Immigration has a profound impact on the issues that Americans say matter most to them. Concerns about national security, the quality of education, high tax burdens, urban sprawl, and many other “front burner” issues are directly affected by an influx of more than one million immigrants annually. The U.S. Census Bureau projects that, left unchecked, immigration will be the principal cause of a 50 percent increase in our population during the first half of the 21st century. A factor that important to our national future deserves comprehensive and thoughtful consideration by the people’s elected representatives. Yet while poll after poll shows that the public is anxious to consider a wide array of immigration reforms, legal and illegal immigration continue to careen out of control.
Mass immigration is fueling unprecedented population growth.
Immigration now adds more than one million people—the equivalent of two Denvers—to our population every year. At our current pace of immigration, our population will grow to more than 400 million people by 2050. That’s tens of millions of additional people needing schools, jobs, and housing—as well as water and other precious natural resources.
Today’s immigration is extremely costly.
Unlike previous eras of immigration, today’s immigrants are 50 percent more likely to use welfare than native-born Americans. Providing for the needs of immigrants costs American taxpayers as much as $20 billion a year. We cannot provide high quality education, health care, and retirement security for our own people if we continue to bring in endless numbers of poor, unskilled immigrants. America is still working to meet the challenge of assisting our own poor and disadvantaged; mass immigration compounds the problem and impedes efforts to raise the standards of living for all.
Mass immigration depresses the wages of poorer Americans.
The gap between rich and poor in America continues to widen. Job competition by waves of new immigrants depresses the wages and salaries of American workers and hits hardest at minority workers and those without high school degrees. America’s focus must be on training our own labor force to face competition from abroad, not on importing new workers to compete for jobs at home.
Mass immigration conflicts with today’s national security priorities.
Current immigration levels are so high that immigration officials are unable to thoroughly screen immigrants before allowing them into the country—as September 11, 2001 tragically underscored. Lower legal immigration levels, an entry-exit system to detect those who have overstayed their visas, and heightened enforcement efforts are essential in order to regain control of the system and meet today’s heightened need to know who is coming into the country.
Mass immigration is overcrowding our schools.
In the last decade, school enrollments have increased by 16 percent, an increase that the U.S. Census Bureau attributes largely to the immigration influx. Department of Education officials say that by 2100, the nation’s schools will have to find room for 94 million students-nearly double the current number.
Mass immigration is straining our already fragile environment.
As our population grows, demands for resources increase; increased pollution, deforestation, waste, habitat destruction, and soil erosion are the result. America’s environmental priorities can’t be reconciled with the new infrastructure and resource consumption that continued population growth will require. Resources like water and energy are straining under the constantly increasing demand.
Already, America’s sprawling urban areas are encroaching on fragile coastal wetlands and paving over farmland at alarming rates. Just maintaining the current massive level of immigration will require the construction of millions of new homes (and the resulting loss of farmland and open space) and put tens of millions more cars of already crowded roads.
The U.S. today is a fully populated nation of almost 290 million people, not the sparsely settled territory of 150 years ago. Our priority should be preserving our remaining wilderness areas, conserving our natural resources, and ensuring a better quality of life for future generations.
It’s Time to Reduce Immigration to Sensible, Manageable Levels.
America needs an immigration policy that helps us reach our goals as a nation, a policy that takes into account the environment, the economy, and the ability of our infrastructure to accommodate large numbers of immigrants.
Common sense dictates that we must stop adding new burdens to institutions and systems that are struggling. Immigration alone did not cause these problems, but making real environmental headway, safeguarding national security, and repairing our failing educational and health care systems will be all but impossible as long as we continue today’s massive immigration levels.
The Choice is Ours.
In 1972, a two-year study by a joint presidential-congressional commission with representatives of major corporations, unions, environmental organizations, and urban, ethnic, and women’s groups recommended freezing immigration at its then-current level of about 400,000 a year as part of a national population policy. Yet since then, annual immigration levels have risen dramatically—to over one million today.
Business interests and humanitarian concerns are important considerations that must be weighed in the formulation of immigration policy. But it is also important that the interests of the American public are not allowed to take the back seat. Our immigration policy must take into account the legitimate needs of American business and the political, economics, and familial interests of the millions of people around the world who would like to immigrate to the United States. But most of all, U.S. immigration policy must be designed to benefit the American public and to ensure a healthy and prosperous future for their descendants.