Immigration, distribution of powers sparks discussion on Constitution Day

Elizabeth Reiss

Elizabeth ReissReporter

SDSU students and faculty gathered at Hilton M. Briggs Library Sept. 17 to recognize the 223rd anniversary of the creation of the U.S. Constitution by discussing the document as it relates to immigration.

The Constitution Day celebration was sponsored by the departments of political science and history, and was organized by political science professor Gary Aguiar. He recognized the importance of talking about the constitution more than two centuries after its creation.

“It raises contemporary issues and shows that it’s really a living document,” he said.

Robert Burns, former SDSU professor who was head of the political science department and dean of the Honor’s College, was the main speaker.

Burns posed the question: “Is the power over immigration policy an exclusive power of the federal government or do states have a share in that power?”

He argued that immigration law and policy is the responsibility of only the federal government.

“Even congressional inaction does not permit states to regulate it,” Burns said.

Burns talked about the history of legal cases pertaining to immigration and the Fourteenth Amendment, which grants citizenship to everyone born in the United States. He added that immigration policies tend to emerge out of economic conditions.

“The state of the economy today means we don’t see a need for that labor,” he said.

Several students in attendance asked questions and shared opinions.

Lacey Dammer, a senior majoring in Spanish and political science, said she was glad to hear dialogue “without a slant.”

“It’s a controversial topic,” she said. “I think we addressed the issue and currency of it very well.”

Constitution Day is a federal holiday that was created in 2004 as part of the Omnibus spending bill that year. The act mandates that educational institutions receiving federal funds must provide educational programming on the history of the Constitution on that day.