Academic journal article Denver Journal of International Law and Policy

Immigration Legislation Pursuant to Threats to US National Security

Academic journal article Denver Journal of International Law and Policy

Immigration Legislation Pursuant to Threats to US National Security

Article excerpt

This article will examine the United States' immigration legislation in the face of threats to national security. Throughout history foreign enemies have threatened the "American way of life," from the Germans in World War I, to the spread of Communism, to the current threat of terrorism. As history has demonstrated, the U.S. has taken drastic measures to protect its citizens. This paper will consider those actions and evaluate the PATRIOT Act's adequacy in resolving the present threat to national security. Further, this paper will propose reforms to certain immigration provisions of the PATRIOT Act.


The United States Constitution grants Congress the power to "establish a uniform Rule of Naturalization" (1) and grants the Executive Branch the inherent sovereign authority to regulate immigration. (2) Aliens seeking entrance into the United States have no claim of right; (3) rather admission is a privilege granted by the sovereign nation upon such terms as it prescribes. (4)

The United States relies upon immigration policies to protect itself against subversives. (5) U.S. history includes spies, saboteurs, anarchists, and terrorists as parts of this subversive class, it has feared immigrants who seek to destroy the government rather than strive for the shelter of its freedoms. (6)

The protective immigration policies that the United States has legislated and implemented have been in response to fear, whether it is in response to a physical attack on the country, or an attack on its culture, political beliefs, or freedoms. (7) When immigrants threaten the "American way of life," Americans respond by uniting and displaying a strong sense of nativism. (8) Nativism is a concept deeply rooted in American history, dating as far back as the late 1830's. (9) Nativism is defined as an intense opposition to a specific minority on the ground of its foreign ("un-American") connections. (10) Nativism was the energizing force behind the modern day theory of nationalism. (11) Nativistic activities were evidenced throughout U.S. history, resulting in immigration reform during World War I, World War II, and against the fear of Communism. (12)


World War I

During World War I, there was an increased concern over subversives and radical aliens, and legislation against those persons was strengthened. (13) Dissident immigrants were imprisoned for their anti-war campaigns. (14) Under wartime conditions, Congress passed the so-called Anarchists Act of October 16, 1918, which ordered the deportation of alien anarchists residing within the United States and made it a felony punishable by imprisonment for those deported to reenter or attempt to reenter the country. (15) This Act was amended by the June 5, 1920 Act which included in the anarchist class aliens who advocate "the unlawful damage, injury or destruction of property, or sabotage." (16) As an effect of the war and the wartime legislation, there was anti-German sentiment pervading throughout the United States. (17) The Justice Department gathered German aliens into internment camps under the President's summary powers. (18) The total number of arrested aliens rose from 1200 to 6300 by the end of 1918. (19) Further, the regulations governing the remaining Germans were tightened, requiring them to register and "forbidding them to move without official permission." (20)

The climate of repression established during World War I continued against Communists even after the conclusion of the war. (21) In 1919, the U.S. government responded to a politically motivated bombing of Attorney General Palmer's home by rounding up alien members of the two communist parties. (22) Approximately three thousand aliens were held for deportation in response to this threat on the U.S. (23)

World War II

Another example of the U.S. government taking action against potentially threatening immigrants occurred during World War II. …

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