Many thanks to those of you (Ali, Chris, Mike and Director Mitch) who commented on my last post about Bush's proposal to legalize undocumented workers. You spurred me on to research the facts and come up with a solution instead of simply ranting (although sometimes it just feels good to rant, and it sure generates good healthy debate!). I have some thoughts that I'll post later today -- particularly immigration's impact on business -- but first I wanted to share a well-researched paper on The Social Contract web site called "Sorting Through Humanitarian Clashes In Immigration Policy". It presents the pros and cons of open, closed and restricted immigration policies. Highly recommended reading. Here's part of the summary:
The ethical basis of the current U.S. immigration policy would appear to be to help:
- consumers to benefit from lower prices,
- business owners to restrain the growth in wages and to more easily fill job openings
- families — primarily upper income — to obtain the services of nannies, gardeners and housekeepers,
- the owners of capital to make larger profits (immigration is a key ingredient in the rising income disparity in the nation).
And immigration, according to those studies, currently harms:
• lower-skilled workers, especially the foreign-born,
• poor Americans trying to leave welfare and join the labor force,
• students in crowded schools, especially racial minorities in core cities,
• middle-class taxpayers in high-immigration states who subsidize the average immigrant by $1,500 to $4,000 each,
• hunters, anglers, boaters and outdoor recreation enthusiasts of all types who suffer extra congestion from population growth caused primarily by immigration,
• breathers of air in cities that do not meet clean air standards because of population growth,
• users of the 40 percent of the nation’s lakes and streams that still do not meet clean water standards,
• all who value the wildlife, natural habitat, ecosystems and bio-diversity that are reduced each year by the pressures from population growth,
• traffic-weary motorists and residents of small cities, towns and rural areas trying to preserve their culture of living.
Because the effect of current immigration numbers is so drastic on the rate of population growth, people who place a high ethical value on clean air and water, protecting eco-systems, resisting congestion and sprawl, and preserving community cultures will have to consider great reductions in the overall numbers as they create an ethically ideal immigration policy.
Before deciding what our ethical position dictates in terms of “how many?” we should consider that the U.S. Census Bureau projects that under the current rate of immigration the 1970 population of 203 million will nearly double to 394 million by the year 2050... The Census Bureau states that replacement-level immigration currently is 225,000. So illegal immigration would have to be stopped entirely, and legal immigration reduced from 915,000 in 1996 to 225,000 to allow the U.S. population (267 million in 1997) to stabilize soon after 2050 at around 320 million. If we don’t want to add another 50 million people to the country, we will have to choose an immigration level below 200,000.