San Bernardino: From Paradise to Overpopulated Urban Nightmare

Published on August 17th, 2015

When I read that 9 percent of San Bernardino County’s public school students are homeless, I immediately remembered Gov. Jerry Brown’s open invitation last year to all Mexicans to come to California “whether they have permission or not.” Brown gushed: “You’re all welcome in California today.”

As I wrote shortly after Brown’s outrageous comment, as a native Californian, every time I read a story about my home state, my heart breaks. San Bernardino was once a vacation paradise, the Palm Springs of its day. Cinema historians recall that between 1920 and the beginning of World War II, San Bernardino was the world’s movie preview capital. Stars like Clark Gable, Spencer Tracy and Joan Crawford flocked to its ornate theaters.

Children in San Bernardino living in cheap motels where their playground is the parking lot.
Children in San Bernardino living in cheap motels where their playground is the parking lot.  Source: LA Times

Today, San Bernardino is in steep, irreversible decline, a city to avoid. A Los Angeles Times story identified San Bernardino as bankrupt, and the poorest California city of its size, the nation’s second poorest behind Detroit, and symbolic of America’s worst urban decay. See slideshow images here.

San Bernardino’s woes are population-driven. The county is the nation’s 12th largest with a soaring population which now stands at about 2.1 million. Like most of California, San Bernardino’s Hispanic population has also increased dramatically to 49.1 percent. In 2000, San Bernardino had 1.7 million residents; 39 percent were Hispanic. English language learners who depend on free and reduced price meals have overwhelmed the school district.

If there were ever an example of why an immigration reduction plan should be implemented, the San Bernardino children, many of whom sleep in cheap motels, are it. The children and their parents live in squalor, are dependent on public services and at best face uncertain futures.

San Bernardino isn’t the only California city struggling to survive. Importing more poverty through immigration at a time when California is awash in it is indefensible. Yet despite being surrounded by evidence that an immigration time-out is overdue, Brown and other federal and state leaders invariably call for more.

Please sign up here for free CAPS’ Action Alerts to keep informed of state and federal legislation that could increase already excessively high immigration levels.

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