Evidence of immigrants’ increased presence in the United States is everywhere. Whether in California and its open southern border with Mexico or in Maine where the Department of Labor has opened a service center for migrant blueberry pickers, years of liberalized immigration laws, especially those that govern visa issuance, diminished enforcement in the interior and at the border, plus 1 million legal permanent residents added annually have pushed the U.S. immigration population to a record 41.3 million through 2013. That’s more than double the 1990 total, triple the 1980 number and quadruple 1970’s figure.
|Migrant farmworker in Maine rakes blueberries.
Photo: The Bangor Daily News
Now, an alarming new Census Bureau report which the Center for Immigration Studies analyzed in depth predicts that within a mere 45 years, nearly 20 percent of America’s population will be foreign-born. Further, between 2014 and 2060, the aggregate U.S. population will increase from 319 million to reach 400 million in 2051 before eventually hitting 417 million in 2060.
Another dubious milestone will be achieved in 2023 when the nation’s legal and illegal population hits 51 million, a figure that will represent 82 percent of America’s population growth.
It’s time to slam on the breaks!
The U.S. needs to return to sensible, and more sustainable, immigration laws. (See CAPS’ suggestions here.) Before the 1950s, the average annual legal permanent resident inflow was about 250,000, but increased to more than 1 million between 2000 and 2012. Changes in the law that propelled those increases included counting parents of adult U.S. citizens as numerically exempt immediate relatives, more commonly known as chain migration.
Congress could, if it had the will, end chain migration and birthright citizenship, two major contributors to population growth. Get tougher on fraud-riddled asylum and refugee applications. Mandatory E-verify would eliminate the jobs magnet that attracts millions of illegal immigrants. Reconsider temporary protected status, often not temporary at all.
|Former U.S. Rep. Barbara Jordan offered a commonsense immigration plan.
Unnecessary visas abound, some of them job related. Such visas carry a double negative. They hurt unemployed Americans. And since many visa holders never return home, they add to population growth. And for heaven’s sake, deport aliens. Under Obama’s administration, hardly anyone is sent home. Instead, they settle in the U.S. and start families or send for their relatives.
California, the nation’s most populated state with 40 million residents, is in a historic drought and cannot accommodate more immigrants. Yet the state’s Department of Finance projects 52 million people by 2060. An analysis of Census Bureau and California statistics reveals that all of California’s 5 million population growth from 2000 to 2010 resulted from foreign immigration – immigrants and their children.
The U.S. sorely needs a credible immigration policy. Civil rights activist and former U.S. Rep. Barbara Jordan (D-TX) offered this example during her congressional testimony shortly before she died:
Those who should get in, get in; those who should be kept out, are kept out; and those who should not be here will be required to leave.