Brigham Young University Prelaw Review


Immigration; Corpus Linguistics; Commerce Clause; Constitution; Original Meaning; Federal Regulation; Power


This paper challenges two assumptions about the basic framework of immigration law: first, that the Constitution authorizes the federal government to regulate immigration, and second, that this power is afforded via interpretation of the Commerce Clause. By utilizing corpus linguistics analysis, this paper finds the original meaning of the Commerce Clause to refer narrowly to trade, and alongside relevant literature argues that no other basis supports federal power to regulate immigration. In summary, this paper describes the deeper problem at hand, of which all other immigration-based issues are symptomatic – an absence of constitutionally defined federal power to regulate immigration.

Included in

Law Commons