By Joseph Daleiden.

Joseph Daleiden is executive director of the Midwest Coalition for
Immigration Reform.

The Chicago Tribune
January 7, 1999

News article after news article on immigration characterizes anyone who
opposes the current level of immigration as anti-immigrant. This is
biased and deceitful. It's like saying that anyone who doesn't want 10
or 12 children is anti-children. The truth is that many people are
pro-immigration but recognize that the present level of immigration is
unsustainable and will eventually be detrimental to Americans and
immigrants alike.

One often-used irrelevant argument is that we are a nation of
immigrants. While true, it does not shed light on the question of how
many immigrants should be admitted annually and what should be the
criteria for admission. To understand the issue, we must focus on the
numbers involved. Although the Census Bureau has not released the
number of immigrants for fiscal 1997, most analysts believe that at
least 1 million legal and between 300,000 to 500,000 illegal immigrants
are entering the U.S. each year. This is about four times the number
who came to America annually during the 1950s and 1960s.

Even this does not put the issue in perspective, however. The crux of
the problem is the cumulative impact. At present rates of immigration,
the U.S. population will increase by up to 200 million persons in the
next 50 to 60 years. Even if all immigration were halted today--and few
persons are suggesting such a draconian policy--we will still add up to
80 million people due to the children and grandchildren from the wave
of immigrants that have entered the U.S. since 1970.

So what? Isn't this unending supply of cheap, compliant, hardworking
labor good for America? It is often said that America depends on
immigrants for its future prosperity. If this were true, then we are
indeed doomed as a nation, since it means that we are dependent on a
constantly growing population for economic success. Given the present
immigration trends, which will account for 70 to 80 percent of the
population growth in the next century, it is only a matter of time
before the population of the U.S. surpasses that of India and China.
Why would any nation want to implement such a disastrous policy?

The answer is that few Americans, especially politicians, look past the
next couple of years. It is sometimes suggested that if we find we are
overpopulated we can then cut back on immigration. But even if we
halted all immigration today, it would take at least 50 years before
U.S. population would level out. The reason is, of course, the
fertility rate of immigrants is far higher than that of native-born
Americans. It takes two to three generations before the rate drops to
about the national American average,

The argument that without immigration there will be nobody to do the
jobs that immigrants do is the same logic that was used to justify
slavery: "Without slaves, who will pick the cotton?" The answer, as any
economist knows, is that in a market economy wage rates will always
adjust to the level necessary to attract sufficient labor or stimulate
innovation to mechanize the jobs.

The persons most hurt by excessive immigration are low-skilled
Americans and future generations of immigrants. A recent study by the
National Academy of Sciences found that our immigration policy results
in a transfer of income from the poorest paid Americans to immigrants.
For example, as farm workers have painfully discovered, the constant
supply of legal and illegal immigrants has reduced their already meager
wages, after adjusting for inflation, by 20 to 30 percent since 1970.

In the long run, we will all pay the price. Taxpayers have to provide
schools, highways, water and sewage, police and fire, health care,
Social Security, etc. Of course immigrants pay taxes for these
services, but low-wage workers receive more in benefits than they pay
in taxes. Moreover, according to a U.S. General Accounting Office
study, immigrants are twice as likely to use welfare as Americans.

Providing education for the children of immigrants is especially
burdensome for the taxpayers. According to the Center for Immigration
Studies, Illinois will need to build a new school each month for the
foreseeable future to accommodate the growth in population driven by
immigration. Texas needs to build a school every week and California
has the impossible task of building a school every day.

Although poll after poll indicates that most American would like to see
immigration cut back to traditional levels (about 250,000 a year),
present immigration policy has been determined by a coalition of
businesses who benefit from a limitless supply of cheap labor,
immigration lawyers, immigrant lobbies and naive do-gooders who think
that bringing in 1 million of the world's 4 billion poor will somehow
reduce world poverty.

Americans, like most people, tend to live for the moment, with little
thought for the future. The hundreds of billions of dollars that are
being expended to correct the Y2K computer problem were totally
unnecessary with just a modicum of forethought. What can a nation do
when it discovers it is overpopulated? Ask China and India.

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