Why the Founding Fathers Would Support the DREAM Act

12/16/2010 05:21 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

In founding Constitutionalists For Gays & Immigrants, I am proud to support the DREAM Act.

As noted, the DREAM Act will basically offer an amnesty to illegal immigrants who came to America as minors, provided that they receive a higher education degree or serve in our good armed forces.

Many have complained that such immigrants should "go back to where they came from" and "get in line." However, as a Constitutionalist, I believe our Founding Fathers would actually support the DREAM Act. Here's why.

The most important line our Founding Fathers ever wrote on immigration is in our Constitution, under Article 1, Section 8, Paragraph 4: "[The Congress Shall Have The Power] To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization."

In turn, our Founding Fathers left immigration in the hands of contemporary politicians, and for that matter, before 1921, immigration to America was mostly an open policy. If one arrived in America, one likely became a citizen, the philosophy that fueled the massive amounts of immigrants who arrived at Ellis Island. Unfortunately, politicians would catch up to the Constitution.

In 1921, the Emergency Quota Act was imposed, which was strengthened by the Immigration Act of 1924, an act that imposed strict limits on how many immigrants would be allowed into America; many historians would argue these laws were the first, in American history, that actively curtailed immigration.

The architects of the Immigration Act of 1924 were Congressman Albert Johnson and Senator David Reed, both leading bigots. Congressman Johnson was the proud head of the Eugenics Research Association, a group that strongly opposed interracial marriage, as well as supported the sterilization of those who were mentally disabled.

Senator Reed, on the other hand, in defending his bigoted positions, was known for such quotes as "the races of men who have been coming to us in recent years are wholly dissimilar to the native-born Americans," as well as, "If this country ever needed a Mussolini, it needs one now."

In turn, the idea that immigrants should "go back home" and "get in line," in recognition of American immigration policies, was not a system that was carved out by our Constitution and Founding Fathers.

And granted, many would argue that the immigration system was improved by the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, but the 1965 Act still included quotas and strict limits against how many immigrants could enter America. In turn, the idea that immigration should be policed was never introduced by the Founding Fathers, but rather, by politicians like Congressman Johnson and Senator Reed.

If immigration is to be decided by contemporary politicians, then contrast Johnson and Reed with politicians like Senator William Evarts and President Ronald Reagan.

It was Senator Evarts who led the charge to fund the Statue of Liberty, where he picked the words of poet Emma Lazurus to rest at the foot of our Lady Liberty: "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free..." in demonstrating his support of immigration and our symbolic welcoming of all the good immigrants who arrived at Ellis Island.

Outside of immigration, Senator Evarts was well known for helping to found United States Court of Appeals, in addition to serving as the primary legal counsel of the Alabama Claims, a tribunal where the United States successfully received settlement funds from the British government by proving its assistance for the Confederacy.

And it was President Ronald Reagan who instituted amnesty for many illegal immigrants in America by signing the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986.

If our Founding Fathers encouraged us to be led by our modern politicians, in terms of immigration, would they not encourage us to follow the vision left by Senator Evarts and President Reagan over that of Congressman Johnson and Senator Reed?

More importantly, under a Constitutional analysis, I believe our Founding Fathers would encourage massive amounts of immigration. Consider these parts of our Constitution -

Article 1, Section 8, Paragraph 12: "[The Congress Shall Have The Power] To raise and support Armies."

And -

Article 1, Section 8, Paragraph 13: "[The Congress Shall Have The Power] To provide and maintain a Navy."

And -

Article 1, Section 8, Paragraph 15: "[The Congress Shall Have The Power] To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions."

And -

Article 1, Section 8, Paragraph 16: "[The Congress Shall Have The Power] To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress"

In recognizing the threats of invasion and war, our Founding Fathers made it very clear that "Armies" and a "Navy" should be maintained, under the vision they wrote for America. However, such departments of the armed forces would be terribly difficult to sustain without positive growth. According to the 2008 figures of the World Bank, the fertility rate for America is at 2.1 per women, putting us in danger of shrinking as a country, should we rely solely on births to propel and replenish our populations.

As a Constitutionalist, I believe our Founding Fathers envisioned America to be a country that claimed robust growth, forever able to defend itself, with strong armies and a great navy. In turn, with our potential to be shrinking, according to current birthrates, I believe most Founding Fathers would actively encourage immigration, especially for those who arrived here as innocent minors.

And most importantly, it would take a terribly misguided politician, to claim that he/she is against the DREAM Act on the basis of American virtue - that potential beneficiaries should "go back home" and "get in line." Perpetuating such an idea is merely perpetuating the vision put forth by Congressman Johnson and Senator Reed, who by all accounts, were proud bigots, not proud Constitutionalists.

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