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June 3, 2009
Hearing on S. 424
No New Categories of Immigration Should Be Considered
Testimony by Roy Beck, Founder & CEO
I am an author and former newspaper reporter who founded NumbersUSA as a non-profit, non-partisan organization in 1996 to carry out the immigration recommendations of two national commissions. We now have 900,000 on-line activist members who support that mission.
The two commissions were:
?The bi-partisan U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform (chaired by Barbara Jordan). It recommended deep cuts in immigration to remove the economic injustice that current immigration numbers impose on the most vulnerable members of our national community.
NumbersUSA examines every immigration proposal on the basis of how it would advance or impede the numerical recommendations of the two Clinton-era commissions.
Thus, a bill like S. 424 will tend to be examined entirely outside its environmental impact in a time of grave environmental concerns - and outside its economic impact despite our 9% unemployment rate.
But nearly every new adult permanently added to the U.S. population through immigration legislation would be a potential competitor to unemployed and underemployed American workers. And every new immigrant increases the total U.S. carbon footprint and ecological footprint (and, because of increased consumption once they arrive here, increases the global footprints, as well).
Every piece of our complex immigration policy caters to a particular special interest. But the combined effect of all those pieces on our nation's population growth has profound consequences for the entire national community in terms of the public infrastructure deficit, economic disparities and stewardship over our natural resources.
In many ways, it would make more sense for S. 424 to be reviewed by the Senate committees on Energy and Natural Resources, or on Environment and Public Works, or on Health, Education and Labor. The giant population increases caused by immigration policies have enormous implications for the ability of those committees to reach their goals.
Getting From One Million To 250,000
In 1972, Americans chose to reduce the U.S. fertility rate to below the replacement level of 2.1. It has been just below that level ever since. Yet, U.S. population growth doesn't reflect that at all:
?The 1990s saw the largest U.S. population boom in our nation's history - much higher than the famous baby boom of the 1950s.
?The fevered U.S. population growth remains similar in this first decade of the 21st century.
?Even the annual number of births is setting all-time records.
There is only one reason why U.S. population trends are the opposite of those recommended by President Clinton's sustainability commission. And that reason is that Congress has repeatedly overridden the American people's choice of a stabilizing future and forced massive population growth through a quadrupling of annual green cards since 1965.
Yet, I'm not aware of a single Congress that stated a goal of increasing U.S. population growth, let alone stated why individual Americans' lives would be improved by such forced growth. For the most part, the explosive increases are the result of carelessness and unintended consequences while Congress does the bidding of one special interest group after another.
The most recent official numerical results of Congress' piecemeal approach to immigration policies are these:
?1,107,126 green cards issued to immigrants (2008)
?725,000 illegal foreign workers and dependents (as an annual average 2000-2007)
?1,015,000 annual births to legal and illegal immigrants (2005)
Until the first Earth Day in 1970, legal immigration had run about 250,000 a year on average. The most recent average during the 1950s and 1960s was just above that number.
In order to meet the sustainability commission's recommendations of moving toward a stabilized U.S. population, green card numbers would have to be cut back to that traditional level - between 250,000 and 300,000.
One example of the impact of 130 million more people is our efforts to increase electricity generation from wind. The Department of Energy has announced $93 million in Stimulus money for wind-power development. DOE has a very ambitious goal of wind producing 20% of electricity demand by 2030, after a lot more investment than this initial $93 million. Unfortunately, immigration-driven population growth will add more new electricity demand during that time than all the new wind power added.
A Matter of Profound Environmental Importance for Posterity
This was clear in the instructions to President Clinton's Council on Sustainable Development, which was established to find ways "to bring people together to meet the needs of the present without jeopardizing the future."
It determined that however immigration policy might be serving some narrow interests of the present, the resulting population growth was severely endangering the future.
"As a matter of public debate, immigration is a sensitive and explosive issue, and both legal and illegal immigration must be addressed with great sensitivity and care in order to advance the debate.
"We acknowledge these impediments to easy and informal dialogue, and we urge that participants take appropriate care so that a reasoned discussion of immigration and the American future can begin.
"We believe that reducing current immigration levels is a necessary part of working toward sustainability in the United States."
New Categories Require Multiple Off-Sets
That is exactly opposite the direction that Congress should be moving in immigration policy.
Immigration-driven U.S. population growth is making the really difficult tasks of meeting carbon goals, energy goals, infrastructure goals and economic goals close to impossible without fundamentally slashing the American standard of living.
If Congress were in the midst of moving annual immigration toward the 250,000 goal, there might be room for considering bills like S. 424 if each of the new green cards created in a bill was accompanied by a "multiple off-set" that not only would make up for the new green cards but would advance the overall reduction goal.
That is, a bill should provide for cutting three green cards from other categories for each new one issued under the bill.
Unfortunately, though, I have seen no sign that Congress is considering reductions in green cards this year - despite there being 14 million Americans looking for jobs and unable to find one. Rather, news stories are full of quotes from Members of Congress and others talking of giant increases in the number of green cards to be issued over the next few years - quite apart from S. 424.
NumbersUSA and the 900,000 Americans we represent urge you to view S. 424 the way that two national commissions have recommended all immigration legislation be viewed: as a piece of the larger fabric of our national community. By adding green cards without reducing others, S. 424 directly contradicts the recommendations of President Clinton's sustainability commission and of the late Barbara Jordan's immigration commission.
Given the larger context of current immigration levels, passing S. 424 would be irresponsible to the environment, to future generations and to the most economically vulnerable members of our national community.