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    I have a couple questions about jurisdictional matters on Naturalization and Immigration Laws.

    First, was the authority over regulating a state’s immigration ever delegated to the Federal Government? I do see this clause: “To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization,” but(and this leads me to my 2nd question) this clause would only mean the Federal Government controls who is a Citizen or not, correct? If I am correct on my assumption, does this mean people in this United States were only to be naturalized citizens of the Federal Government or would there be a dual citizenship of Federal and State governments, with the States controlling who is a citizen of their state.

    Thank you! Sorry if that was a bit confusing.


    Not at all confusing.

    People commonly say now that the Federal Government has exclusive power over immigration. This is incorrect. Article I, Section 9 of the Constitution says that “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,” which means that the states’ preexisting complete control over this area of law remained intact until then.

    Nothing in the Constitution says that the states’ power in this area ended in 1808. While Congress can legislate about it, recent court decisions in this area have been based on the incorrect assumption that it is up to the Federal Government whether taxpayers of a state must provide illegal immigrants free education, medical care, etc.


    The States whose economies depended upon slavery had this clause put in the Constitution to make sure they could import slaves for 20 years after ratification or until 1808? In other words slave states expected a movement to outlaw the importation of slaves? So slave states did not fear the Federal Govt. outlawing slavery in their individual states, but they did fear the Federal Govt. outlawing importation of slaves in their individual states?


    That’s correct. Yet, in the controversy over the Alien & Sedition Acts, Republicans such as Jefferson and Madison insisted that the Alien Friends Act was unconstitutional because it was up to the states to decide who immigrated until 1808.

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