<< Home


ICYMI: A Debate over Executive Power: Obama’s Immigration Decision

Did President Obama’s executive order on immigration exceed his constitutional authority? On Monday, January 12, AEI scholar Gary Schmitt took up the question with Ross Douthat and William Galston. The White House has claimed prosecutorial discretion as the basis for its decision, while critics, especially members of Congress, argue that the president is ignoring his core executive function of enforcing existing laws. Obama’s exercise of discretion raises the question of whether this is a reasonable interpretation of his constitutional obligation to faithfully execute laws or a violation of that duty.


Immigration and Representation

In the Weekly Standard, Program director Gary Schmitt and Rebecca Burgess write that in the debate over President Obama’s grant of amnesty to four or five million illegal immigrants, and concerns about the separation of powers, a vital principle of representative government has gone unremarked upon: Knitted to the issue is the question of the […]


A Moving Immigration Naturalization Ceremony

Each year, thousands of immigrants are sworn in as American citizens in ceremonies across the country. In one ceremony in Alaska, a middle school’s beloved US history teacher, a native of Venezuela, received her naturalization, writes Michelle Theriault Boots of the Anchorage Daily News.


Tolerance and American Exceptionalism

In a new essay published by the Claremont Review of Books, Richard Samuelson makes the case for “American exceptionalism,” arguing that America’s national identity is rooted in the Constitution rather than a unified culture. Owing to the Constitution’s embrace of universal rights, America is more tolerant of minority groups than most other nations, Samuelson argues.


The path not taken

According to a recent study by the Pew Research Hispanic Center, only about one-third of the 5.4 million legal immigrants from Mexico who are eligible to become citizens of the United States have pursued the path to citizenship. This rate of naturalization is only half that of legal immigrants from all other countries combined.


Immigration and the 2012 election

Immigration reform is quickly becoming an in-the-news issue, as we noted earlier this week with Peter Skerry’s suggestions for what reform might look like. The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) has just joined the conversation, releasing a new fact sheet that uses post-election youth polling to examine young people’s views of immigration. The survey found that only a relatively small portion—7.8%—of young Americans ages 18-24 rated immigration as their top issue in the 2012 election. Perhaps unsurprisingly, those that did, however, overwhelmingly favored liberalizing immigration laws.


Bumps along the path to citizenship

In this week’s edition of the Weekly Standard, Boston College professor and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution Peter Skerry (who joined us last January at AEI to discuss “The Muslim-American Muddle”) takes a look at current proposals for immigration reform and a “path to citizenship” for illegal immigrants. His advice? “Republicans must keep their immigration proposals tough, fair, and simple.”


The hard path to citizenship

Writing in Time Magazine, Nate Rawlings reacts to President Obama’s recent order to Homeland Security to stop deporting young undocumented immigrants. Rawlings, a retired U.S. Army officer, notes that the recent executive order allows immigrants under 30 to stay and work in America, but it doesn’t give them a Green Card, which is necessary for immigrants to join the military or become citizens. He writes: “I would make one big exception to that rule for any of those immigrants who join the military. Anyone who’s willing to take the oath of enlistment deserves a shot at citizenship.”


America’s problem of assimilation

Writing in the Hoover Institution’s Defining Ideas, Bruce Thornton looks at the American “melting pot” and “salad bowl” metaphors of immigrant assimilation–the former referring to a “fusing process” that, according to Ralph Waldo Emerson, “transforms the English, the German, the Irish emigrant into an American,” and the latter referring to a mix of different ethnic groups that, instead of assimilating, would “coexist in their separate identities like the ingredients in a salad, bound together only by the ‘dressing’ of law and the market.”


Gingrich and immigration: Peter Skerry weighs in

In yesterday’s Wall Street Journal, Program collaborator Peter Skerry (whose piece in National Affairs we covered here) has an op-ed on the debate raging in the Republican party on illegal immigration. Newt Gingrich has offered a plan in which some 11 million illegal immigrants who are currently in the United States would be granted legal status, but not a path to full citizenship. Skerry makes the case that more is in play than simple residency, and that focusing on this distinction may help to strengthen the idea of citizenship:

At a time when cosmopolitan elites are devaluing citizenship, conservatives in particular should appreciate the critical distinction between citizenship and mere legal residency, a status that would not afford the beneficiaries voting rights. If Mr. Gingrich’s critics have any doubt about this, they should listen to those few on the left who have already criticized the former House Speaker for advocating a form of ‘second-class citizenship.’

Skerry goes on to endorse Gingrich’s middle-of-the-road approach, advocating that his proposal “could actually address this genuine dilemma while acknowledging the legitimate anxieties that many Americans have about illegal immigration.”

[At our Teaching America, Juan Rangel discussed the immigrant experience of assimilation.]