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Internal Passports: The Bad Idea of Regional Visas

Some people think otherwise:

State and local governments, the authorities best positioned to understand their own needs and capacities, should have a greater say in directing the flow of immigration.

To that end, Washington could let states sponsor regional visas. Like H-1B employment visas, regional visas would last three years and could be extended to six years.

Generally speaking, City Journal is one of the most advanced sources of conservative news and ideas out there.  This time, however, they’ve laid an egg, probably not intentionally.

The problem with this is simple: in a country where the ruling mandarins are obsessed with micromanaging the population, sooner or later restrictions on immigrants to travel and live will be applied to the locals.  This, of course, smacks of the internal passports that the Soviet Union used to use on its people to keep them in a restricted geographical area.  The Chinese also used a version of this to prevent the countryside from emptying itself out on the cities (they also used to ship people out to the countryside for “re-education” reasons, especially during the Cultural Revolution).

It may seem like a stretch, but once you extend the concept of travel and residence restriction to such a large group on a legal basis, you invite the same kind of regulation on a broader base of the population.

Back when 9/11 took place, I said that, if Al Gore had won the election, he would have used the resulting airport security to cull people from flying, which in a country as large as ours would have been a de facto internal passport.  Today of course we have “no-fly lists” whose main claim to fame comes when people who can’t figure out why they’re there sue the government.  I’m surprised that this regime hasn’t used them to ground its opponents, but it’s wasted too much political capital on Obamacare.

As long as we are the “United” States–and that, IMHO, is not an immutable given–the policies for the granting of citizenship should rest with the Federal government, and the rights therefrom–including going from state to state–should also be universal within the country.  Some states, finding the Federal government’s approach lacking in this regard, have tried to take the job unto themselves.  But in this case we need to make our Federal government work the way it’s supposed to and not passing to the states something they really don’t have any business getting into.


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