

    As I’m sure you’re aware, government, at least in the United States, cannot revoke citizenship under any circumstance, so, no – government may not arbitrarily decide who it will be responsible to.

    It’s not especially relevant, but I believe this factual statement is actually false. My understanding is that, even in the United States, the government can revoke the citizenship of naturalized citizens if, during the naturalization process, the citizen lied to the government about a material fact. It’s true that the Supreme Court held that the Eighth Amendment prevents the government from stripping a military deserter of his citizenship as punishment for the crime of desertion. Inflicting statelessness undoubtedly is cruel and unusual. But that’s a much narrower protection than you suggest. It applies only to punishment for crimes (and the courts construe that rule narrowly), not to administrative processes. And while I think it’s pretty much beyond doubt that the government can’t strip a natural-born US citizen of her citizenship, the Eighth Amendment rule doesn’t prevent the government from stripping naturalized citizens of citizenship under certain circumstances.

    What qualifies one for citizenship is well-defined in the laws of every nation of which I’m aware. In the United States, qualification is being born within the territory of the United States.

    Doubleplus untrue! Citizenship is not always clear! Nor is right of entry. There are lawyers who have entire careers just litigating immigration cases, and I’m not talking about public interest lawyers. Actual lawyers who are paid actual money.

    And Section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment provides that all persons born in the United States, and subject to their jurisdiction, shall be citizens of the United States. But that clause does not restrict citizenship to live births in the United States, excepting persons born there but not subject to the government’s “jurisdiction” (screw those ambassadors’ kids!). However, literally millions of US citizens were made citizens by the provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act, which Congress may enact under Article I, section 8 of the Constitution. The Fourteenth Amendment establishes a floor, but not a ceiling. There would be no legal barrier to Congress’s enacting a law making US citizenship available to every citizen of Canada. (Congress could also offer the provinces admission to the Union — I don’t think the resolutions admitting the new states would have to comply with the presentment-or-veto rules.) In fact, Congress’s creating new citizens for political reasons is basically the story of antebellum politics after the Madison administration. That the Democratic party wanted to admit Texas to the union, and that the citizens of Texas would largely vote Democratic was no coincidence.

    The present issue is somewhat different. Politically-motivated excisions from the body of citizens is more difficult to do in the US, only because most US citizens are actually born inside the country. But the text of the Fourteenth Amendment isn’t nearly as clear as most people seem to think. I can imagine a future in which populist politicians, hopped up on power and demagogy, enact a federal statute stating that people who sneak into the US illegally, and their children, have no claim on any US government benefit or on any protection from the US government, and therefore aren’t “subject to [the United States’s] jurisdiction.” In fact, I understand that to be the basis of Tom Tancredo’s loathesome bill denying citizenship to “anchor babies” (God, what a disgusting term).

    The point being that the government can, and does, determine who are its citizens. And in systems with no analogue to the Fourteenth Amendment, I expect the question is entirely settled by statute. Statutes can, of course, be amended.

    Show me a law from any nation on earth that requires it to admit anyone without a prior claim of citizenship, other than limited arrangements such as the EU (which, even there, reserves that right to citizens of member nations. It certainly does not recognize a right of anyone from anywhere to come wandering in). A right to mobility may well include a right to *exit* a nation – but that does not mandate that any other nation provide a right to *entrance*.

    Curious fact: Nowhere in Article I, section 8 does the Constitution explicitly give Congress the power to exclude aliens. (Exclusion here meaning what it does in the law: the power to turn someone away at the border. Once you make it inside the US, you have a startling number of rights — mostly procedural, and frequently honored in the breach, but right there, in the law books.) The text gives Congress the power to create rules for naturalization, but deciding who’s a federal citizen is different than deciding who can be admitted to the country. The so-called foreign commerce clause gives Congress the power to regulate commerce with foreign nations, and the movement of people is literally a type of “commerce.” But that’s the only textual hook for the power that I can think of. And the only express limitation on the power to exclude is the slave trade clause (Article 1, section 9, clause 1), which states: “The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a Tax or duty may be imposed on such Importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each Person.” This clearly has to do with slavery (it actually says “importation”!). Nowhere is a general exclusion power stated, unless you want to read the commerce clause to grant it.

    Until an astonishingly late date, the US had no immigration law whatever. People just showed up, stepped off the boat, and went their merry ways. And until an equally astonishingly late date, citizenship, and particularly federal citizenship, was not an especially important legal status. I understand quite a few states allowed non-citizens to vote, &c. The power to exclude started showing up with the passage of transparently bigoted immigration statutes in the late 19th century. The Supreme Court has held in a long line of cases (now imbued with the unimpeachable authority of age) that the federal government, acting through Congress, obviously has the inherent power to exclude anyone it please for any reason (including that you are a Communist) as long as it does so at the border. That power, the argument goes, is an obvious, inherent power of governments, and since the US government is a government, it must have that power.

    • Great comment, !. Thanks!

    • Ben1138

      The doctrine was created in the Chinese Exclusion Case (Chae Chan Ping v. United States), 1889:

      Justice Fields:

      “As said by this court in the case of The Exchange, 7 Cranch, 116, 136, speaking by Chief Justice MARSHALL: ‘The jurisdiction of the nation within its own territory is necessarily exclusive and absolute. It is susceptible of no limitation not imposed by itself. Any restriction upon it, deriving validity from an external source, would imply a diminution of its sovereignty to the extent of the restriction, and an investment of that sovereignty to the same extent in that power which could impose such restriction. All exceptions, therefore, to the full and complete power of a nation within its own territories, must be traced up to the consent of the nation itself. They can flow from no other legitimate source.”

      And later:

      “The power of exclusion of foreigners being an incident of sovereignty belonging to the government of the United States, as a part of those sovereign powers delegated by the Constitution, the right to its exercise at any time when, in the judgment of the government, the interests of the country require it, cannot be granted away or restrained on behalf of any one. The powers of government are delegated in trust to the United States, and are incapable of transfer to any other parties. They cannot be abandoned or surrendered. Nor can their exercise be hampered, when needed for the public good, by any considerations of private interest. The exercise of these public trusts is not the subject of barter or contract. Whatever license, therefore, Chinese laborers may have obtained, previous to the act of October 1, 1888, to return to the United States after their departure, is held at the will of the government, revocable at any time, at its pleasure. Whether a proper consideration by our government of its previous laws, or a proper respect for the nation whose subjects are affected by its action, ought to have qualified its inhibition and made it applicable only to persons departing from the country after the passage of the act, are not questions for judicial determination. If there be any just ground of complaint on the part of China, it must be made to the political department of our government, which is alone competent to act upon the subject.”

      • !

        The Chinese Exclusion Cases were precisely the cases I was thinking of. There are some other cases like this from the same era. My earlier comment had, however, grown overlong and over-pedantic.

        I consider the late 1880s an astonishingly late date for this sort of thing. I understand that entry quotas showed up somewhat earlier, but not by that much. I hope for enlightenment from someone whose nerdery exceeds even my own.

    • Not So Fast

      Doubleplus untrue! Citizenship is not always clear! Nor is right of entry. There are lawyers who have entire careers just litigating immigration cases, and I’m not talking about public interest lawyers. Actual lawyers who are paid actual money.

      No, immigration lawyers litigate the cases of foreigners whose right to be in the country is unclear or contested. I suspect the number of cases where citizenship is contested are few or non-existent.

      Citizenship is unambiguous. If you’re born here, you’re a citizen. If you’ve completed the naturalization process, you’re a citizen. If you can establish proof of either (not difficult), then there’s nothing to contest.

      I can imagine a future in which populist politicians, hopped up on power and demagogy, enact a federal statute stating that people who sneak into the US illegally, and their children, have no claim on any US government benefit or on any protection from the US government, and therefore aren’t “subject to [the United States’s] jurisdiction.” In fact, I understand that to be the basis of Tom Tancredo’s loathesome bill denying citizenship to “anchor babies” (God, what a disgusting term).

      So what? Most EU countries require at least one parent is a citizen as condition to recognition of citizenship. That doesn’t seem to be any kind of unreasonable to me.

      And the only express limitation on the power to exclude is the slave trade clause (Article 1, section 9, clause 1), which states: “The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a Tax or duty may be imposed on such Importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each Person.” This clearly has to do with slavery (it actually says “importation”!).

      Um, and it also actually says “migration”. But let’s assume your reading of the phrase is correct: since the Constitution doesn’t explicitly grant the Federal government power to regulate the slave trade either, why would a clause limiting it’s power to do so be necessary, if that power wasn’t assumed? Your argument proves too much.

      Further, even if we’re to assume the Federal government has no authority to regulate immigration, then, per the 10th Amendment, that power devolves to the states. Who do you think is going to be more efficient about applying boots to butts? ICE or the Texas National Guard? Be careful what you wish for….

      Until an astonishingly late date, the US had no immigration law whatever.

      And in 1928 we had no drunk driving laws, either. The next time you get popped for a DUI, try telling the judge it was legal when your grandfather did it. What is the relevance of this again?

      • !

        I have a general policy of not arguing with people on the internet, but I’m up late and feeling unwise.

        (1) My sense is that most immigration cases are either (a) claims of people asserting some right to stay in the US under one or another kind of visa, etc. (rights that are often contested by the government even when perfectly clear) or (b) various claims under the INA’s asylum provisions and/or the CAT. I mean category (a) to include litigation conducted on behalf of businesses for foreign-citizen employees, visa claims from spouses of US citizens, and the like. I meant to lump all this under vague and imprecise term “right of entry” — shame on me. (He who lives by precise expression, it seems, dies by imprecise expression.) Immigration status and citizenship issues do get litigated in some criminal cases where the immigration or nationality issue is an element of the offense. But my sense is that cases in which the only fighting issue is whether the applicant is already a citizen are rare, in both the immigration bureaucracy and in the federal courts, but I haven’t seen data on that question.

        That said, the citizenship rules really are more complicated (and capacious) than people seem to think. It is, for example, just false to imply, as you do, that the only basis for US citizenship other than naturalization is being “born here.” The children of US citizens are, under the INA, almost always citizens at birth, no matter where they’re born. (Though the rules can get really weird: how long the parent(s) lived continuously in the US, a citizen parent’s gender, or year of the child’s birth can end up making a difference.) In the big scheme of things, of course unusual citizenship are a sideshow, though an interesting one (and my guess is that the number of people in Canada and Mexico with interesting, litigible citizenship claims, while not very large, probably isn’t trivial — data, alas, is wanting). (NB — I offered up the Tancredo-style reading of the Fourteenth Amendment only as an example of how these things aren’t nearly as clear as people think. Regardless of their constitutionality, German-style citizenship rules seem to me to be really awful policy.)

        (2) I don’t know what you’re trying to imply about Article 1, section 9, clause 1, but that clause really was meant to prevent the federal government from using the commerce clause to interfere with the slave trade in southern states. That’s just true. The framers avoided referring to the slave trade by name, but the clause’s purpose was abundantly clear. One could use the slave trade clause to argue that the ratifying population understood Congress to have had the power to exclude anyone it wanted — why else make an exception? I almost never hear anyone making that argument, though — probably because people think the Civil War Amendments repealed the slave trade clause, and it’s therefore inappropriate to use clause in textual arguments. I don’t know exactly what I was trying to say about the clause in the earlier comment, other than that it’s the only provision of the Constitution that speaks directly to whether there’s a plenary federal power to exclude. I suppose my view is that, even if it’s permissible to enlist the clause in an argument for a purely plenary (and the word “plenary” does a lot of work here) exclusion power, it won’t do the job. The precise text (“Migration or Importation”) and its history indicate that the clause had a very specific effect. And that the framers thought Congress’s power over international trade sufficiently broad that, to shelter slavery from Congress’s power, it was necessary expressly to carve out an exception prohibiting Congress from interfering with the states’ rights to decide whether to allow slave traders to drop anchor in their ports doesn’t speak to whether Congress has the power to regulate immigration for just any reason. The latter is the much broader claim the government, and then the Supreme Court, made in the 1880s, and the claim you make above.

        (3) In this regard, it’s interesting that you say Texas might go after Mexicans with even greater enthusiasm than ICE. (For what it’s worth, I think there’s a good chance this is actually false.) It actually seems plausible to me that the best explanation for the Constitution’s deafening silence on the federal government’s supposedly obvious and inherent power to exclude anyone from the US for any reason was that, in the 1780s, and for some time thereafter, the states actually exercised much more power in this area. Before the Civil War, federal citizenship was much less important in everyday life than various other identities. States were more important, and many states — especially the states with large, urban centers — were not much interested in turning people away.

        (4) I’d have thought the relevance of immigration law’s relatively recent vintage was clear. The supposedly obvious right of exclusion of just anyone for just any reason is not a natural or obvious consequence of sovereignty. The claim you made — that it is — really isn’t true. (It could be true in a the trivial sense that the state’s agents could, hypothetically, kill anyone who enters, but that sense entails a kind of radical positivism that would render talk of almost every existing state’s immigration laws nonsense.) For much of American history (and for some surprising parts of European history), plenary exclusion was not the law, and, further, people just didn’t think that way. Regardless, the idea is that these things are historical, political, and contingent. You can’t argue that it’s okay to to adopt an exclusionary immigration policy by opaque citation of the inherent attributes of sovereignty or with obviously flawed metaphors about your house. There’s a lot of legwork that needs doing.

        • !

          Mind all, I’m not advocating that we turn immigration over to the states [*shudders*] — just that the basis for the federal government’s power isn’t nearly as clear as people seem to think.

  • Matthew Tievsky

    Not So Fast: “It’s not an issue of any kind of justice. The government’s responsibility is to it’s own citizens, and 1.) it doesn’t owe foreign nationals a Goddamn thing, and 2.) there is not now, and never has been, any right to enter a sovereign nation you are not a citizen of.”

    Apparently, then, you believe there’s nothing immoral about, e.g., allowing only white people to immigrate.

    • Not So Fast

      Apparently, then, you believe there’s nothing immoral about, e.g., allowing only white people to immigrate.

      Considering that every other society, from your local bridge club to the United Nations, reserves the right to establish criteria for admitting members and allowing use of their facilities, why would I? But what would be the point?

      • Matthew Tievsky

        Your “answer” comes off as evasive because you toss back rhetorical questions and refer to a general “right to estabilsh criteria,” which I’m not challenging. I’m asking very specifically:

        Is there anything unjust about an American immigration policy of admitting only white people (not too different from what we’ve had in the past)?

        I really can’t tell your answer from your previous comment. Yes or no?

        • Not So Fast

          No. I don’t know how many ways you’d like me to say it. The only immoral immigration policy is one that is damaging to the interests of those people whose interests the government is charged with protecting – namely, the citizens of that country. Other than that, all bets are off. Repeat after me: THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS A RIGHT TO IMMIGRATE. PERIOD.

  • crasch

    However, your right to leave at your choosing does not imply a right to enter either my house or anyone else’s

    You’re very protective of your right to determine who enters your house. Yet if I don’t have to right to dictate who enters your house, why do you think you have the right to dictate who enters mine?

    • Not So Fast

      I have no objection to you having anyone in your house that you’d like. I’d just interested in knowing how you plan to grant them access to your property without first granting them access to property that isn’t yours. Are you planning to have them dropped in by airlift?

      • crasch

        Who said anything about granting them access to property that’s not mine? Suppose I wanted to invite my friend Jose from Mexico City to come visit. Here’s how it would work, in the absence of immigration restrictions:

        1) Jose buys a plane ticket on (privately owned ) United Airlines to SFO.
        2) I pick Jose up at the airport in my (private) car and take him to my (private) home.

        See how that’s done? Peaceful, voluntary trades. At no point, does Jose ever “access property” that isn’t voluntarily granted to him.

        Of course, we have immigration laws. And as a result, immigration officers can show up with guns and threaten to kill me, Jose, and everyone else in that chain if we try to make those trades without jumping through their hoops.

        So it’s not me that’s accessing property that isn’t mine. It’s you, under the color of law, trying to dictate to me who I can and cannot let into my own house.

  • Jen

    Yes, well not getting into Harvard probably had a negative impact on my career. I mean Harvard literally distributes acceptances, and not getting one probably has a negative impact on the lives of those not admitted.

    Whatever.

    • Well, sure. But your point is…? The USA is neither a private nor special-purpose institution like Harvard. The USA’s policies of admission and exclusion require a fundamentally different sort of justification than do Harvard’s.

  • Jen

    The point is that there is no right to attend Harvard, just like there is no right to be permitted to live and work in any foreign country of my choosing. Any time I apply to do something I want to do and am denied, it may have a negative impact on me. This is true no matter the nature of the entity denying my request. If I don’t get what I want, I may be sad. I’m not sure why that is study-worthy.