WHY A 100,000 LIMIT ON
IMMIGRATION IS REALISTIC AND NECESSARY
Currently, the United States' population is on trend to reach the 500 million mark by 2050. Our population is not just growing- it is growing rapidly. Some states, like Florida and California are growing more rapidly than many Third World nations. This explosive growth has put immense strain on our natural resources, cities and environmental health. There are many problems associated with immense population growth, such as heavy traffic, air pollution, water and energy shortages, overcrowded schools, declines in purchasing power and quality of life, tax increases, and soil erosion. Yet the average American citizen's birthrate is at replacement level. What many people don't realize is that over 70% of the U.S.'s growth is due to mass- immigration generated population growth.
The problems associated with this unprecedented growth become unsolvable in the face of waves of over one million new immigrants a year.
That is why CCN believes the U.S. needs a time-out on mass-immigration perhaps more than anything else. An all-inclusive cap on legal immigration would dramatically cut down on both current immigration and future chain migration. It would give the U.S. time to stabilize the population, to address the problems created by over-stressed city infrastructures and poverty, and to shape an environmental policy to protect strained natural resources. A moratorium would lend time for new immigrants and poor citizens alike to attain greater opportunities through higher wages and better educational opportunities.
The United States now accepts over one million legal immigrants each year, which is more than all of the other industrialized nations in the world, combined. The sheer number of immigrants has simply overwhelmed our country's ability to continue to provide for newcomers and natives alike, and in many cases has only added to America's problems. We need to focus attention on the fact that legal immigration is three times as great as illegal immigration and accounts for 55%-75% of the multibillion dollar annual costs. The most current data show that his wave of legal immigrants is far more likely to use welfare, receive higher direct cash assistance, and use taxpayer funded social services. Our country is already burdened by underfunded schools, overcrowded prisons, persistent unemployment, increasingly violent crime, accelerating resource depletion, an ever-growing budget deficit and a rapidly decreasing quality of life. Adding over one million immigrants to our country each year only makes there problems much more difficult to solve.
Given that the projected net cost to taxpayers of legal immigration alone will be $932 billion over the next ten years, at an average of $70 billion a year, a moratorium on immigration in excess of 100,000 per year is essential to cut the budget deficit. There is widespread agreement that reducing federal deficits and balancing the budget are crucial steps in ensuring the future economic well-being of the United States. America is now the world's greatest debtor nation. If immigration levels remain at the same or greater rate, most of these multibillion dollar costs would continue to be borne by taxpayers.
While setting levels of legal immigration, enforcing immigration law, and controlling U.S. borders are at the discretion of the federal government, state and local taxpayers end up paying the majority of the costs. For instance, in 1996 legal immigration alone cost Floridians $6 billion, up 77% from 1992. Legal immigration cost Texans $7 billion, New Yorkers $14 billion and Californians an amazing $28 billion. These are the compounded costs of Public Schools, Bilingual Education, Medicaid, AFDC, Social Security, Supplemental Security Income, Housing Assistance, Criminal Justice, as well as job loss by Americans and other programs, for a total cost to American taxpayers of $136 billion dollars. These costs will continue to rise as long as immigrations remains at these levels. A five-year immigration moratorium would temporarily curb these costs and give state governments time to work with the federal government to establish a more responsible long-term immigration policy.
American workers suffer $133 billion in wage losses resulting mainly from immigrant competition. Blacks and other minorities, including other recent immigrants, are historically the most adversely impacted by current high levels of immigration. Beyond the millions of workers who have been displaced by immigrants, countless other Americans are bing affected by declines in working conditions and depressed wages due to immigrant competition in the labor market. Unfortunately, the enormous numbers of low-wage, low-skill immigrants are displacing many American workers, with a disproportionately negative effect on America's native-born Blacks. It has been estimated that 2.35 million American workers were displaced from their jobs as a direct result of immigration in 1993 alone, with these displaced workers requiring public assistance at a cost of $11.92 billion.
A five-year moratorium is politically realistic. Poll after poll suggests that an increasing number of U.S. citizens of all ethnic backgrounds want to see substantial reductions in immigration. For example, in November, 1994 a Times/Mirror Center Poll indicated that 82% of Americans think that the United States should restrict immigration. A September, 1994 CBS/New York Times poll showed that 63% of those surveyed favor reduction in legal immigration, with political affiliation as follows: Republicans 66%, Democrats 60%, and independents 64%. The 1992 Latino National Political Survey, the largest poll of Latinos in the United States, indicated that more than 7 out of 10 Latinos felt there were too many immigrants.
The proposed reduction from 1,200,000 to 100,000 legal immigrants per year is not an arbitrary number. Further reduction of legal immigration into the United States below 100,000 would be undesirable because 100,000 represents a reasonable balance between reducing cost and honoring our humanitarian concerns. We would not want to further delay immigration of spouses and minor children of U.S. citizens, nor would we want to stop accepting at least some refugees and priority workers each year. Although the 100,000 limit is a number solidly grounded in the urgent reality of our current situation, some might consider it too "idealistic" to support in the face of tough opposition. But, the admission of any number of immigrants in excess of 100,000 poses additional severe, and demonstrably unacceptable burdens on American taxpayers, minorities, and the poor, homeless, and unemployed as indicated elsewhere in this document. A higher than 100,000 limit would also result in increased pressure to continue the momentum of chain migration, which results in ever-increasing numbers of immigrants. Since immigration is a discretionary policy, the burden of proof is on those advocating more than 100,000 immigrants per year for five years to justify their position.
Americans should not feel obligated to reunify all the world's families who separated at their own volition. With the possible exception of certain immigrants with a genuine fear for their own safety, families could also be reunified if they returned to their country of origin or attempted to settle in a third country. An additional option during separation could also include visits on temporary visas. Given the gravity of America's budgetary, social, resource, and other problems, preference for the limited number of newcomers we can sustainably accept each year should go to the spouses and minor children of U.S. citizens. It simply does not follow that because someone chooses to leave their country of origin (thus voluntarily splintering their family) to come to the United States (among their several destination options) that the United States is obligated to accept all of those who desire to come here and eventually often admit and support many of their additional family members.
Immigration is the driving force behind U.S. population growth, presently accounting for half of total net population increase. Our population growth, which at three million per year is the highest in the developed world, is a root cause of many of the United States' problems and presents a serious threat to our limited natural resources such as topsoil, forests, clean air and water, and healthy ecosystems. If present trends of topsoil loss continue, for example, only 0.6 acres of arable land per person will be available by 2050, whereas more than 1.2 acres per person is needed to provide a diverse diet (and 1.8 acres of arable land per person is available currently). The U.S. total fertility rate has been below replacement level since the early 1970s. If it were not for immigration, U.S. population would be stabilizing in the first half of the next century. It should be noted that respected demographers Ahlburg and Vaupel have projected that if current trends continue, the U.S. population will double in size to half a billion people by the year 2050. If Congress does nothing to reduce immigration, 90% of all U.S. population growth between 1993 and 2050 will be due to immigrants and their descendants.
Establishing an immigration moratorium is in the national interest. A moratorium would provide the breathing space necessary to develop a long-term immigration policy that truly serves the national interest by recognizing the limits to government spending, ordering spending priorities around the needs of American citizens and immigrants already living in the United States, and establishing realistic limits on the number of immigrants that the U.S. economy, society, and environment can sustain. At a time when initial efforts to reduce spending and balance the budget have already resulted in painful cuts in public services for many American citizens, the United States simply cannot afford to continue to accept almost half of the world's immigrants.