The Population-Growth-Through-Mass-Immigration Lobby
The Population-Growth-Through-Mass-Immigration Lobby
Although the population of the United States – 327 million in 2018 – is the third largest in the world, Americans are constantly told by various analysts and politicians that America needs more people and, therefore, more immigration. While FAIR and other organizations have been consistently refuting this false and irresponsible narrative, pro-American immigration reformers often face an uphill battle in this regard. This is because there are numerous powerful, influential, and vociferous lobbies promoting population growth through mass immigration.
The defenders of population growth are almost universally institutional, not individuals. The public is generally concerned about continued population growth. The discrepancy between citizen and institutional interests is clear. Individuals benefit from moderate population density, open spaces, and a healthy environment. Institutions benefit from increased membership and large consumer markets and labor pools.
Why does Congress not act to limit mass immigration? As is usually the case with otherwise inexplicable public policy decisions, the answer lies with lobbies. Following is a list of influential special interest lobbies that have successfully lobbied for immigration-fueled population growth.
Labor unions have been losing membership for over half a century. Gone are the days when the labor movement opposed mass immigration and the importation of cheap foreign labor. Currently, the AFL-CIO supports amnesty for America’s 12.5 million illegal aliens and immigration expansion. In California, the unions are even attempting to shield illegal aliens from deportation. Recruitment of immigrant workers is seen as a growth opportunity, although an increase in foreign guest workers, which industry wants, does not fit that profile. While the power of the unions may grow with more members, increasing the labor pool through immigration reduces the bargaining leverage of individuals and translates into stagnating or falling wages and working conditions for American workers.
Many advocacy groups support immigration increases and amnesty for illegal immigrants, while opposing enforcement measures aimed at denying jobs to illegal immigrants, such as the E-Verify system. These groups include “ethnic advocates” such as the National Council of La Raza and the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee. Others with a similar agenda include religious groups, with the Roman Catholic Church — which like the unions is also coping with a membership decline despite a fast rising share of immigrant members — at the forefront. The Interfaith Immigration Coalition – which groups over fifty Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, and Muslim organizations – is also pro-mass-immigration and pro-amnesty, while the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints adheres to an equivocal position on immigration. Advocacy lobbies generally promote legislation that benefits the continued growth of their particular constituency.
U.S. Chamber of Commerce
“The world’s largest business organization” has long championed cheap labor and open borders. In addition to supporting general amnesty and mass immigration, the Chamber also supports increased immigration and temporary guest worker programs. The Chamber has softened its initial opposition to mandatory E-Verify – which assures that jobs go only to legal workers – but nevertheless makes it conditional upon being “coupled with a workable agricultural guest worker program.”
Several industries promote specific types of immigration. These include:
- Technology - Companies such as Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and Amazon promote expansion of the skilled workers program (H1-B visa). The H1-B program increases competition for high-tech jobs, thereby reducing wage pressures. Guest workers also contribute to the ability of employers to hold down payrolls by replacing older and thus more expensive American workers with younger, less expensive and more compliant workers who depend on their sponsor for their work visa.
- Hospitality - The service and entertainment industries support expanding non-skilled guest worker (H-2B visa) programs and a general amnesty for illegal immigrants. The National Restaurant Association also supports DACA amnesty and has made its support of E-Verify conditional on numerous prerequisites. Their position is influenced by the industry’s role as one of the nation’s largest employers of illegal aliens.
- Agribusiness - Growers, producers, manufacturers and distributors of labor-intensive harvested crops are all deeply invested in maintaining a large supply of cheap unskilled labor. Agricultural employers have lobbied extensively for easing the protections for American workers in the agricultural guest worker program (H-2A visa), and against required use of E-Verify.
- Financial - Every additional immigrant is seen as valuable contributor to a growing Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and, therefore, to the financial sector. While U.S. wages have been largely stagnant for four decades – in many ways coinciding with the post-1965 wave of unchecked mass immigration – and the labor force participation rate (63 percent in 2019) has not yet returned to pre-Great-Recession highs, the Business Roundtable is lobbying to increase competition for jobs and, thereby, suppress wages further for American workers by importing more foreign workers. The BR also supports DACA amnesty.
- Construction and Real Estate - The construction industry was once a stepping stone to middle-class America; today it has become the second largest employer of illegal aliens. In addition to benefiting from low wage immigrant labor, the construction and real estate industries welcome the housing demand generated by rapid population growth. The National Association of Realtors views mass immigration as a major “opportunity” and notes approvingly that “U.S. real estate markets are increasingly becoming international, and changing demographics brought forth by immigration and growing interest from foreigners are positioned to bolster home sales activity and prices.”
Concentrated Benefits, Diffused Costs
While many lobbies promote increasing the U.S. population through mass immigration because it offers them numerous economic and institutional advantages, the policies they support are extremely short-sighted. For example, mass immigration is often floated as a way to bail out such unfunded liabilities as Social Security and Medicaid. Yet, even some cheerleaders of this idea admit that it is only a temporary fix. What they fail to acknowledge is that immigrants are no less susceptible to the process of aging than native-born Americans. This means that they too will be eligible to collect benefits once they reach retirement age. In addition, due to our current chain migration policies, working-age immigrants frequently sponsor retirement-age relatives. Rather than solving the problem, this only exacerbates it.
In fact, as the Center of Immigration Studies points out: “It is possible for immigration to maintain the current working-age share or ratio of workers to retirees, but it would roughly require net immigration five times the level projected by the Census Bureau through 2060. This would create a total population of 706 million in 2060 — more than double the current population.” CIS also found that “fertility rates have declined much more rapidly among immigrants than the native-born. As a result, immigration’s modest impact on slowing the aging of America is becoming even smaller.”
Last but not least, if maintaining population growth is a priority, why not implement policies encouraging native-born Americans to have more children? Perhaps reducing some of the pressure that mass unchecked immigration exerts on working- and middle-class Americans – in the form of depressed wages, intense job competition, and other factors – will help those Americans who want children but fear they cannot afford them?
The bottom line is that interest groups and lobbies benefit from a seemingly never-ending influx of potential new consumers, workers, and members. However, it is ultimately ordinary Americans and – in some ways – many immigrants themselves who pay the price. In other words, population growth through mass immigration is a classic case of concentrated benefits and diffuse costs.