Earlier this month, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued new policy guidance regarding inadmissibility based on membership in a communist or other totalitarian party. The agency’s policy manual was thus updated to include a step-by-step overview of the inadmissibility determination, as well as guidance on evidence and burden of proof, and applicable exceptions and waivers.
Although the guidance elaborates on and reinforces a policy that has been in place for decades, it was nevertheless predictably attacked by pro-communist-China media, mainly because China – whose communist party consists of at least 90 million members – would undoubtedly be hardest hit. For instance, one outlet claimed that the guidance “adds a new dimension in Washington’s ongoing aggression against the Chinese government and people, and the Left more broadly.” For everyone else, who is not either a pro-Beijing lobbyist or a radical left-winger instinctively sympathetic to any anti-U.S. regime, keeping communists and other totalitarians from getting green cards should be a rational and uncontroversial position.
After all, as USCIS points out, “membership in or affiliation with the Communist Party or any other totalitarian party is inconsistent and incompatible with the Naturalization Oath of Allegiance to the United States of America, which includes pledging to ‘support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States.’”
The origins of the policy date back to the Bolshevik seizure of power in Russia in 1917 and the subsequent attempts of red activists to spread the communist revolution worldwide. Thus, Congress passed the Immigration Act of 1918, which authorized the detention and deportation of alien anarchists regardless of when they arrived in the U.S. The law defined “anarchists” as those who wished to violently overthrow the United States government and encompassed communists. It also reflected an awareness that communists intentionally fomented anarchy and disorder to destabilize countries, thereby making them softer targets for communist revolution.
Following the Second World War, when the U.S. helped defeat fascist totalitarianism only to see it be replaced by the communist version, Congress passed legislation – culminating in the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 – which rendered aliens (both immigrants and nonimmigrants) inadmissible, and ineligible for citizenship, on the basis of membership in or affiliation with a communist or another totalitarian party. (The Immigration Act of 1990 softened these provisions, applying them only to immigrants.)
In late 2020, the communist threat, and the legislation aiming to address it, may seem like ancient history – especially to younger people in the West who neither experienced communism nor remember the Cold War. And yet, the fact remains that communism is a brutal and oppressive system that killed approximately 100 million people throughout the world since 1917. Also keep in mind that the U.S.’s greatest geopolitical and economic adversary today, China, is a communist-run dictatorship (albeit buttressed by large amounts of crony capitalism). Whether it is its treatment of the Uyghur Muslim minority, or its reckless cover-up of COVID-19, which undoubtedly helped the disease spread throughout the world, the CCP is a tyrannical and duplicitous organization that does not wish the United States and its people well. Given that many people who are neither communists nor totalitarians wish to immigrate to the U.S., there is no reason to give green cards to the members and affiliates of such organizations as the CCP