Is there any reason to see this part of the constitution as granting the federal government powers over immigration? I’ve been back and forth with someone who insists this is an enumerated power that went into effect on the given date (thus as restriction, which he contends is the reason for it being in the section on restraints of congressional power), but my understanding is that the enumerated powers are given certain restrictions in the section, meaning that this must be a restriction on some other power before enumerated. I would gather that’s a restraint on the power to lay and collect taxes (and so on). Am I wrong in this belief?
This clause was intended to keep Congress from restricting or banning importation of slaves prior to 1808 under its Article I, Section 8 power over “commerce with foreign Nations.” Republicans of the 1790s argued that despite this intention, which was reiterated in several states (notably Massachusetts and South Carolina) during the ratification debates, it applied to all immigration; by this reading, the Commerce Clause grants Congress power to regulate immigration.