By Joe Guzzardi
October 2, 2015
Two recently released reports about the state of the nation reveal troubling findings. The first, the Pew Research Center’s publication about population growth, was widely covered in the media. According to Pew, Census Bureau statistics and growth projections found that during the next five decades, immigration will fuel 88 percent of the United States’ population increase. Overall, the immigrant population will reach 78 million by 2065, compared with about 45 million today, and will grow at a rate double that of the US-born population.
The huge immigration increase is the inevitable outcome of the 1965 Immigration Act which has brought 59 million immigrants to America since its enactment. Other immigration policies over the last 50 years have encouraged more immigration, namely dozens of non-immigrant visa programs that enable overseas workers to come to the U.S. more readily. But during the Obama administration, an era in which the White House effectively ended most immigration law enforcement, fewer and fewer visa holders returned home. In its December 2014 publication, the Center for Migration Studies reported that 60 percent of new illegal immigrants entered legally on some type of visa, but stayed on after it expired. They blended into the American mainstream, secure that they wouldn’t be deported, and are now counted among the huge and growing immigrant population surge.
The Pew report triggered the predictable debate about whether large scale immigration is good for America. But the debate didn’t include the most important aspect of the argument—is immigration at its current level and as it’s projected to continue sustainable? For all the millions of words spoken and written about immigration in the last decade, too few have addressed sustainability.
To that end, consider the American Society for Civil Engineers report card on the nation’s roads, bridges, and infrastructure. Less widely distributed than the Pew study, the engineers’ report gave the United States a D+ on its infrastructure. One in nine of America’s bridges are structurally deficient; more than half the highways are congested and crumbling. Drinking water often comes out of pipes that are 100 years old. The capital cost of modernizing these facilities is massive. But to postpone upgrades means further deterioration. More immigration means more people using the infrastructure, and thereby accelerating its structural decline.
Beyond putting more pressure on the infrastructure, increased immigration adds to the labor pool, often displaces American workers, and creates more intense competition for the relatively few jobs the economy adds. In September, for example, the economy created only 142,000 jobs. Each legal immigrant is work-authorized. As a result, according to government data, since 2000 all of the net gain in the number of working-age (16 to 65) people holding a job has gone to legal and illegal immigrants even though native-born Americans accounted for two-thirds of the growth in the total working-age population. Eight million Americans are unemployed and about 94 million are detached from the work force
Despite irrefutable evidence that more immigration negatively impacts the American infrastructure and increases the supply of workers during a period of weak job growth, few in Congress are willing to engage in a discussion about immigration’s long-term consequences. Decisions about immigration are made in Congress or on the state level without, in most cases, a vote.
The time is overdue for Congress to come to grips with population growth’s reality, abandon political correctness, and put supportable immigration policies in place.
Joe Guzzardi is a Californians for Population Stabilization Senior Writing Fellow. Contact him at [email protected]