Mainland Restrictionists Are Mild Pussycats by Island Standards

By David North on July 26, 2010

Sometimes it is useful to view a public policy dispute from a different angle.

Let's compare, for instance, the posture of the restrictionists on the mainland of the U.S. to those in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Those on the mainland say we should try to enforce the immigration law, and hold down the annual arrivals of new immigrants. There is an unspoken assumption that the new arrivals and the long-term residents will all face the same tax laws. Similarly, everyone assumes that any U.S. citizen can be a state's governor.

The mainland restrictionists are, by island standards, mild-mannered pussycats.

The delegates to the ongoing Virgin Islands Constitutional Convention have voted to establish three levels of citizenship, according to this report.

First, there are to be the "ancestral native Virgin Islanders"; next down the ladder are "native Virgin Islanders"; and at the bottom, other U.S. citizens. This group would include everyone born on the mainland and all naturalized citizens.

The ancestral ones were either born in the V.I. before 1932, obviously a small and rapidly disappearing population, or those who can trace their ancestry to pre-1932 residents, a much larger group.

The ancestral Virgin Islanders are excused – forever – from paying real estate taxes, according to the current draft of the constitution, which will go to the voters later this year.

The ancestral ones, and the native Virgin Islanders are the only ones allowed to run for governor or lieutenant governor in this document. (If such rules were in place on the mainland Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-CA) would not be a governor, and Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and Mel Martinez (R-FL) would not have been elected to the U.S. Senate.)

The Obama Administration and his Justice Department have, appropriately, criticized these provisions on equal protection grounds, and if the island voters support them anyway, there will be federal court cases drawn up against the document, probably successful ones.

Think how these proposed rules would play on the mainland. Only immigrants and descendants of recent immigrants would pay property taxes. All governors would either be native-born in their own states or the descendants of such native-born.

Mainland restrictionists would never dream of such strictures.