By Joe Guzzardi
November 16, 2017
Lately, President Trump has been talking a lot about chain migration, and the importance of ending it. The president promises that he will not sign a deferred action for childhood arrivals amnesty – or, for that matter, any other amnesty – that may reach his desk unless it has a provision to end chain migration.
Refresher course on chain migration: the endless chains of foreign nationals who immigrate to the United States because citizens and lawful permanent residents are allowed to sponsor their non-nuclear family members. Chain migration is the primary factor that has enabled legal immigration in the U.S. to quadruple from about 250,000 per year in the 1950s and 1960s to more than one million annually since 1990. Recent immigrants have petitioned an average of about 3.5 family members to join them.
The immigration-driven population growth has led to a record-breaking U.S. population, currently 326 million people, and exacerbated urban sprawl, traffic congestion, and school and hospital overcrowding that erodes Americans’ quality of life. According to the Census Bureau, one international migrant, net, arrives every 32 seconds which contributes to a net population increase of one person every 15 seconds.
For the many Americans who struggle to understand what increasing numbers may mean in their daily lives – another 30 million or so more each decade for the foreseeable future – consider two examples. Analyzing the Southeast transportation system, the Department of Transportation rated as in “poor condition” ten percent of federal roads, 46 percent of federal and state highways, and half of secondary roads not receiving federal funding. Assuming Georgia and Florida remain popular immigrant destinations, as they have been for years, more vehicles on those dilapidated roads means either more taxpayer dollars going toward highway repair or dramatically more unpleasant commutes.
In sparsely populated Wyoming, similar growth challenges exist. By 2040, Wyoming is expected to grow to 661,070, a significant increase from 2010’s 563,626. To be sure, Wyoming’ growth is modest compared to what neighboring states will endure between today and 2040: Colorado, at 5.5 million is expected to reach 8 million by 2040, and Utah, at 3.1 million is projected to reach 4.6 million. Still, Wyoming’s Laramie County schools are struggling with overcrowding, and the state has no money to construct new buildings. Students are taught in trailers, a poor learning environment. Overcrowding has also adversely affected the school bus system with some routes canceled.
Nationwide, the explosive growth means that every ten years 8,000 new schools must be built and paid for, 11.5 million new housing units must be constructed, and 23.6 million more vehicles will travel crumbling roads.
Getting back to President Trump’s goal to eliminate chain migration, he’s been condemned from both sides of the aisle, although more vociferously from the Democratic minority. But unsustainable population growth shouldn’t be a partisan issue and, for the nation’s well-being, Congress should get behind President Trump. Slower growth benefits all.