Foundation for Human Conservation

Immigration: A Noble Notion Gone Bad

  1. Introduction
  2. How Immigration Affects Life in America
  3. The Ideological Clash Over Immigration
  4. Little Noticed Immigration Programs
  5. American Businesses, Workers, and Trade Agreements
  6. A Proposed Solution to America's Mass Immigration Challenge

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I. Introduction

Towering in New York City’s harbor is the Statue of Liberty with those endearing words that beckon “Bring me your poor, your tired, your huddled masses yearning to be breathe free…” Almost every American can attest to a forebear who arrived on American shores anxious to grasp opportunity and start a new life. The ideal that “we are a nation of immigrants” is culturally ingrained and historically the nation has generously accepted those less fortunate from around the globe. From high altitude, this noble notion of immigration is inspirational, but when seen at ground level, it doesn’t look so good.

Obviously times and circumstances have dramatically changed over the last century. If the U.S. is to survive and thrive, it must come to grips with its burgeoning population, primarily driven by immigration. The shopworn assertion that immigration must continue for the economic and cultural benefit of the country is in serious question, if not totally in disrepute. Added to this quandary is the tragedy of September 11th, which dramatically changed the nature of this volatile debate for both legal and illegal entry into the country has now become a national security risk. Yes, this is a different time and place as the country settles into the 21st Century and it’s time to take a close look at the hard realities that make current immigration policies and practices obsolete.

The Challenge of Rapid Population Growth

When the Statue of Liberty was built in 1886 there were less than 65 million Americans.1 The generous immigration policy that ensued continues today irrespective of the fact that the nation’s head count is now almost five times greater. With a current population of 315 million (as of March 2013) there is serious overloading of the nation’s natural capacity to sustain future generations as previously discussed in “Population Primer.”

To get a bird’s eye view of our population challenge, consider this February 2008 statement from the Pew Research Center: “If current trends continue, the population of the United States will rise to 438 million in 2050…and 82% of the increase will be due to immigrants arriving between 2005 to 2050 and their U.S.-born descendants.”

While there has been a recent easing in the number of illegal migrants crossing the southern border, America has accepted over a million legal immigrants for each of the last five years.2 The U.S. overall birth rate shows early signs of declining, but we still add over 4 million births a year. When offsetting these births with deaths, there is an estimated net gain of 1.6 million in natural increase annually.3 The combination of natural increase with legal and illegal immigration adds an estimated 2.7 to 3 million residents yearly or 27-30 million people every decade to the census.

If Congress and the Administration fail to zip up the borders, moderate legal immigration, and support family planning in a big way, it looks as though America will reach the Pew Research Center’s projection of 438 million people by mid-century. Where to put these 123,000,000 people is the subject of “Population Primer.”

Immigration Reform in America

Most immigration polls taken over the last couple of decades consistently show that more than 60% of American citizens believe immigration levels are too high and immigration laws should be strictly enforced.4

There is less agreement, however, about what to do about law-abiding illegal immigrants who have been in the U.S. for several years. Most citizens are sympathetic to giving these immigrants and their children some form of legal status, but first they want illegal entry stopped at both land borders as well as at sea and airports. Once unauthorized entries are prohibited, serial amnesties, like we’ve had over the decades, won’t be necessary. Until this happens the U.S. is just rewarding illegal migrants with eventual citizenship and in so doing it will only inspire other prospective migrants to do the same thing.

Immigration Reform Spiked - Mike Keefe
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It’s hard to believe that members of Congress aren’t aware of the public attitudes on immigration, yet they continue to thwart the will of the people. A case in point is the Senate’s attempt to pass S.1348, “Comprehensive Immigration Reform,” in 2007. The major feature of this bill was to give an estimated 11 million undocumented aliens an opportunity to achieve legal status by coming out of the shadows and declaring themselves. Depending on the length of time in the U.S., and a clean criminal record, they would pay a fine and get a special visa, allowing them to stay and be eligible for citizenship sometime in the future. Like the general public, anti-mass immigration lobbyists first wanted the borders better secured with stepped up federal and local law enforcement before supporting any form of legalization. Prior to the vote on S.1348, they were successful in persuading thousands of Americans to join hands and pressure Congress on this point.

As a consequence, the majority leadership in the Senate retreated when their offices were deluged with calls, faxes, and letters from the citizenry objecting to legalization as proposed. In fact the deluge shut down the Congressional switchboard. The bill died in cloture.

In June of 2012, the Obama Administration, by virtue of an Executive Order, effectively granted temporary legal status to children of illegal immigrants, with certain qualifiers.5 The Department of Homeland security will no longer seek deportation of those youngsters, assuming they have no criminal record, graduated from high school or have obtained an equivalent degree or served in the military, have met specified age requirements, etc. If qualified, they can apply for a special two-year work permit that will grant them immunity from deportation. An estimated 800,000 children will benefit from this order.6 Critics have dubbed the program “backdoor amnesty,” as the Executive Order skirts Congressional approval.

So why does Congress, recent Administrations, plus many state authorities continue to persist in annually welcoming more than 1 million legal immigrants when the people are opposed to this fortuitous generosity, especially when unemployment remains high among the citizenry? Also, why do the authorities try to make life easier for illegal residents, enabling them to work and bank, get driver licenses, and access Medicaid and other social services? The answer to those questions and many more are indeed multifaceted and deeply entangled in special interests.

The Complex Reality of U.S. Immigration

To get a sense of the complexity of immigration, picture a mammoth onion with many layers to peel. The visible outer layer wraps around long-standing noble intentions of providing opportunity to those making it to our soil by offering jobs, governmental support to meet settlement needs, and the promise of bringing the rest of the family left behind. In return for this generosity, many Americans believe cultural diversity is enhanced, giving the nation greater creativity, productivity, and a unique character. But when this outer layer is stripped away, the ignoble side of immigration begins to emerge.

Underneath it all, exploitation reigns and it starts right in the migrant’s own back yard with faltering, if not failed, socio-economic policies that drive the more industrious people to take a courageous gamble and leave their homeland. Regrettably, “sending” countries like El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico get a double benefit from being indifferent to their peoples’ plight. These governments know that the outward flow helps relieve societal pressures for major internal reforms and at the same time money being sent back home to support family members provides a steady revenue stream, sustaining otherwise crippled and failed economies that cause the exodus in the first place.

Once migrants are on their arduous journey to the U.S., international “coyotes,” and drug cartels prey upon their desperation, shaking them down for every last cent for the promise of getting them into poorly secured ports or across porous borders.

If they safely arrive, they come face to face with more manipulative forces: employers who want cheap and compliant labor, wealthy households doing the same, labor contractors who are quick to sell them out to unscrupulous employers, immigration lawyers that make a living off their troubles, non-governmental organizations that allegedly champion their rights, but use them in furthering other broader socio-political agendas. And not to mention, of course, the major political parties that pander to migrants with hope that the immigrant community will reward them at the polls.

Yes, immigration in America has lost its altruistic luster. Maybe that’s the way it has been historically, but immigration today is different in many ways. The nobility of yesteryear has been abandoned and in the process both legal and illegal migrants have become both willing participants and unwitting pawns in a high stakes money and power game. In the pages that follow, layers of the metaphoric onion will be peeled away, allowing a hard look at what contemporary migration into the U.S. means in the context of a recovering economy, a growing national population crisis, and ever-present fears of homeland terrorism.

II. How Immigration Affects Life in America

National Security

In the 21st Century there are few greater national security lapses than the poorly guarded borders of the United States. In response to the al-Qaida terrorist attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, President Bush first launched a penetrating attack on Afghanistan to punish the Taliban and then destroy their capability to launch future terrorism. Many months later a broad scale invasion of Iraq was initiated based on the belief that it had weapons of mass destruction. President Bush’s dubious terrorism strategy can be summed up as: It’s better to fight them over there, than here.

In this far-off war, hundreds of billions in treasury dollars were expended with thousands killed and wounded in the name of making the nation safe at home. Yet, homeports and land borders were left largely unprotected. Any ground general worth his stars will tell his troops that perimeters are the first line of defense and are critical to protecting held territory. Strangely enough, there were no cries from Congress or the Administration, let alone the Defense Department, to immediately seal the porous borders from infiltration.

No hablo ingles - Terry Wise
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In June 2000, The National Commission on Terrorism warned that, “The massive flows of people across U.S. borders make exclusion of all foreign terrorists impossible.”7

Later this point was reinforced in a New York Times article written by Douglas Jehl. Commenting on the Congressional hearing held on February 16, 2005, he wrote “New intelligence information strongly suggests that al-Qaida has considered infiltrating the United States through the Mexican border, top government officials told Congress on Wednesday.” Specifically, the testimony of CIA and FBI Directors was highlighted with a warning to Congress that al-Qaida was seeking to use weapons of mass destruction and would probably bring them into the country via Mexico. Targets would be dams, water treatment and nuclear plants, chemical facilities, oil refineries and transportation systems, especially those located near large population centers.

Irrespective of these forewarnings, subsequent Administrations and Congress have dragged their feet on enacting serious border remedies. Paradoxically, the U.S. has spent about one trillion dollars in the last ten years to protect our interests in far way places like Afghanistan and Iraq. But when it comes to zipping up borders to stop illegal entry, the smuggling of humans, drugs and contraband, along with protecting critical infrastructure, both Congress and the Administrations have been parsimonious.

While border patrol numbers have been periodically beefed up due to public pressure, the federal government has failed to make the kind of broad scale effort that would effectively manage the borders. Due to years of inadequate manpower and Congressional indecision, the border patrol now needs major support to clean up dangerous trafficking corridors. Here are the fixes needed on the U.S.-Mexican border: 1) a sufficiently sized, well-armed military to penetrate and take back smuggling corridors, 2) a ground sensor system to detect night intrusions and tunneling, 3) air assets that can trace and interdict small aircraft while providing the latest reconnaissance capabilities, and most of all 4), a continuous double fence along the 2,000-mile southern border to stop the illicit flow of people, contraband, and drugs. Of course this will be expensive, but it’s cheaper than losing thousands of lives and key infrastructure to infiltrated terrorists, not to mention the cost of combating cross border criminality.

One has to conclude that despite well-articulated homeland security concerns by citizens and the media, immigration politics gets in the way of common sense defenses, making it almost impossible to protect the nation from being demographically overrun, as well as being victimized by smugglers, drug cartels and future terrorist attacks.


Presidents, political parties, and elected representatives want to be re-elected and stay in power as long as possible. This is axiomatic, of course, but what many Americans fail to realize is that those immigrants among us who don’t have voting rights can actually help politicians get elected. Here’s how it works.

When the U.S. Census Bureau does its head count at the beginning of each decade, all residents regardless of legal status are included (if they are willing to be found). Apportionment of U.S. House of Representative seats is based on state populations as officially determined by the Census Bureau.

When immigrants enter and spread out among states they inadvertently add highly desired political power by virtue of their presence. If a state, like California for example, is sufficiently attractive to aggregate the right number of newcomers, the census goes up and so does the number of House seats apportioned. For instance, in the 2000 apportionment California gained a surprising total of six seats based on rapid population growth. And those states whose census gains were minimal or none at all ended up losing representation.

In a more current example, the 2010 U.S. Census resulted in a shift in apportionment of House seats as follows: Texas gained 4, Florida 2, and the states of Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, South Carolina, Utah, and Washington one each. Conversely, New York, and Ohio lost two seats each, while Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey and Pennsylvania lost one. All other states, including California, maintained their count.

Another important part of this political calculus is the Electoral College, which is made up of 538 electors. The number of electors is derived from the nation’s 435 Representatives, 100 Senators, and 3 electors allocated to the District of Columbia. Therefore, states with the highest numbers play a determinant role in who occupies the White House.

Immigration reform. Illegal Aliens Must be Prosecuted! - Ed Fischer
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It’s no surprise that politicians, major political parties, along with pro-immigrant groups do their best to be “immigrant friendly,” influencing and manipulating the flow of immigrants as best as possible for significant political gain. As mentioned, concentrating immigrants in certain districts and states can make the difference as to how powerful a state will be on the national front, how much political muscle a House member might have, and who might be the next President. Is it any wonder that a politician is loath to tamper with the immigration system in any meaningful way when a reduction or shift in numbers might eliminate his or her job?

There is another compounding factor as well and that is campaign funding. It’s obvious that campaign coffers benefit when they serve the special interests of business and other groups, which want cheap foreign labor as previously mentioned.

Needless to say, Congress will continue to struggle with immigration reform as it takes a lot of courage and conviction to just say “no” to more newcomers when re-elections could be at risk. But for now Congress is too compromised and paralyzed by ideology, corporate interests, campaign financing, and needed votes from growing minorities to do anything significant about real immigration reform.

There is another dimension to this whole conundrum as well: Can a nation that does not control its borders, coupled with an overly generous immigration policy, lose its sovereignty and identity over time? The answer to that question is found in the next section, “National Identity and Cultural Adhesion.”

National Identity and Cultural Adhesion

As millions pour into America from all parts of the planet, the nation’s mix of race and ethnicity is changing over time. How will this wave of different cultures change the national character, and can the nation maintain a coherent identity? With the population growing larger by the year, will the sheer mass of people cause residents to slowly transition from a national allegiance to a more parochial or regional identity where they can relate to familiar customs, traditions, and values? Or pushing it to the extreme, will segments of the population coalesce with their own kind, eschewing loyalty to the U.S. and the Constitution and form localities loyal to another country?

Having experienced mass immigration for several decades, the nation is faced with major cultural challenges. A case in point is Los Angeles, California, which many describe as being “Mexicanized,” resulting in split national loyalties and a growing cultural divide between a diminishing historical Anglo base and a proliferate Hispanic community.8 This type of situation is occurring throughout the country’s major metropolitan centers with implicit governmental support. Apparently government officials at all levels presume that immigrants no matter their ethnicity or race will buy into American ideals and that will be enough to assure unity. But is that realistic?

Experts on developing national cohesion highly recommend certain societal glue, that is to say a common language and a requirement that immigrants assimilate by pledging allegiance to the U.S. and becoming citizens. Yet, the very government seeking unity is undermining the goal by requiring federal agencies and contractors to have readily available interpreters to help those who have “limited English proficiency” (LEP).

For instance, President Clinton issued Executive Order 13166 in August 2000 that set forth “the compliance standards that recipients of federal financial assistance must follow to ensure that their programs and activities normally provided in English are accessible to LEP persons and thus do not discriminate on the basis of national origin in violation of Title VI's prohibition against national origin discrimination.”9

The rippling effect of this order is pervasive and costly. In order to comply, doctors, hospitals, and other medical providers have to provide interpreters at their own expense, adding an estimated $268 million to the nation’s health care costs.10

What is even more confounding is that “E.O.13166 actually makes America officially multilingual. It does this by making a person’s choice of language a protected civil right.”11

One has to ask, if a newcomer doesn’t speak or doesn’t want to speak the prevailing language well enough to communicate effectively, can effective assimilation be possible? And what does ineffective communication do to unity and common purpose? “If assimilation fails,” writes Samuel P. Huntington in The Clash of Civilizations, “the United States will become a cleft country with all the potentials for internal strife and disunion that entails.” As it pertains to instituting multiculturalism, Pat Buchanan pointedly asks in his book “Death of the West,” “Is that risk worth taking? And “Why are we taking it?”

Clearly the long-held ideal of a “melting pot” of peoples bonded by a single unifying language and loyalty to America has gone by the wayside. No longer are immigrants expected to be fluent in the native language and/or to forfeit fidelity to their former homeland. This elemental shift in expectations raises concerns as to what will hold the nation together in the future. If not language and loyalty, what will replace these elements of cultural adhesion?

National Size and Governance

Has the United States become too big to be an effective modern day democracy? That’s a backroom question that’s beginning to get some upfront attention, especially as a result of recent monumental bureaucratic blunders. With the failure of intelligence agencies to prevent the terrorist attacks of September 11th and the misinformation provided to justify the Iraq War, the ineptitude displayed by all levels of government in the handling of hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the BP Gulf oil disaster, plus the recent near collapse of the global financial system stemming from failure to properly regulate banking and Wall Street, one has to be skeptical that big democracies are workable regardless of who is President or which party controls Congress.

Many would attribute these failures more to inept bureaucracy than to scale. Still there are lessons from many failed corporations that exceeded a manageable organizational size. Records of business bankruptcies are replete with companies that grew themselves into oblivion or became wounded take-over targets. The same threat holds true for nations, particularly democracies, which are administratively messy to begin with and then become even more so, as an enlarging electorate breaks up into factions and engorged bureaucracies becomes deeply entrenched and corrupted. This is not to mention, of course, that as the two entrenched political parties grow in size, party members become more loyal to their own ideology and goals than to what is in the best interest of the nation.

A good example of a struggling democracy is India, which is performing a delicate balancing act, as it aspires to become an Asian economic power. With a current population of 1.3 billion, it is expected to balloon to 1.7 billion by mid-century, while coping with food security, an ever-growing shortage of natural resources and life-threatening environmental pollution.12 Over the last fifty years, India has tried to implement population policies to restrain growth with some regional successes, but not enough to slow down population momentum built up from historical high birth rates. Despite this overwhelming problem, India has started to improve the national economy with uneven results.

The standard of living for a sliver of India’s middle class has improved dramatically, while a sizeable and growing lower class remains mired in poverty. The government is under considerable pressure to clean up the water, improve sanitation, and provide more food for all. Meeting these expectations in a world of shrinking resources has and will be no small task. As of now, the verdict is out as to whether a vibrant economy can ever be obtained when a nation is being crushed by an overload of humanity. But that’s not all. India is locked into an entrenched caste system that is reluctant to grant the right to do better for the down trodden, along with a national government seriously hampered by factional in-fighting at the state level that thwarts progress. Only time will tell if India can work its way out of a cultural and political morass.

Conversely, America has already gained premier global economic and military status with one-fourth the population size, so why get bigger and make the problems worse like India’s? Clearly adding girth by virtue of immigration is not a good idea. Needless to say, America can learn some wise lessons from India and keep within its natural means and limitations. The section on “Demographic Economics” covers this subject in more detail.

III. The Ideological Clash Over Immigration

Behind the scenes in the political struggle over border security is a mega ideological war being fought by two powerful forces that have opposing beliefs on how land borders should be managed. Considering the cast of influential organizations involved, it seems strange that the long-time conflict has escaped major media attention and in-depth analysis by independent journalists. The purpose of this section is to bring forth the combatants and to penetrate the issues and positions held.

On one side is the “Open Borders Lobby” which strives for a free, two-way flow of migrants over both borders, while protecting their human rights in the name of social justice. In opposition is the “Immigration Reductionists,” (or Restrictionists as they are sometimes called) who believe, as the name implies, that a substantial decrease in the number of immigrants coupled with strong enforcement of existing immigration laws are in the best interests of the nation.

While this brief description of combatants tends to be over simplified, it provides a practical framework to dig into a substratum of colliding interests, economic pragmatism, and tolerated criminal activity on the southern border.

The Open Boarders Lobby

The general focus of the Open Boarders Lobby (OBL) is on the following goals:

Fair treatment for both legal and illegal immigrants in obtaining housing, an education, and adequate food, as well as obtaining legal and medical assistance as needed

Protecting the civil liberties of illegal aliens (e.g. opposing fingerprinting, social security checking, and tracking systems in general)

Minimizing employer sanctions for hiring illegal immigrants

Assuring rights in deportation proceedings

Creating enabling legislation to provide driver’s licenses for illegal aliens, voting rights and the granting of out of state college tuition waivers for their children

Promoting amnesty for all illegal newcomers

Lobbying to expedite “chain migration”

Any attempt to impose numerical limitations on immigration quotas and visas

To get a better idea of the cast of characters and what they stand for, a good starting point is William Hawkins and Erin Anderson’s booklet titled “Open Borders Lobby and the Nation’s Security after 9/11.” The authors provocatively describe those on this side of the fence as follows:

The concept of “open borders” has long been an agenda of the ideological left. Since the 1960s, a vast network including hundreds of organizations and tens of thousands of grassroots activists, backed by hundreds of millions of dollars from left wing foundations has waged a sustained campaign to open America’s borders to a mass migration from the Third World. Though these groups talk in terms of “human rights,” the rights they demand are not restrictions on government enshrined in the American Bill of Rights, but the claims on society for “equity” and “welfare” and special treatment for designated groups that are the familiar menu of the left and would, if enacted, amount to a revolution in America’s existing social order.

The “open borders” movement emerged from the radicalism of the 1960s and matured in the fight over amnesty for illegal aliens in the 1980s. It gained a certain mainstream status in the 1990s as the “globalization” and “multilateralism” fads of the decade encouraged talk of a “world without borders” and the decline (even the demise) of the nation-state. At the center of the movement was the Ford Foundation, the largest tax-exempt foundation in the world, and one increasingly guided by the political left.13

The authors go on to identify more than sixty-five like-minded organizations that have either been created or have been substantially supported in their missions by the Ford Foundation. For example, some familiar names often championing immigrant rights or entitlements are the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Mexican-American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF), National Council of La Raza, and the Southern Poverty Law Center among others.14

This vast network of endowed foundations and splinter groups, along with frequent involvement of the federal government, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and certain members of Congress, constitute the OBL.

Underpinning these pursuits is the fundamental belief that any person stepping onto U.S. soil should have the same rights as a citizen. Some of these organizations would champion voting rights for migrants as well, arguing that they work and pay taxes here, so why can’t they vote?

To presume citizenship rights and entitlements for the undocumented or anyone not “naturalized” does not settle well with the American public, as polls have suggested, nor would such a premise be acceptable to the Immigration Reductionists.

The Immigration Reductionists

In this highly charged socio-political scene, how do Immigration Reductionists (IRs) fit in? According to Wikipedia, “Immigration reduction refers to movements active within the United States and elsewhere that advocate a reduction in the amount of immigration allowed into the United States or other countries. This can include a reduction in the numbers of legal immigrants, advocating for the stronger action to be taken to prevent illegal immigrants from entering the country, and reduction in non-immigrant temporary work visas (such as L-1 in the United States)…“Reductionists” see immigration as being the source of most social, economic, and environmental problems and wish to cut current immigration levels by 75% or more.”15

While significantly reducing immigration numbers and preventing illegal entry are overarching goals for the IRs, there are more specific objectives:

Beefing up border security with ever-advancing technology and military backup

Improving enforcement of current immigration laws, which includes more well-trained members of the Border Patrol, more detention facilities, criminal prosecution including timely deportation, employer penalties and sanctions for illegal hiring

Protection of American wages from unfair imported labor

Making sure asylum laws are enforced and not watered down for political expediency

Stopping amnesties and mass guest-worker programs, which history has shown to be failures and have proven to encourage more illegal entry, not less

Pressing Congress to declare a moratorium on all immigration, giving the nation time to thoughtfully debate and fashion a more realistic national policy

The major players in the immigration reductionist movement are: The Center for Immigration Studies, The Federation for American Immigration Reform, Negative Population Growth, and NumbersUSA. However, this side of the debate is comprised of more than 20 organizations that are concerned with law enforcement, job creation, environmental sustainability, and social welfare issues.16

Comparing Positions of the OBL and the IR

When comparing the agendas of the two movements, they couldn’t be more different. There is little for the two sides to agree upon other than to humanely treat apprehended illegal migrants. It doesn’t take much imagination to see why enmity deeply pervades the ideological clash, as the combatants try to influence the nation to take countervailing directions.

Emotions are strong in this struggle because the stakes are high. To get a feel for the animosity between movements and their leaders, a good place to start is with the article entitled “Immigration and the SPLC: How the Southern Poverty Law Center Invented a Smear, Served La Raza, Manipulated the Press, and Duped its Donors.”17 To get a feel for the opposing viewpoint read “The Nativist Lobby: Three Faces of Intolerance.”18 After reading these articles where one side or the other questions fund raising ethics, impugns the character of opponents, deems the opposition a “hate group”, and uses such inflammatory adjectives like “racist and xenophobic” to describe movement leaders, you know there is real heat in this battle.

Immigration Bill - Sandy Huffaker
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The positions of the OBL are usually well supported by the Democratic Party, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and the Catholic Church, all of which have strong financial supporters with political influence. Align them with the combined treasury of the Ford Foundation and 65 allied organizations, including Billionaire George Soros’ Open Society Institute and you have a formidable network.

When it comes to money and breadth of allies, it’s pretty clear that the IRs are out-gunned and out-manned. Certainly they have their own substantial donors with political clout, but they are no match for the OBL’s largesse. Surprisingly though, the Immigration Reductionists have been able to checkmate the OBL agenda. And one has to ask: why are they able to do it?

Drawing upon the defeat of “Comprehensive Immigration Reform” in 2007, it is the writer’s opinion that OBL is counting on membership support to drive an immigrant-centered agenda. When critical legislation appears before Congress, this strongly financed lobby can count on tens of thousands of people from the network to rally behind their positions, whereas, the IRs with their techno-finesse have the capability of drawing upon hundreds of thousands to pressure Congress because their arguments resonate well with the interests of the American public. In other words, the Immigration Reductionists have a broader electorate to energize, fueled by a growing backlash towards mass immigration, especially in these tough economic times. Simply put, when it came to immigration reform in 2007, the interests of a broader constituency won out over a powerful special interest lobby.

Obviously this struggle will go on indefinitely, as the country sorts out the immigration conundrum. Perhaps the best way to conclude this section is to keep in mind the challenges made to the pro-immigration movement by Mr. Tom Barry, Co-Founder and Policy Director for the International Relations Center.

To borrow his thoughts from two recent articles and one written in August 2005, the immigration issue is more than just immigrant rights, border security or meeting the needs of business.19 Certainly these issues are important, but they have to be viewed in a broader socio-economic context. That is, the necessity of preserving middle and lower class American values, the peoples’ right to full employment, a livable wage, opportunity to advance in class, affordable health care, and a healthy environment.

Further, any effort in reforming immigration in the United States has to be done in concert with an enlightened foreign policy that helps hemispheric neighbors improve their economies and protect their natural resources, thereby removing the incentive for the mass movement of peoples. The U.S. has to be sure as well that trade agreements don’t undermine the livelihoods of neighbors by putting their agricultural and industrial sectors out of work in the name of ruthless competition. Putting it more directly, it is not in the U.S. interests to have dispossessed neighbors flooding over its borders in pursuit of a better economic opportunity. By helping neighboring nations remedy their economic problems, people can stay in place and have a better life closer to their roots.

Adding to Mr. Berry’s challenges is another he did not mention. There must be the recognition and support of the foundational principle that America’s population must be in balance with the land’s natural capacity to sustain both human life and other species. Overloading the land with people, no matter where they come from denigrates the quality of life in America and in turn lessens the opportunity for newcomers and their families.

To pivot off of Mr. Berry’s admonition about supportive relations with neighboring nations, there is no better example than the synergy between Mexico and the U.S. One poignant indicator of a healthy relationship between economies is the trans-border flow of people and commercial goods. According to the U.S. State Department there are “over 1.25 billion dollars worth of two-way trade and roughly one million legal border crossings each day.”20 Those are hugely significant numbers and reflect the management challenge for both nations. Complicating matters even further is the illegal flow of people, drugs and contraband, which mostly flows north.

While illegal trans-border traffic has been a problem for many decades, both nations have tolerated it for a variety of pragmatic reasons. And that holds true for both legal and illegal immigration as well. As reflected by the daily trade flow previously mentioned, legitimate trade between the U.S. and Mexico is critically important to both economies and neither party wants to do anything to jeopardize it. And therein lies a story worth examining.

Mexico and the U.S. Border Immigration Challenge

Let’s begin with a few basic statistics about the Mexico-U.S. immigration challenge. First, over the last ten years (2001-2010) more Mexicans have obtained Legal Permanent Resident status in America than any other nation on the planet. And also according to the Pew Research Center, there were 11.2 million unauthorized immigrants as of March 2010 living in the United States, with the largest group being Mexicans representing 58% of the total or nearly 6.5 million.21

From the U.S. State Department’s fact sheet pertaining to “Relations with Mexico” dated June 25, 2012, below are some excerpts that describe the close ties between the two nations:

The two countries share a 2,000-mile border, and relations between the two have a direct impact on the lives and livelihoods of millions of Americans – whether the issue is trade and economic reform, homeland security, drug control, migration, or the environment.

The scope of U.S.-Mexican relations is broad and goes beyond diplomatic and official contacts. It entails extensive commercial, cultural, and educational ties…

Mexico is the United States’ second-largest export market (after Canada) and third-largest trading partner (after Canada and China). Mexico's exports rely heavily on supplying the U.S. market, but the country has also sought to diversify its export destinations. Nearly 80 percent of Mexico’s exports in 2011 went to the United States. In 2011, Mexico was the second-largest supplier of oil to the United States. Top U.S. exports to Mexico include mechanical machinery, electronic equipment, motor vehicle parts, mineral fuels and oils, and plastics.

Mexican investment in the United States has grown by over 35 percent the past five years. It is the seventh fastest growing investor country in the United States.

In looking at these facts, it’s fair to say that the U.S. and Mexico are inextricably linked and economically interdependent. The key question is how does this connectivity affect immigration? Obviously, should the U.S. want to better control illegal entry, it need not look further than the southern border. As far as legal immigration is concerned, the data show that Mexicans are getting more than their fair share of American visas.

From the Mexican perspective, migration to America is working well and they want to keep it that way. So why does the Mexican government foster movement north by its people instead of recoiling in shame that so many of its people have to leave the country in pursuit of a better life? The answer rests in socio-economic pragmatism as will be seen in the stark realities of Mexican life that follows.

“Nearly half the population of Mexico lives in poverty. The number of Mexicans living in poverty is greater than the entire population of Columbia. The lack of economic opportunities, specifically decent jobs for poor Mexicans, is major source of pressure for migration.”22 According to this U.S. Embassy report, over 50 million people don’t make a livable wage and must be supported by social welfare programs that cost the Mexican government.

As mentioned previously in “Population Primer,” Mexico is overpopulated, especially with poor, low-skilled agricultural workers. Many of whom just wanted to stay on small family farms, hoping to eke out a living growing corn as did their predecessors. With the advent of NAFTA in 1994 Mexico decided to boost horticulture production (fruits, vegetables and flowers, etc.) while swiftly mechanizing corn farming, resulting in the displacement of over 600,000 subsidence farm workers. Also, the importation of cheaper U.S. corn by virtue of the trade agreement didn’t help the little guy either.23

With little or no education or government re-training programs for the displaced farmers, switching jobs wasn’t much of an option, but neither was staying put. And of course the rest is history. The flow north to find work in America for hundreds of thousands was the only viable alternative. In effect this movement has enabled Mexico to rapidly transform from a once agrarian state to an emerging industrial power. Whether originally intended, there’s also another advantage to the migration north.

Returning again to the U.S. State Department’s fact sheet, we learn that “Mexico is a major recipient of remittances, sent mostly from Mexicans in the United States. Remittances are a major source of foreign currency, totaling over $22.73 billion in 2011. Most remittances are used for immediate consumption – food, housing, health care, education – but some collective remittances, sent from Mexican migrants in the U.S. to their community of origin, are used for shared projects and infrastructure improvements under Mexico’s “3x1 Program For Migrants of the Government of Mexico” that matches contributions with federal, state and local funds.”24 In other words almost $23 billion in migrant wages flows back to Mexico, failing to give a boost to the U.S. economy.

In 2006, remittances from both legal and illegal immigrants in the United States ranked third in income to Mexico, behind oil and maquiladoras (manufacturing).25 It is uncertain whether this ranking changed much due to the recent recessions in both countries. However, the current figures provided by the State Department suggest that the relative positions of these key revenue streams remain the same.

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Obviously immigration to the United States is a clear winner for the Mexican government: there is work for an impoverished citizenry, migration reduces the cost of supporting those unemployed who might have stayed put, and remittances from those that did leave are a valuable source of income to the Mexican economy. Thus, losing the poor to the north makes shameless socio-economic sense. Conversely, what does the U.S. get out of this arrangement? It depends upon one’s perspective.

Certainly trade with Mexico is big business. In the year 2011, the U.S. sold $198 billion in goods to Mexico. This means large corporations along with small and medium size firms substantially benefited from selling goods to our southern neighbor. On the other hand Mexico benefited even more; their companies sold $263 billion worth of goods to the U.S. Over the last five years, the U.S. has run an annual trade deficit with Mexico, which has ranged from a low of $48 billion in 2009 to a high of $75 billion in 2007. Incidentally, in 1995 the full year following the implementation of NAFTA, the trade deficit with Mexico was only $16 billion. Based on 2012 data, the U.S. should continue to experience a negative trade balance of about $68 billion annually.26

In looking at the big picture, NAFTA has been important to both nations, but Mexico has garnered far more than its neighbor in terms of trade dollars.

It can hardly be argued that being lax with border control and granting visa status to Mexicans has paid off in a favorable trade balance. Absent trade as a redeeming factor, what else compels the U.S. to welcome a sizeable trade deficit, while taking on another nation’s poor? Maybe there is financial benefit from admitting the displaced from Mexico?

While there appears to be no specific research on what Mexicans bring to the financial table, there are various studies on the cost of mass immigration to America. For example, after combing through the programming of 15 federal departments, one research analyst estimated that both legal and illegal immigration costs the American taxpayers $364 billion annually, after income taxes paid by migrants.27 In August 2012, The Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) released a report, titled “Immigrants in the United States.” Below are some of the findings, which suggest a heavy financial drain on both state and federal coffers:

In 2010, 23 percent of immigrants and their U.S.-born children (under 18) lived in poverty, compared to 13.5 percent of natives and their children. Immigrants and their children accounted for one-fourth of all persons in poverty.

The children of immigrants account for one-third of all children in poverty.

In 2010, 36 percent of immigrant-headed households used at least one major welfare program (primarily food assistance and Medicaid) compared to 23 percent of native households.

The poverty rate of adult immigrants who have lived in the United States for 20 years is 50 percent higher than that of adult natives.

In 2010, 29 percent of immigrants and their U.S.-born children (under 18) lacked health insurance, compared to 13.8 percent of natives and their children.

New immigrants and their U.S.-born children account for two-thirds of the increase in the uninsured since 2000.

The share of households headed by an immigrant who has lived in the United States for 20 years using one or more welfare programs is nearly twice that of native-headed households.

While no dollars were assigned to the above statistics, it doesn’t take much imagination to realize that both state and federal budgets are burdened with these immigrant costs. But teasing them out is difficult, as they are buried in the labyrinth of aggregated bureaucratic data. One gets the impression that, should the real costs be exposed to the American public, the electorate would turn against those in power.

Unfortunately, there is no federal agency charged with either developing a fiscal impact statement or periodically accounting for the cost of immigration at any level of government in the country. Consequently, in America, immigration policy is made in the absence of national cost data or any up-to-date authoritative studies reflecting all program expenses. In essence both the Administration and Congress are dealing in the dark when it comes to this crucial issue, preferring to let ideology drive legislation.

For now, Mexico’s migration and trade strategies are working well for them, but not for the U.S. On the other hand, our intractable drug problem is costing lives and treasury for Mexico. For decades it has been an unwitting conduit for a variety of drugs flowing to America. From huge profits the Mexican drug cartels have built well-armed militias that can (so far) effectively fend off the Mexican government’s full-scale military/police attempts to eradicate them. According to Mexico’s Attorney General, over 48,000 Mexican innocent bystanders have been killed, not to mention the loss of life and the millions of pesos spent on the standoff.

No doubt Mexico feels we owe them for trying to eliminate the feed to our drug users. And maybe we do…but to what extent and for how long? Unmistakably, at some point the trans-border situation will become so intolerable for one side or the other, a workable solution might come about. Until then, the U.S continues to stumble with band-aid solutions, hoping the problem will go away.

Bottom line: It’s pretty clear that an overpopulated Mexico, which is transitioning from an agrarian society to a modern industrial state, has found it’s an effective migration strategy to shift its overload to America. And the U.S., which is overpopulated as well, is so far helpless to stop it.

Past Administrations and Congress have deluded themselves into believing that cheap labor from the south is good for American businesses. And the more liberal elements of our society have prevailed in persuading our political leadership that the U.S. has a moral obligation to take in the world’s dispossessed no matter the cost to our citizenry. Until the politics and the economics get sorted out on a rational basis, the uncontrolled entry of migrants and high levels of legal immigration will continue indefinitely.

The Role of the Church

Not surprising, churches in America are also engaged in this war over open borders, most tending not to line-up on one ideological side or the other, carefully walking the middle ground. As a result, there is no collective Christian position on the myriad of immigration issues, other than to follow the elemental principle that being an undocumented has no affect on a person’s status with God.

The reason for bringing churches into the discussion is that they lend moral authority to this passionate debate and often have the political clout to make a significant difference. To be sure they are definitely weighing in on the immigration conundrum, but are taking more religiously nuanced positions that differ from the major players previously discussed.

Among the long established Christian denominations in America, these are the common threads inherent in their positions on immigration debate:

  1. The treatment of illegal immigrants is biblically grounded and formed around the Christian-Judeo principal of caring for the “least among us.”
  2. Under Biblical authority, churches are justified in rendering care to the undocumented irrespective of secular laws to the contrary.
  3. Churches struggle to uphold secular laws while continuing to serve the “unauthorized” who have been foisted upon them due to poor border security and lax enforcement of immigration laws.

The reader is encouraged to read about The Catholic Church, The Church of the Latter Day Saints, and The Southern Baptist Convention for a sampling of stances taken on immigration issues.

When one takes a close look at these three key congregations, it’s clear that they too are victims of circumstance. Had the federal government done its job of better managing the southern border and strongly enforcing immigration laws in the first place, the churches would not have been placed in such an awkward position when helping unauthorized immigrants. Since the problem has been foisted on them, American churches are dealing with the undocumented in a way that toggles between Christian principles of compassion and human dignity, and staying within the confines of secular law. If need be, however, they are not above defying the government and doing what scripture dictates is morally right.

The hierarchies of the various Churches are stuck with a delicate econo-political issue. Wanting or having to support undocumented immigrants based on scriptural imperatives means diverting limited resources and energy from the self-interests of the congregation to the sizeable needs of immigrant families. This is an untenable position, for it is questionable that congregations can maintain such a duality of effort over time without some kind of financial relief from the state or federal governments. Whether they get funding or not, the mighty forces of the Christian Church can still play a powerful role in resolving some of the hemispheric problems that have created the flight to America.

Since church memberships span the Americas, they are in a position to press neighboring governments to strengthen their economies, reduce income inequality, improve education and training, and encourage the repair of faulty trade agreements. The objective of course is to encourage development at home, whereby people stay in place, and those that left might see reasons to return to the homeland, taking advantage of new opportunities.

In the U.S. economic recovery, many jobs are being eliminated by automation and intelligent robotics, so low-skilled work for both natives and newcomers will become harder to find with each passing year. In addition, those without green cards may get arrested as a result of a crackdown by the Department of Homeland Security on employers who hire undocumented workers. Families are often broken up when the primary breadwinners are placed under arrest, jailed, and deported. Churches have and will continue to play a valuable role in helping families with food, temporary housing, and keeping children together while justice takes its course.

As jobs become scarcer, many migrants may eventually decide to self-deport. The Churches can assist them by raising funds and arranging transportation. This would be a compassionate service to the millions living outside the law and will help America take some beginning steps in addressing its over-supply of labor.

No doubt the church congregations can be supporting players in resolving the immigration problem and a humane voice to be heard. But for certain denominations to ascribe citizen-like rights to those who have trespassed on America’s sovereignty and then champion their cause is frankly absurd. If Americans behaved the same way in other countries, they’d be incarcerated and forgotten. None would be allowed to march in the streets waving a foreign flag and demanding the right to stay with anointed citizenship. Churches have to be careful not to let emotionally charged compassion overwhelm common sense and respect for the rule of law.

Certainly the Administration and Congress own the immigration problem through long-time mismanagement of the borders and implicit support of importing cheap labor, but the churches shouldn’t become unwitting co-conspirators. The sooner the borders are secured, tracking systems are put in place and all immigration laws are enforced, the better off all will be.

IV. Little Noticed Immigration Programs

Immigration programs that have serious impacts on the economy, employment, and population growth get surprising little media attention. What follows is a brief description of four of them, operating under the radar of public scrutiny.

Chain Migration

Most Americans are unaware that our immigration policy and laws are crafted to allow for an endless march of foreign family members to this nation. That is to say, in 1965 Congress passed family reunification legislation that enables and grants a civil right to legal immigrants to sponsor their relatives. Not only can the spouse and children of any age come to the United States, but also parents, brothers, and sisters. Once legally admitted, they in turn can sponsor their left-behind-relatives with the cycle going on endlessly, thus the term chain migration.

Why this phenomenon has escaped serious media attention is a mystery, as the exponential effect is staggering. For example, in just five years after the passage of the legislation, chain migration nearly doubled to 79,213 in 1970. That pales in comparison to 2011 when 688,089 immediate relatives were admitted. Ensconced legal immigrants now sponsor over half of the legal newcomers to this nation. And that’s not all: In 1990, Congress created another stealth program called the Visa Lottery.

Visa Lottery

As the name implies, up to 55,000 names are drawn from a hat each year and the lucky winners are eligible for legal entry and eventual citizenship. Congress invented the lottery in order to establish chain migration from a broader base of countries.28 It’s as simple as that, but the ramifications are profound according to David Simcox of Negative Population Growth. Here’s the observation he made in March 2004 in an article titled “Humanitarian Immigration: Third World ‘Prosecution’ Swamps the West”:

The spread of literacy in the third world and the view provided by mass media to hundreds of millions there of the blandishments of life in the industrialized world have spawned ubiquitous yearnings to emigrate. One striking measure of this wanderlust is the annual U.S. "visa lottery," which in 2003 saw almost 8 million apply for only 50,000 immigrant visas. And the visa lottery accepted no applications from citizens from Mexico, China or the other top exporter nations of immigrants to the U.S. It is the studied blindness of Washington policy makers to this worldwide ravenous immigration demand that puts the nation's population and resource future at greatest risk.

One has to ask, would you invite someone to live in your home indefinitely based on a chance drawing? In turn why should the nation do this, when we have more than enough people and have to borrow money to support the people we’ve got?

Anchor Babies

But there is more to the absurdities that have evolved from what was once a noble effort to draw people to America: the granting of citizenship to newborns of unauthorized migrants. In immigration parlance they are called anchor babies, who are given birthright citizenship. “An estimated 340,000 of the 4.3 million babies born in the United States in 2008 were the offspring of unauthorized immigrants, according to a new analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data by the Pew Hispanic Center, a project of the Pew Research Center.”29 No one knows for sure what the precise count is, but the impact on the nation’s hospitals, particularly those along the southern border, has resulted in high levels of uncompensated care.

A thorough assessment by WebMD indicates that, “the costs of childbirth can be steep. The charge for an uncomplicated cesarean section was about $15,800 in 2008, while an uncomplicated vaginal birth cost about $9,600, government data show.”30 Assuming an average hospital bill of $10,000 per birth, the estimated annual tab for anchor babies in the U.S. could be at least $3.4 billion dollars, not counting pre-natal and post-partum care.

Anchor babies and US citizenship - Dave Granlund
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This also does not include those extraordinary costs for mothers in poor health or those premature babies requiring neonatal care due to congenital defects, anomalies and/or the mother’s detrimental lifestyle habits while pregnant. For example, an extended stay in a neonatal center can be easily be $100,000 and higher. It is not unusual to see bills ranging from $300,000 to $500,000.

No doubt in this group of 340,000 migrant women, who are mostly poor with little to no prenatal care, there are probably several instances of premature and complicated births. Since a sizeable percentage are without the financial means to pay doctor and hospital bills, the $3.4 billion is probably an underestimate of a huge cost burden that is cost-shifted to health insurance premiums and taxpayers. Of course, none of these numbers reflect the subsequent costs of continuing support of the newborn by Medicaid and an ever-increasing burden placed on special public education.

Another interesting twist to this narrative is that once these anchor babies reach age 21, they too can sponsor the immigration of their relatives to further add to the chain migration invasion.

Asylum and Refugee Programs

Other stealth drivers of population growth are asylum and refugee programs established for humanitarian reasons. “The Refugee Act of 1980 created The Federal Refugee Resettlement Program to provide for the effective resettlement of refugees and to assist them to achieve economic self-sufficiency as quickly as possible after arrival in the United States.

Under United States law, “a refugee” is someone who:

The admitting procedure is for the refugee to apply from abroad, documenting the facts and circumstances that qualify him or her for refugee status and then wait until the case is rejected or approved by U.S. immigration authorities. Numerical quotas set limits on how many refugees can come in a given year. In FY 2011, 113,045 refugees were admitted to the country. Over the last ten years these annual numbers have varied widely with the lowest in 2003 at 34,362 and the highest in 2009 at 118,836.32 For the last ten years, 892,855 refugees have been accepted – that’s equivalent to adding another city the size of Jacksonville, Florida to our national population roles.

The second path to admission is the asylum program, for which no numerical ceilings exist. “Unlike refugees, asylum seekers have managed to get to U.S. shores on their own, most commonly on a non-immigrant visa such as a tourist or work visa. Asylum claims can be and are made from U.S. territories such as Guam. About a quarter of asylum petitions are made by those who arrive at a U.S. port of entry without valid documents. An asylum seeker must demonstrate a "well-founded fear" of persecution on the same basis as a refugee and, once granted asylum, enjoys the same entitlements under U.S. law and theoretical protections under international law that extend to refugees.”33

Here are some startling statistics from David Simcox’s refugee article previously mentioned, which shows how good intentions can go awry:

Refugee and asylum admissions subsequently began to mount in the ‘70s to over a million in each of the last two decades. In the three decades since the end of the Vietnam War, 1.5 million Indochinese received shelter in the U.S. – and they continue to come as refugees a generation after the end of the war.

…The figures for 2002 are fairly typical. During that year the U.S. was host to some 527,000 entrants whose claims for asylum or other relief were pending before immigration officials or immigration judges. Another 21,000 were persons granted temporary protected status (TPS) in that year, joining the estimated 410,000 TPS holders already accumulated here. Still another 150,000 Colombians not included above were living in the U.S. in refugee-like circumstances, while Congressional action to grant them TPS too is under consideration.34

In addition, more than 40,000 persons were admitted provisionally to the U.S. under "humanitarian parole" – a broad discretionary authority of the Executive Branch. As many as 25,000 persons who were denied formal asylum were allowed to remain in the U.S. anyway under other forms of bureaucratic relief such as special "adjustments of status" that were disguised amnesties.35

From these scattered statistics it’s evident that the two well-intended humanitarian programs have become political footballs and inadvertent boosters of U.S. population growth. Unfortunately, they have taken on a most troubling character.

With the advent of DNA testing and identity misrepresentations by applicants, the State Department and others believe that both asylum applications and claims for family unification from settled refugees are riddled with fraud. As a result, program rejections have become commonplace. Alongside the political manipulation by both the Executive and Congressional arms, there is legal meddling by special interest groups, such as immigration lawyers, human rights groups, churches, and other advocates, causing enforcement to become a snakes-nest of regulatory challenges, set-asides, and protracted court proceedings. The Immigration and Naturalization Service, which is now Homeland Security, seems to be forced into the position of let them stay, while we figure out what to do.

The Unintended Consequences

While originally motivated by compassion and human dignity, the Visa Lottery, refugee and asylum programs, and birth right citizenship have turned into a U.S. entry game with serious unintended consequences. Here are the major concerns created:

  1. As a result of almost every foreign war, America has experienced refugees from once occupied nations as a reward to those who conspired to defeat our enemy. Not only did this happen as a result of the Vietnam conflict, but also because of Iraq Wars I and II. And no doubt more Afghans will come here too. Coupled with the phenomenon of chain migration, liberal refugee programs have and will continue to add millions to our numbers, as government assuages guilt associated with the ravages of war. It has become almost axiomatic…when the U.S. engages in a “foreign adventure,” up goes our census roles.
  2. By granting legal immigrants the right to sponsor their relatives, foreigners choose newcomers, not the U.S. government. There is a strong belief that those coming to America should be selected based on their potential contribution to our society, not familial ties. Putting it another way, newcomers who have certain needed skills or talents, should have priority and that determination should be made by federal agencies, not individual immigrants.
  3. While immigrants have the right to sponsor family members, the reality is that the granting of entry permits is determined by immigration categories and only a limited number of visas are issued each year. Over 3 million aliens have been told they are eligible to immigrate, but have to wait.36 Sizeable backlogs requiring several year waits have frustrated many, encouraging them to enter illegally.
  4. Overlooked in the push for amnesty is chain migration. There are an estimated 11.9 million unauthorized immigrants living in the United States according to a 2008 report by the Pew Hispanic Center.37 Should they be given amnesty, through regularization, earned immigrant status or some other bureaucratic euphemism, they will be more than likely granted rights to sponsor immigrant relatives. Should each newly authorized resident of this pool of nearly 12 million want to sponsor two people in the course of a decade, 24 million people would be added to the nation’s population. That is the equivalent to adding the combined populations of Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Washington to the national headcount in the course of just a few years. Since little is actually known about the illegal alien family and how many relatives might be added, the numbers are speculative but troubling. Yet, doing the simple math suggests that amnesty coupled with chain migration can add big numbers with serious and lasting environmental and economic effects.

Assuming the entire annual 50,000 Visa Lottery winners plus 80,000 refugee and asylum winners bring just two relatives here in the year following legal admission (i.e. a spouse and a child) that number jumps to 260,000 additional residents. Over a decade these unnoticed programs could generate nearly 4 million newcomers with hundreds of thousands waiting in the wings. What the citizenry doesn’t realize is that the honorable intent of bringing families together (through chain migration) with seemingly inconsequential numbers, soon multiplies into a huge infusion of people.

In conclusion, these four programs derived from American generosity and compassion have fallen victim to exploitation. In essence, Congress’ attempts to bestow opportunity on the disadvantaged in other nations, while laudable on its face, is now hurting American citizens and jeopardizing future generations. Every year more and more people are packed into already crowded cities, where finding jobs is difficult. They need to be fed, putting more pressure on an agricultural system that is under duress due to water shortages, pollution and loss of nutrient-laden topsoil.

Exponential growth fueled to a large extent by once well-intended immigration, has reached a point where migration is jeopardizing the long-term survival of country.

V. American Businesses, Workers, and Trade Agreements

To the business community, the immigration system is a source of both skilled and unskilled labor. The business community has a vested interest in maintaining a steady flow of immigrants to supplement their labor needs. At the same time they are critically aware that the system needs reforming. What follows is an overview of the various positions held by different business organizations.

Sought Reforms by the Business Community

It should be recognized that “business” in America is not a monolith. The Fortune 500 companies might consider a particular policy to be in their best interests, while the small businessperson may not share their goals, and the unions might take an entirely different tack. Yet, among them, interestingly enough, there is a common thread. Gleaned from website reviews, here are those things that business, in general, would like to see as an outcome of immigration reform:

Nothing that would materially slow commerce in and out of ports or border crossings

Expanded temporary visa and guest worker programs (e.g., H-1B visas for high-skilled or specialty occupations or L-1 Visas for employees of international companies to work in the U.S.)

A system that extends legal recognition with a pathway to citizenship for millions of illegal aliens who have settled here

Using smart screening technology, improve the tracking and control of travelers and guest workers entering and leaving the nation

Stronger enforcement of current immigration laws

Any new enforcement regimes must not penalize employers for their past inability to comply with a broken system (i.e., amnesty for employers as well)

The Essential Worker Immigration Coalition (EWIC), as its name suggests, is a gathering of U.S. business enterprises that are dependent on low cost, lower-skilled labor to survive and thrive. Among the membership are general contractors, landscapers, hotels, restaurants, roofing contractors, home care and long-term care facilities, plus some larger firms as represented by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Paraphrasing the principles listed on their website, here are the nuances EWIC would likely add to the above list:

  1. Immigration laws and regulations should enable employers to get as many foreign workers as they need based on projected economic needs, while not displacing U.S. workers in the process.
  2. All workers should enjoy the same labor law protections.38

Another notable corporate group is the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), one of the largest and oldest trade associations in the U.S. They emphasize acquisition of foreign workers based on “market demands,” improving the green card system so that immigrant talent can stay, and providing more flexibility enabling temporary workers to fill manufacturing needs. All of which should be done without displacing American workers. Let’s look at this issue in the context of the present employment situation.

According to a Pew Research Center report in March 2012, the native-born work force got back 2 million jobs between the 4th quarter of 2009 and, 2011, while the foreign-born retrieved 1 million jobs. “Jobs growth for immigrant workers in the recovery has been sufficient to restore their employment to what it was just before the recession began—22.6 million in the fourth quarter of 2011, compared with 22.5 million in the fourth quarter of 2007. The number of employed native-born workers in the fourth quarter of 2011—118.6 million—was 4.8 million short of the number before the start of the recession.”39 From this data, there is one inescapable observation: Had there been less foreign-born workers, there would be more jobs for the native-born.

I need my illegal aliens - to keep wages low and benefits non-existent! - Jack Corbett
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To add insult to injury, there are over 12.5 million unemployed with another 11.4 million underemployed and “discouraged” workers for a total of 24.9 million citizens without jobs based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics August 2012 report.40

This includes those working part-time for economic reasons (often in jobs beneath acquired skill levels and/working multiple jobs trying to make ends meet) plus discouraged workers who want to work, but either can’t find jobs or believe there are none to be had.

Had there been less legal and illegal immigration over the last couple of decades, many if not most of 22.6 million jobs identified by the Pew Research Center that are presently held by foreign born workers would be filled by American workers. From this data, it would be a hard sell by business that more immigrant workers are needed in this Great Recession.

Most likely Agribusiness would endorse many of the positions that business has taken, for those low-skilled migrants coming across the southern border are the backbone of seasonal production. The free two-way flow of agricultural workers plus earned amnesty programs would be the two key objectives in their vision of comprehensive immigration reform. No doubt amnesty for farmers who have hired illegally, or violated other labor laws, would be equally welcomed.

What the federal government or big agriculture fails to mention in this struggle is alternative solutions. For years the focus has been to maintain the seasonal flow of migrants to manually harvest plants, fruits and vegetables – not on moving more rapidly toward automation. Experts believe growers could cut costs in the long run with American workers earning a more livable wage, as they learn to operate the newly invented machinery.

Several European countries and Australia have already moved towards more mechanized production with the United States lagging behind. The major stumbling block seems to be who will pay for the needed research and development. Both state and federal governments have left it to growers, who say they can’t afford the investment due to suppressed market prices. So the idea sits idle, while the nation struggles with same old unworkable solution of importing migrants with all the attendant downsides.

Simply put, large U.S. business enterprises, as represented by their trade associations, want access to foreign labor, as they ardently believe they have a shortage of qualified workers and need cheap labor to compete globally. Important to them as well is the repeal of employer sanctions and penalties for hiring undocumented workers.

Mindful of September 11th, big business takes the position that by modernizing immigration policies national security can be enhanced in the process. Such reforms coupled with smart technology and consistent enforcement measures, will result in both a secure America and a robust commerce.

Surprisingly, however, the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB), which represents privately owned enterprises across America, departs significantly from the standard fare offered by these trade associations. Touting its 600,000 members with offices in Washington D.C. and in all state capitols, it professes to be the largest small business lobbying group, representing a diverse group of high-tech manufacturers, retailers, farmers, professional service providers, etc. According to their website, NFIB sets its public policy positions by regularly polling members and acting on their advice. Based on two separate surveys, [NFIB] members have strong opinions about immigration including:

Our borders need to be secured while expanding programs that allow legal guest workers.

Employers who knowingly hire undocumented workers should be punished.

We need a workable, reliable employee verification system.

Unlike national big-business groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Business Roundtable, we strongly oppose an amnesty program.41

It’s clear that small business sees immigration reform quite differently from that of large corporations and agribusiness for good reasons. Almost every day the owner of a small shop is asked to bid on a contract to repair or install something or provide a service. A case in point is the electrical contractor who is requested to rewire a remodeled house.

He submits a bid based on his costs plus a profit, all of which includes qualified electricians, materials, and his operational overhead. The complaint heard around the country is that legitimate contractors find themselves being underbid by less conscientious competitors using less than qualified undocumented labor. Not having to pay illegal immigrants prevailing wages and benefits gives the unscrupulous a bidding advantage that naturally undercuts the legitimate operator.

This is happening far too often in all types of businesses. The small operator sees illegal migratory labor as detrimental to competition, not an economic advantage as big business does. It should be noted that most independent and small businesses are owned by members of the middle class whose livelihoods are at stake unless they too succumb to cheating with “illegals.” It is no wonder then that the attitude of NFIB’s membership is quite different from that of larger corporations and agribusiness.

Enforcement of Immigration Law: “Trust but Verify”

To restrict the use of unauthorized immigrant labor, the Federal Immigration and Nationality Act was passed in 1952. Under Section 8 U.S.C. 1324(a)(1)(A)(iv)(b)(iii), it is unlawful to hire or recruit an alien, or to refer one for a fee, knowing that the illegal alien is unauthorized to work in the United States. It is equally unlawful to continue to employ an illegal alien knowing quite well that he or she is unauthorized to work. This law specifically requires the employer to verify that the person seeking employment is an authorized worker in the United States using an I-9 form.42

Over the span of more than 60 years this act has been amended numerous times with re-enforcing legislation. A notable structural change was made in 2003. In the wake of 9/11, the federal government asserted greater organizational authority over immigration issues and the enforcement of related laws. With the advent of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), enforcement has been assigned to three departments: 1) legal immigration is overseen by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), 2) laws regarding investigation and security are carried out by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which is the biggest sub-division of DHS, and 3) further duties regarding patrolling and border integrity have been given to the Customs and Border Protection Agency.43

Equally important was the revisions incorporated in the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 and the Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996, which reinforced the importance of verifying the identity of workers and whether they were authorized to work in the U.S. These acts have resulted in the evolution of the widely used E-Verify program; a voluntary web-based electronic verification system operated under the jurisdiction of the USCIS. If choosing not to use it, the employer still has to comply with the law using mail or some transport carriers.

While roundly resisted by business groups, many states have enacted laws requiring employers to use the federal system. The federal government itself requires their own departments and agencies to do the same. In view of its simplicity, speed and accuracy of verification, the program has grown in favor and is being used by all kinds of different employers. Now that it is widely accepted, it is seen as a deterrent to underground employment. Of course, nothing works better than stopping illegal entry in the first place. But until better trans-border security is in place, E-Verify plays a key role in discouraging the employment of unauthorized workers. Still, it is unclear how well either the states or USCIS are doing in assuring that businesses are in compliance.

Reforms Sought by Labor Unions

There’s another element, which hasn’t been adequately addressed in the media and that is how do American labor unions view the inclusion of illegal immigrants in the labor force? Until recently the American labor movement has traditionally tried to protect U.S. labor markets from being flooded with foreign workers with very limited success, as the chart shows so graphically.

Rather than fight the trend, it looks as though the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) has switched to endorsing amnesty for illegal immigrants, and also supporting the repeal of the law that makes it illegal to hire illegal aliens. Why? Well, it’s all about steadily falling membership and the loss of millions of dollars in related dues income.

As the chart suggests, major unions have significantly lost members and rather than stand fast in protecting the American worker, the leadership of the biggest union has decided to co-opt illegal workers. Some say it’s a de facto recognition that American labor has evolved into a global work force that must assimilate foreigners, whether legal or illegal, in order to be a viable power in negotiating labor contracts with transnational companies. It is sophistry, of course, but reality suggests that the unions are caught in a death trap—either increase membership and generate more dues by assimilating immigrant labor or continue to fight a losing battle to protect the labor rights of American workers against the one-two punch of Republican governors and big business.

Unions Weakened During High Immigration
Click to enlarge

Because of this predicament, it appears that U.S. workers are slowly losing a long-standing champion of their rights – namely, unions. It is also obvious that unions are under attack by the right wing of the Republican Party, not necessarily for their stance on immigrant labor, but for their alleged budget-busting contracts with local governments. The initial targets of conservative Governors are unions, which represent state workers, fire fighters, teachers and the like. Knowing that big business backed by the GOP want them out of the labor equation, big labor (AFL-CIO, Teamsters, etc.) is vigorously pushing back with Democrat Party support. For the near term, organizing immigrant labor seemingly has been forced to the back seat. Only time will tell how well unions will fare in this war to survive.

The Impact of Immigration Policy on the “Workforce in Waiting”

Overlooked in the immigrant labor issues is the “work force in waiting.” According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (August 2012 report) there are over 12.5 million unemployed with another 11.4 million underemployed in part-time jobs or deemed “discouraged” workers (not even looking for work) for a total pool of 24.9 million citizens.44 But it doesn’t stop there.

From the financial wreckage of the Great Recession, America has a new worry – what’s going to happen to the Baby Boomers? From the article, “New Poll Reveals a Future of Financial Worries For Many of Us,” the following is the essence of the challenge:

44% of Americans born between 1946 and 1965 are not confident that they'll have enough money to live comfortably in retirement, according to a new Associated poll. More than half (57%) say they lost money during the recent economic downturn and many who were affected (42%) say that's why they're delaying their retirement.

…The poll numbers show our median retirement savings stand at $40,000— a figure hugely impacted by a quarter of us who have not saved anything for retirement. Among those who have saved something, the median savings is $100,000.45

This data is in line with a previous comprehensive study done by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in January 2005 indicating that “There was at least one retirement account in 57 percent of the households. The average or mean amount in the retirement accounts was $49,944, but the standard deviation was $174,193, suggesting that the dollar amount held in retirement accounts varies widely by individual households.”46

For the most part, these two studies suggest that the baby-boom generation, a cohort of some 70 million, is ill prepared for impending retirement and most will have to work far longer than expected. For those reaching the traditional age of 65, Social Security combined with modest savings and pensions (should they have them) will make retiring financially difficult, if not impossible.

According to the BLS, “The number of workers between the ages of 65 and 74 and those aged 75 and up are predicted to soar by more than 80 percent. By 2016, workers age 65 and over are expected to account for 6.1 percent of the total labor force, up sharply from their 2006 share of 3.6 percent.”47 This means that the ranks of those 65 and older will increase by nearly 4.6 million, and no doubt they will want to hold on to their jobs or find new opportunities better suited to their experience and acquired skills. In many cases healthy seniors will have to work far longer than previously planned with others quite willing to continue rewarding careers; thus, dramatically changing the traditional composition of the work force and the type of jobs provided.

Finally, it would be unconscionable not to mention the plight of returning veterans. During 2011 about 200,000 veterans entered the civilian work force with varying degrees of success. The rate of unemployment for veterans at that time was about 4% higher than overall unemployment.48 With the completion of the Iraq War and the wind down of the Afghanistan War, even more vets will be pounding the pavement looking for work. They too must be included in “the Workforce in Waiting.”

When combining the “Workforce in Waiting” with baby boomers it is evident that a sizeable domestic pool comprising all ages and capabilities is ready to work and train for jobs. But there is another group that needs to be into this equation as well.

During this period of high unemployment, many well-educated people have had to work at jobs far below their intellectual and skill levels. Thousands of college graduates and even those with graduate degrees are waiting tables, tending bar, or working minimum wage jobs at retail stores, just to make ends meet. They too shouldn’t be overlooked in this feckless quest for cheaper foreign labor with desired skill sets. It is time for both American business and the government to re-examine labor policies with a focus on our own willing and able-bodied people.

Clearly, with a recovering economy there is a grand opportunity to meet both business and worker needs. Manufacturers are complaining that both young and seasoned workers don’t have specialized skills to run high-tech equipment such as intelligent robots, and computer controlled machinery. They need technically trained workers that have knowledge and skill levels that go beyond a traditional high school diploma.

While most young people would like to have a college degree, many lack the desire to pursue one or cannot afford the cost. Instead of searching the world over for needed personnel, why not re-establish technical institutes and re-direct community colleges to train our own American workers according to business specifications? The Obama Administration is pressing Congress to do this. With the support of industry and adequate funding from both business and government, in time there should be little need for the importation of foreign labor.

Also, agricultural guest worker programs should be legitimized with workable regulations and monitoring. Canada has a very effective program, the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program, which America could employ without doing harm to its own farm workers.49 In conclusion, there is ample talent sitting on America’s workbench – it’s just a matter of getting them in the game to win for themselves and the nation.

Globalization and Trade Agreements

Most people believe that immigration and trade agreements are separate issues, but nothing could be farther from the truth. Let’s start with a little back grounding.

Although globalization has been ongoing for centuries, it is currently a hot topic due to the nature of recent trade pacts and how they are being negotiated and administered, as well as the impact on signatory nations.

Historically, the U.S. has had trade agreements with other nations since its founding. Following WWII, however, the nations of the world created the General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs (GATT) in 1948 to foster trade cooperation on an international basis primarily amongst the more developed countries. The U.S became a signatory and GATT remained in effect until 1994.

In January of 1995 GATT morphed into the World Trade Organization (WTO) located in Geneva, Switzerland with a broader agenda to include more developing nations and to officially promote better international trade relations under the Marrakech Agreement. This agreement includes various rules and regulation that were stipulated under its predecessor, the GATT, as well as additional regulations promulgated over time as a result of international trade meetings, called “rounds.” Included in this agreement are “rules of trade” for resolving disputes, removing trade barriers, lowering tariffs, the handling of anti-dumping regulations, adjusting agricultural subsidies, assuring intellectual property rights and other issues dealing with trade related services.

It’s important to understand that under the Marrakech Agreement, all parties who join “must agree to the document as a whole as opposed to a partial agreement.”50 In other words, signatories cannot cherry pick those rules or regulations they favor and discard those they don’t like. It is this “all or none” feature that results in trade agreements that circumvent American immigration laws, resulting in harmful competition to American workers. Also, WTO critics have taken certain umbrage to the idea of having to give up any of the nation’s sovereign rights to an international tribunal as a consequence of signing this agreement.

Under the aegis of the WTO, the U.S. has negotiated strategic trade pacts, such as The North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the Chile and Singapore treaties, and the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). These acronyms easily slip into everyday conversations for they materially affect the lives of hundreds of millions of people in the Americas and elsewhere.

For more than a decade, these pacts have left dubious marks on trading scorecards, particularly for the U.S. as witnessed by the huge annual trading deficits. For those nations not faring well, free trade and globalization have become very controversial topics, resulting in demonstrations at key world trade meetings with waning support from the citizenry.

The U.S. government, the Federal Reserve, and international corporations remain strong supporters along with most of Congress. They see free trade or fair trade as a capitalistic prescription for raising the standard of living for all participating partners – spreading democracy and helping two-thirds of the globe get out of poverty.

On the other side of the debate are many activist organizations that view these new trade pacts as (a) usurping sovereign powers and transferring them to international tribunals, (b) threatening the livelihood of workers in both developed and Third World countries in deference to the economic and political interests of transnational corporations, and (c) forfeiting competitive advantage to emerging nations that don’t have stringent labor and environmental standards.

From strictly a U.S. perspective, these pacts have not shown improvement in the balance of trade as originally thought. In fact, just the opposite is true. And more recently concern over high U.S. unemployment has bought a new twist to trade issues: how to protect American workers and still comply with operative trade agreements.

It is not the intent here to debate the merits of free trade and globalization, but to penetrate and expose trade provisions that place demographic burdens on America. Buried in the detail that gets little media notice, are agreements that empower foreign companies and their employees (and families) to immigrate to the U.S. In effect, our trade negotiators have thrown open the doors to huge numbers of guest workers with ambiguous time limits on their stays. What is feared is that so-called “temporary workers” will become permanent replacements shutting out qualified American workers.

In an April 2004 article titled, “Trade Agreements and Immigration,” Jessica Vaughn of the Center for Immigration Studies outlines the following pitfalls in negotiated trade agreements:

As a result of these commitments, the United States has put itself on a one-way boulevard with few exits, moving toward wide-open access for foreign workers and the companies who hire them, under terms dictated by an international organization rather than our own democratically-evolving immigration laws. Without adjustments to both our planned treaty commitments and our existing dysfunctional guest worker policies, the consequences are potentially disastrous for large segments of the U.S. workforce.

For instance the TN program, created by NAFTA, allows an unlimited number of Canadian and Mexican professionals to work in the United States on temporary visas, pretty much forever. The other guest worker program covered by trade agreements, the H1-B, allows in at least 65,000 foreign professionals a year under certain conditions. [If they all stayed, at the end of 10 years, 650,000 would be added to the nation’s skilled labor pool as result of this one provision alone].

Hospitals and health care services firms are also heavy users of trade pact-guaranteed guest-worker programs. At least 50,000 foreign nurses have entered the country in the last 10 years on temporary visas, mostly Canadians, using the TN visa.

Each year roughly 100,000 “temporary” guest-workers receive permanent residency (green cards), and the numbers would likely be even higher if it were not for the statutory annual limits on green cards.51

Ms. Vaughan goes on to argue that open-ended provisions should be renegotiated to strict numerical limits and that foreign companies should not be allowed to simply “dump” their employees here, thereby preventing American workers from openly competing for home-based jobs. Also, American corporations are outsourcing technological-based functions to foreign contractors, who in turn have bought in their cheaper H-1B or L1 guest-workers to replace American employees. That is, the homegrown, high-skilled tech worker ends up forfeiting his job to outsourcing and then is effectively prevented from competing for his lost position once a foreign company takes control.

Whereas U.S. trade negotiators’ priority ought to be to protect American jobs first, it doesn’t seem to be the case. The public would be astonished by what is being negotiated in the name of building up exports and supposedly producing more jobs for America.

Mass Immigration Decreases U.S. Economic Prosperity

As seen earlier in other chapters, businesses of all kinds are in favor of imported cheap labor as a means of dampening down American wages in the name of global competition and enhancing profitability. Even Allan Greenspan, the past Chairman of the Federal Reserve, saw the steady flow of migrants as a means of tempering the costs of both skilled and unskilled labor, thereby helping to keep national inflation in check. But in so doing, no one laid out the cost to the nation? Certainly business believes immigration is a boon to them, but what about to the American worker and taxpayer?

Pro-immigration activists are often heard touting the contribution migrants make to America’s economy by taking domestic jobs that the native workers supposedly don’t want. Even Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney, who is viewed as tough on immigration, says in his Five Point Economic Plan, “The United States needs to attract and retain job creators from wherever they come. Foreign born residents with advanced degrees start companies, create jobs, and drive innovation at an especially high rate.”52 Advocates of immigration often remind the public that millions are paid in state and federal taxes, thereby leaving the impression that immigrants are more than paying their own way and in the process are expanding the economic pie. The facts, however, belie their contentions.

In the mid-1990s, many began to question the socio-economic effect immigration had on the U.S., since it was evident that the pace of legal immigration was picking up noticeably and was compounded by an additional tens of thousands illegally entering the border-states. To deal with the issues involved, President Clinton in 1997 appointed the Jordan Immigration Commission to develop a set of recommendations. In its 1995 report, it recommended to Congress, “a core immigration admissions level of 550,000 per year,” which is about half the current rate, along with a major overhaul of the whole system.53 In the course of the Commission’s investigation the National Research Council (NRC) was hired to survey technical literature on the economics of immigration, the results of which were published in a report titled The New Americans.

According to an analysis of this report done by Edwin S. Rubenstein, a contributor to the Social Contract Press, the NRC reported that, “the average immigrant household receives $13,326 in federal monies and pays $10,664 in federal taxes—that is, they generate a fiscal deficit of $2,682 (1996 dollars) per household.”54

In that same year, Dr. Donald Huddle of Rice University forecasted that the net cumulative cost to American taxpayers for mass immigration for the decade during the years of 1998-2007 would be $932 billion, averaging $93.2 billion per year.55

During that decade, livable wage paying jobs were disappearing with pay rates remaining essentially flat, if not slowly slipping behind the rate of inflation for almost 60% of the U.S. labor force.56

As one anonymous writer aptly put it, “many American families are working hard, but falling short.” What Dr. Huddle’s findings and those of the NRC suggest is that the federal government’s immigration policy has and is adding an immigration surcharge to wage earners and taxpayers for the publicly provided services to migrants, such as costly education and health care. In effect, this is wage redistribution where incoming immigrants benefit from the erosion of household incomes for both middle class and lower class workers.

Proponents of immigration have argued that although migrants initially depressed wages they would be eventually restored by new capital investment. That is to say, when an area becomes known for its cheap labor pool, businesses would over time locate there. Once that happened both migrant and domestic workers would benefit alike from newly created jobs. No studies were offered to validate these suppositions.

In the 2005 Economic Report of the President, Mr. Bush makes this statement about immigration: “America is a stronger and better Nation for it…the foreign-born are associated with much of the employment growth in recent years. Between 1996 and 2003, when total employment grew by 11 million, 58 percent of the increase was among foreign-born workers.”

Deeper into the report it is stated that the population grew by 21.6 million with 41% attributable to immigration.57

Obviously the President thought there was virtue in growing the population with employment of immigrants. But is that good for the nation? Would it have been better to have 41% fewer people with all the jobs created going to domestic workers?

Other troubling observations are made as well. For instance, “immigrants typically do not impose a net cost at the federal level, where most of the proceeds from payroll taxes accrue, but rather at the state and local level through their use of public schools and health care.”58 Putting it another way, the report acknowledges that the Feds have enjoyed the tax revenues with the states and local government picking up the tab for infrastructure wear and tear, along with those costs relating to education, social services, public safety and security, and the administration of the criminal justice system.

Apparently the author of the President’s Economic Report had no inkling that the federal government itself also pays a very heavy price for immigration. This is not surprising when, according to Edwin S. Rubenstein, a noted economist and business journalist, “the federal government has never produced a comprehensive study of this issue. Executive Agencies are not required to do Fiscal Impact Statements for new immigration policies.”59 As a consequence, he decided to do his own independent study in 2008.

Here’s what he found. Of the fifteen departments profiled, which included the Treasury, Social Security Administration, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, even the Defense Department to name a few, the total tab to taxpayers was $346 billion for the FY 2007. That’s for one year and for 10 years the total cost would be nearly $3.5 trillion assuming everything remains constant, which is unlikely due to uncertain inflation that still nags the nation even during these difficult times.60 Remember, these figures are devoid of state and local governmental costs.

The fiscal evidence is clear that starting in the ‘90s mass immigration has been a net liability to the American economy. While big business (the private sector) benefits from cheaper low-skilled immigrants, it’s the taxpayers that really bare the heaviest burden of this demographic invasion. Yet, there are other socio-economic repercussions as well. Some sociologists and social commentators are concerned that a growing under-class of minimum-wage workers is emerging without the education and skills to advance in society. With the recent recession, the situation is getting worse.

As Pat Buchanan said in his book “The Death of the West,” “what is good for corporate America is not necessarily good for Middle America. When it comes to open borders, the corporate interest and the national interest do not coincide, they collide.”

With the gradual erosion of the middle class, this country is insidiously taking on the character of a “Middle-World Society” where a rich oligarchy rules an ever enlarging class of economically depressed and deprived people. Unfortunately, mass immigration is not making life better in the U.S., as big business and the government would like everyone to believe. Instead it is transforming an inspirational American Dream into a nightmarish struggle for survival for all except the oligarchy.

As the title of this section, “A Noble Notion Gone Bad” implies “One of the great challenges to public policy is knowing when and how to change a successful policy, grown obsolete.”61 Nothing could be truer as our archaic and arcane immigration policy is creating major deep-seated, socio-economic distress and eroding the future of coming generations of Americans.

VI. A Proposed Solution to America’s Mass Immigration Challenge

As each layer of the contentiously complex immigration “onion” has been peeled away and dissected, a comprehensive assessment emerges as to what is at stake for the nation.

To resolve the growing crisis surrounding immigration, it’s clear that any Congress and Administration will have to contend with differing political ideologies, powerful corporate alliances, and a public that is fed up with the inept handling of the immigration question. Not to mention the extraordinary diplomatic complications presented by a meddling Mexican neighbor, an important trading partner and an ally in the drug war. Without a doubt dealing with the politically complex immigration issues is not for the faint hearted; the strong among us have to face them sooner or later.

Whether one is pro-immigration or simply dead set against it, there are two harsh realities to face. First, until the human community is right-sized on earth and socio-economic parity has been established among nations, the free flow of peoples across borders is unrealistic and unworkable. Yet, migrants will continue to come due to failed or faltering governments, lack of economic opportunity, or more basic still, the lack of enough food and water and the availability of secure shelter in their homelands. With ever-increasing tumult and dislocation for tens of millions about the globe, prosperous countries like the United States and European nations are and will be compelled to address the issue of self-preservation in the face of this onslaught.

Secondly, as discussed in the Population Primer, a place (i.e. a nation) has a natural carrying capacity and swamping it with people has serious life-threatening consequences for its peoples. With our own exponential growth rendering us heavily dependent on foreign trade for daily necessities, can the U.S. continue to rely on uncertain world markets buffeted by fickle and unpredictable geo-politics and competition for its survival?

In confronting these contemporary dilemmas, it should be made clear that race or ethnicity matters little. No matter what color hands control the nation’s levers of power the problem remains the same. It’s the sheer numbers of human beings in a given place that determines ecological sustainability and economic prosperity. Certainly science and technology can mitigate some of the effects of overload, but human numbers, no matter the race or ethnicity, are determinate.

In this new century every prosperous nation will be pressured into making one of the most agonizing decisions in contemporary times: Should we protect our own by keeping others out or capitulate to the assault of mass migration and hope for divine intervention? For any compassionate country this is a gut wrenching choice, one that the United States must make and make soon for we are on the cusp of rapid economic and environmental decline.

Whether America can rescue the slipping quality of life and standard of living for the middle and lower classes depends on achieving control of immigration. If not done, another China or India will be in the making. While these two countries are slowly making life better for the masses, their standards are not something to which this nation should aspire.

No doubt it’s going to be very difficult to change attitudes toward immigration. From the early days of the republic there has been a cultural inculcation of the virtues of immigration. At an early age, students are taught that immigration built this beautiful country with the strong-willed and morally righteous, who threw off the yoke of oppression elsewhere and sought a better life here in America. Novels, movies, and story-telling are replete with the courage, tenacity, and sacrifice of newcomers, who made a valuable contribution to American society, much of which is true to the bone.

But now America has too many people. It’s overpopulated. It is like a full elevator, slowly rising to the next level. When the doors open, somebody has to get off before somebody can get on. And it is this exchange principle that should be the basis for an interim strategy to put a cap on growth.

Homeland Security should admit about 250,000 legal permanent residents each year, which is believed to be about the number of citizens that permanently leave the U.S. annually. This number will allow a sufficient number of highly skilled and knowledgeable workers (unavailable in the U.S.) to be admitted, along with a limited number of refugees and asylum seekers, while the nation works its way through carefully planned immigration reform.

With this temporary cap, the U.S. can declare a moratorium on immigration, giving the country time to better secure the borders and enforce present immigration laws, while fashioning a new national population policy. Once done, a comprehensive, rational reform of U.S. immigration policy can follow. No doubt this will be difficult and politically painful, but it will be far better and more constructive, then flailing away at the present mismanaged mess, hoping for a miracle. By realistically managing our demographics, the more likely prosperity will be achieved for our children and those new citizens from abroad.

    Tanton, JH, ed. 2011. Common Sense on Mass Immigration. Petoskey, MI: The Social Contract Press, 2011. Page 3.
  1. Office of Immigration Statistics. Yearbook of Immigration Statistics: 2010, Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of. Homeland Security, Office of Immigration Statistics, 2011. Page 5.
  2. Natural Increase is birth minus deaths in a given year. The 1.6 million figure was abstracted from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 40 year projection made in 2009.
  3. In a Zogby poll (February 2010) of 700 Hispanic, 400 African-American, and 400 Asian-American likely voters, respondents believe immigration to the U.S. is too high, too low, or just right (African-Americans: 68% too high, 4% too low, 14% just right; Hispanics: 56% too high, 7% too low, 20% just right; Asian-Americans: 57% too high, 5% too low, 18% just right). The same respondents believe that illegal immigration is due to a lack of enforcement, or unfair limits on legal immigrants (African-Americans: 70% lack of enforcement, 16% unfair limits; Hispanics: 61% lack of enforcement, 20% unfair limits; Asian-Americans: 69% lack of enforcement, 19% unfair limits). In another Zogby poll (November 2009) of 41,162 likely voters containing 9,990 small business owners, 7,046 union member households, and 2,490 Executives (CEOs, CFOs, VPs, and department heads), most respondents believe that overall immigration is too high (Executives: 63% too high, 5% too low, 16% just right; Small Business Owners: 70% too high, 4% too low, 13% just right; Union Member Households: 63% too high, 5% too low, 14% just right; All Likely Voters: 67% too high, 4% too low, 14% just right). These same respondents believe that illegal immigration is due to a lack of enforcement, not because of unfair limits on legal immigration (Executives: 75% lack of enforcement, 13% unfair limits; Small Business Owners: 79% lack of enforcement, 10% unfair limits; Union Member Households: 71% lack of enforcement, 14% unfair limits; All Likely Voters: 74% lack of enforcement, 13% unfair limits).
  4. Department of Homeland Security memo explaining the order and the agency’s new policy.
  5. Warbelow, K, Deportation Fear Eased by Obama Policy, Immigrants Say, Bloomberg, June 15, 2012.
  6. National Commission on Terrorism. Countering the Changing Threat of International Terrorism. June, 2000.
  7. Woodbridge, F, Mexicanization of America., May 30, 2005.
  8. United States Department of Justice, Overview of Executive Order 13166, August 2000.
  9. “In a report to Congress in 2002, the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) reported that forcing physicians to provide multilingual outpatient services would cost $180.8 million annually. In addition, inpatient services in multiple languages would cost hospitals $78.2 million, while the bill for multilingual emergency room services would tally $8.6 million, pushing the health care total to $267.6 million.” U.S. English, Executive Order 13166. Executive Order 13166
  10. U.S. English, Executive Order 13166.
  11. Population Reference Bureau, World Population Datasheet 2012, July 2012.
  12. Hawkins, W and Anderson, E. Open Borders Lobby and the Nation’s Security after 9/11. Center for the Study of Population, 2004. Page 11.
  13. Other like-minded organizations include the National Lawyers Guild, American Immigration Lawyers Association, The Center for Constitutional Rights, American Bar Association Commission on Immigration Policy, Practice, and Probono, American Friends Service Committee, National Network For Immigration and Refugee Rights, New York State Defenders Association-Criminal Defense Immigration Project (IDP), Immigrant Legal Resource Center, Carnegie Immigration Policy Institute, Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies, and the National Immigration Law Center.
  14. Wikipedia, Immigration reduction in the United States, August 2012
  15. Organizations that identify with IR goals include the American Border Patrol, American Renaissance, American Resistance Foundation, Americans for Better Immigration, Californians for Population Stabilization, Carrying Capacity Network, Center for Immigration Studies, Civil Homeland Defense Corps, Coalition for the Future American Worker, Diversity Alliance for A Sustainable America, Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), Minuteman Civil Defense Corps, Negative Population Growth, Numbers USA, POP*STOP, Population-Environment Balance, Rescue American Jobs, Social Contract Press, VDARE.COM, U.S. English, Pro English, American Immigration Control Foundation, California Coalition For Immigration Reform (CCIR), Protect Arizona Now (PAN), and many environmental and population management organizations (See Wikipedia, Immigration reduction in the United States).
  16. Kammer, J. Immigration and the SPLC: How the Southern Poverty Law Center Invented a Smear, Served La Raza, Manipulated the Press, and Duped its Donors, Center for Immigration Studies, March 2010.
  17. Potok, M. The Nativist Lobby: Three Faces of Intolerance, Southern Poverty Law Foundation, February 2009.
  18. Barry, T. Immigration Advocates Face Challenges, August 2005. See also Immigrant Rights: Scope, Limits, and Implications, March 2012.
  19. U.S. Department of State, U.S. Relations with Mexico Fact Sheet, June 25, 2012.
  20. Pasel, J and Cohn, DV. Unauthorized Immigrant Population: National and State Trends, 2010, February 2011.
  21. U.S. Embassy. Mexico: Poverty at a Glance. U.S. Embassy, Mexico City.
  22. Wikipedia. Economy of Mexico.
  23. U.S. Department of State, U.S. Relations with Mexico Fact Sheet, June 25, 2012.
  24. Federation for American Immigration Reform. Remittances to Mexico 2009.
  25. U.S. Census Bureau, Trade in Goods with Mexico, U.S. Department of Commerce, June 2012.
  26. Smith, JP and Edmonston, B, Editors; Panel on the Demographic and Economic Impacts of Immigration, National Research Council. The New Americans, Economic, Demographic, and Fiscal Effects of Immigration. Washington, D.C.: National Academies Press, 1997. See also Rubenstein, E, What Price Mass Immigration?, The Social Contract Press, Vol. XVIII, No. 2 Winter 2007-2008.
  27. NumbersUSA, Visa Lottery.
  28. Passel, J and Taylor, P. Unauthorized Immigrants and Their U.S.-Born Children, Pew Research Center, August 2010.
  29. Hatfield, H. What It Costs to Have a Baby, WebMD, September, 2012.
  30. U.S. Citizenship and Information Services website
  31. Office of Immigration Statistics. Yearbook of Immigration Statistics: 2011, Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of. Homeland Security, Office of Immigration Statistics, 2011.
  32. Barnett, D. The Coming Conflict Over Asylum: Does America Need a New Asylum Policy? Center for Immigration Studies, March 2002.
  33. U.S. Committee for Refugees, World Refugee Report – 2002, U.N. Refugee Agency.
  34. Simcox, D. Humanitarian Immigration: Third World “Prosecution” Swamps the West. Negative Population Growth. March 2004.
  35. Federation for American Immigration Reform. Chain Migration. December 2002.
  36. Passel, J. A Portrait of Unauthorized Immigrants in the United States, Pew Research Center, September 2009.
  37. Essential Worker Immigration Coalition, Principles and Policies.
  38. Kochar, R. The Demographics of the Jobs Recovery, Pew Research Center. March 21, 2012
  39. Bureau of Labor Statistics, The Employment Situation August-2012, U.S. Department of Labor. September 7, 2012.
  40. National Federation of Independent Businesses. NFIB Active in Immigration Debate, October/November, 2007.
  41. Minnesotans for Sustainability, Excerpts from the U.S. legal code referring to hiring illegal aliens.
  42. Wikipedia. U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
  43. Bureau of Labor Statistics, The Employment Situation August-2012, U.S. Department of Labor. September 7, 2012.
  44. Coleman Morris, V. New Poll Reveals a Future of Financial Worries For Many of Us, April 5, 2011.
  45. DeVaney, S and Chiremba, S. Comparing the Retirement Savings of the Baby Boomers and Other Cohorts, Bureau of Labor and Statistics, U.S Department of Labor. January 24, 2005.
  46. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, Older Workers, U.S. Department of Labor. July 2008.
  47. Hoober, S. Homelessness and unemployment plaque new veterans,, July 11, 2011.
  48. Note that such a program won’t work unless there are secure borders and well maintained tracking systems.
  49. World Trade Organization History. Retrieved October 2012.
  50. Vaughn, J. Immigration and Trade Agreements, Center for Immigration Studies. April 2004. Retrieved in October 2012.
  51. Retrieved from
  52. See U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis data for the years 1970 to 2004, that shows declining Real Personal Income (adjusted for inflation) for the lower three quartiles (60%) of Americans.
  53. Rubinstein, E.The Economic and Fiscal Impact of Immigration: a New Analysis, The Social Contract Press, Winter 2007-2008 edition, page 75.
  54. Rubinstein, E. The Economic and Fiscal Impact of Immigration: a New Analysis, The Social Contract Press, Winter 2007-2008 edition, page 75.
  55. Rubinstein, E. The Economic and Fiscal Impact of Immigration: a New Analysis, The Social Contract Press, Winter 2007-2008 edition, page 75. See also Tanton, JH, ed. 2011. Common Sense on Mass Immigration. Petoskey, MI: The Social Contract Press, 2011. Page 3.
  56. Administration of George W. Bush. Economic Report of the President, U.S. Government Printing Office, Chapter 4, page 107. 2005.
  57. Administration of George W. Bush. Economic Report of the President, U.S. Government Printing Office, Chapter 4, page 107. 2005.
  58. Rubinstein, E. The Economic and Fiscal Impact of Immigration: a New Analysis, The Social Contract Press, Winter 2007-2008 edition, page 75. See also Tanton, JH, ed. 2011. Common Sense on Mass Immigration. Petoskey, MI: The Social Contract Press, 2011. Page 3.
  59. Rubinstein, E. The Economic and Fiscal Impact of Immigration: a New Analysis, The Social Contract Press, Winter 2007-2008 edition, page 75. See also Tanton, JH, ed. 2011. Common Sense on Mass Immigration. Petoskey, MI: The Social Contract Press, 2011. Page 3.
  60. Rubinstein, E. The Economic and Fiscal Impact of Immigration: a New Analysis, The Social Contract Press, Winter 2007-2008 edition, page 75. See also Tanton, JH, ed. 2011. Common Sense on Mass Immigration. Petoskey, MI: The Social Contract Press, 2011. Page 3.