Major upheavals are happening while the two parties are wrangling over the
president's biological urges.
Immigration is a national issue, but many of the national legislators have
been "bought." Although poll after poll indicates that most Americans would like to
see immigration reduced to traditional levels (about 250,000 a year), present
immigration policy is dictated by a mix of industries that benefit from cheap
labor, 15,000 immigration lawyers, and a host of intellectuals doing penance
for the nation's past sins, believing that bringing in annually 1 million of
the world's 4 billion poor will reduce world poverty.
The logical error in the safety valve argument is vividly illustrated by the
environmental writer Roy Beck, who offers a marbles-in-the-jar metaphor. If a
jar contains billions of marbles, removing 1 million each year will not make
it a more comfortable place very soon. As Beck relates, "The size and shape of
the United States doesn't just happen. Immigration policy plays a major role in
inflating the level of traffic congestion, of overcrowding in our schools, of
urban sprawl and of the destruction of natural habitat. Congress has its hand
on the lever that largely determines whether America remains in a form we
knew, or is filled and distorted into something beyond recognition."
For over a decade immigration has posited a moral dilemma for me, an
immigrant, but I concluded that at an awesome party someone must close the door if the
gathering is not to turn into an awesome riot. The statistics overwhelmingly
justify immigration reduction. Consider these figures from the Center for
Immigration Studies: The number of immigrants living here has almost tripled
since 1970, from 9.6 million to 26.3 million.
The immigrant population is growing 6.5 times faster than the native-born
population, slightly over 4 percent per year compared to .6 percent per year
As a percentage of the U.S. population, immigrants have more than doubled,
from 4.8 percent in 1970 to 9.8 percent in 1998. Immigration has become the
determinate factor in population growth, as immigration and births to
immigrants have been equal to 70 percent of the increase in the U.S.
in the 1990s.
Immigration has significantly increased the size of the school-age population.
Immigration has dramatically increased the supply of workers with very low
levels of education. The poverty rate for immigrants is nearly 50 percent
higher than that of natives, with immigrants accounting for one in seven
persons living in poverty. If the children (ages 17 and under) of immigrants
are also included, then immigrants and their U.S.-born children account for
one in five persons living in poverty (22 percent). As a consequence, the
proportion of immigrant households receiving welfare is 30 to 50 percent
higher than that of natives.
Dan Stein, the executive director of the Federation for American Immigration
Reform (called FAIR), which has devoted itself for 20 years to fair reductions
of immigration, writes: "The corrupt Mexican government and its drug cartel
allies now actively interfere with U.S. border operations; they seek to
influence U.S. domestic affairs and U.S. elections. Immigration lawyers are
multiplying faster than the number of illegal aliens in federal prisons. Huge
industries are recruiting foreign and illegal workers in greater numbers than
ever. And big corporations that use illegal and foreign labor are making
lavish political contributions and hiring influential Washington lobbyists."
Economist Joseph L. Daleiden recently pointed out that calling immigration
reduction advocates "xenophobes" is like saying that anyone who does not want
10 children is antichildren. I don't think even Emma Lazarus, the poet who
penned the welcoming verse at the Statue of Liberty, would consider it
or moral to import the world's poor into a nation that already contains large
pockets of them.
Herbert Berry, Ph.D., is president of North Carolina for