By Joe Guzzardi
March 8, 2016
A new Center for Immigration Studies report based on an analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data found that a record 61 million immigrants and their American-born children live in the United States, nearly one in every five residents. Among them are 15.7 million illegal immigrants, also at or near a historic high.
The staggering total is a result of several variables. In 1965, Congress passed the Immigration and Nationality Act, also known as the Hart-Cellar Act. At the time, immigration averaged 178,000 annually. The law gave preferences to family reunification, and started a trend toward what’s colloquially known as chain migration. The naturalization of a single immigrant opened the door to his or her brothers and sisters and their spouses, who in turn could sponsor their own brothers and sisters. As a result since 1965, 60 million immigrants have come.
A chart that accompanies the CIS report shows that in 1970, just a few years after President Lyndon Johnson signed the Immigration Act but before it had time to take effect, the U.S. foreign-born population was 13.5 million or 6.6 percent of the total; by 2015, the bill’s 50th anniversary, the current 61 million immigrants and their children represented 18.9 percent of the U.S. population. Between 1970 and 2015, immigrants and their children grew six times faster than the nation's total population, 353 percent versus 59 percent. Georgia, North Carolina, and Nevada reflected a 3,000 percent increase since 1970 in the immigrant and minor children population.
Since 2000, the immigration increases have been particularly high, 18.4 million. The spike can be explained by several federal policies that have encouraged more immigration and discouraged internal border and interior enforcement. Millions of employment-based visas in dozens of categories have been issued to foreign nationals, some of whom never return home. President Obama has ordered the Department of Homeland Security to release rather than detain aliens at the border. And for Central Americans, an open border policy has been in effect for at least five years. The high illegal alien population is the natural outcome of lax, if any, enforcement.
Then, there’s the auto-pilot one million new legal permanent residents admitted every year, a policy that no one is Congress challenges despite its obvious unsustainability. To the contrary, most legislation that Congress has considered would add dramatically to the immigrant population in the form of skilled and unskilled workers. The controversial and ultimately defeated 2013 Gang of Eight bill would have doubled the number of legal immigrants and tripled work visas despite the obvious negative consequences to American workers.
The CIS report comes on the heels of a similar Pew Research Center study which found that if current demographic patterns continue, immigration will between today and 2065 account for 88 percent of the U.S. population growth or 103 million people, as the nation grows to 441 million people.
The two reports pose a simple question that has an equally easy answer: Is the immigration pattern developed over the last half century sustainable? Response: no. Schools, roads, hospitals are already overcrowded. Western states, many immigrants’ destination, are parched, and jobs are hard to find. Poverty and welfare dependency is high. American interests and the sovereign nation’s survival are more important than pursuing a misguided welcome-the-world political agenda.
Joe Guzzardi is a Californians for Population Stabilization Senior Writing Fellow. Contact him at [email protected]