July 1, 2016

Mercatus Scholars on Independence Day, Freedom, Red Tape, and Immigration

Daniel Griswold

Director of Trade and Immigration

Richard Williams

Senior Affiliated Scholar
Summary

This Fourth of July, scholars Daniel Griswold and Richard Williams discuss the issues of immigration and bureaucratic red tape in light of Indepedence Day themes of freedom and liberty.

This Fourth of July, Mercatus Center scholars Daniel Griswold and Richard Williams each have op-eds in Tribune Content Agency papers nationwide, looking at the issues of immigration and bureaucratic red tape through the lens of Independence Day.

Daniel Griswold wrote:

When America's Founding Fathers declared their independence more than two centuries ago, they not only claimed freedom for themselves and their fellow countrymen but they also claimed it for those who had yet to arrive at our shores --the waves of future immigrants and their descendants.

The founders understood that an openness to immigration was essential to the fledgling nation's success. Included in the "long train of abuses" they declared against the king of Great Britain on July 4, 1776, was that "He has endeavoured to prevent the Population of these States; for that Purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; (and) refusing to pass others to encourage their Migration hither."

Since that first Fourth of July, America has become home to millions of immigrants who share our blessings of liberty -- more than 80 million immigrants since official records began in 1820. These immigrants came and continue to come and enjoy the same inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness that our founders declared to be the rightful inheritance of all mankind.

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Richard Williams wrote:

The Fourth of July is marked by Americans all across the country celebrating our nation’s independence with firework displays and backyard barbecues. And yet, in the 240 years since we declared our independence from Great Britain, we have slowly built up a government bureaucracy that limits the very freedom we celebrate each year.

As Thomas Jefferson once wrote, reminding Americans to be just as wary of our own government as we were of the British crown, from which we gave up so much to be separate:

“When all government, domestic and foreign, in little as in great things, shall be drawn to Washington as the center of all power, it will render powerless the checks provided of one government on another and will become as venal and oppressive as the government from which we separated.”

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