Immigration prevents environmental progress
Pres. Clinton’s task force understood it. The Father of Earth Day understood it. You and I understand it. Why does Congress not understand that U.S. environmental sustainability is not possible unless we greatly reduce immigration numbers?
What does sustainability mean? That the way we live today will not prevent our grandchildren from enjoying the same things we enjoy. The Golden Rule is at the heart of it.
Sustainability was the big idea 40 years ago when much of the nation’s attention was drawn to the events and news of the first Earth Day. I was a cub newspaper reporter covering the events. And I remember well that an important theme in 1970 was that sustainability required the U.S. to begin to stabilize its population after having added the second 100 million in just 55 years.
Well, now we’ve added the third 100 million in less than the 40 years since that first Earth Day and we’re on pace to add the fourth 100 million even faster.
Because of this massive population explosion, progress on environmental quality in recent years has stalled. The Chesapeake Bay, for example, is just about as near death today as it was in 1970.
And around 1 million acres of natural habitat and farmland are cleared, scraped and developed each year just to accommodate this rapid population growth.
Nearly all of the population growth is caused by the increases in immigration that Congress ordered or allowed since 1970. For every restriction and cost that the government has put on us since then to improve environmental quality, it has negated part or all of the benefits by forcing high population growth through radically increased immigration numbers.
That is why the Father of Earth Day, Sen. Gaylord Nelson (D-Wis.), made U.S. population stabilization such an important part of the teaching back in 1970 and why he spent much of the last 20 years warning of the environmental dangers of continuing our high-immigration policies.
Even Pres. Clinton’s Population and Consumption Task Force concluded in 1996 that the immigration increases since the first Earth Day had to be rolled back.
The task force was a bit nervous about taking on the immigration issues (just like most environmentalists are):
—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.
But then Pres. Clinton’s task force stated forcefully:
—We believe that reducing current immigration levels is a necessary part of working toward sustainability in the United States.
Pres. Clinton had established the task force in 1993 to find ways “to bring people together to meet the needs of the present without jeopardizing the future.”
Have you noticed that I have been quoting only Democrats?
If you are represented by Democrats in Congress, this is an especially good time to call on them to be true to their party’s long-standing “stated” commitment to environmental sustainability.
Of course, most of them don’t want to deal with the inconvenient truth that the Democratic Party’s insistence on high immigration to drive massive U.S. population growth is at odds with decades of acknowledgments that these policies simply cannot continue if we hope to leave any kind of natural environmental legacy to our grandchildren.
President Carter in 1977 commissioned a Global 2000 Report which eventually concluded that the “United States should: Develop a U.S. national population policy that includes attention to issues such as population stabilization … just, consistent and workable immigration laws.”
Without all the increases in immigration, our communities would have around 250 million inhabitants right now, with little likelihood of ever going over 265 million.
Instead, because of a quadrupling in legal immigration numbers, we have more than 310 million inhabitants and are on a trajectory to cross 600 million well before the end of this century.
Obviously, the first Earth Day vision was for an America greatly different than the one we occupy today. And congressional immigration policies are the main reason that bright vision is now so murky.
This 40th anniversary is not a time of celebration but of deep sadness for the promise that was lost.
As Sen. Gaylord Nelson said on the 32nd anniversary just a few years before his death:
—We are preparing to celebrate the 32nd Earth Day just after the Census Bureau has announced that far from winding down in the 1990s, U.S. population growth boomed at its highest level in the nation’s history! Not even the peak of the Baby Boom in the 1950s added as many people!
This new population boom represents a profound failure in our nation’s pursuit of environmental quality. Since 1970, another 80 million people have been added to the country.
Every environmental goal has been delayed because of this failure.
And Sen. Nelson never flinched from naming who had caused the failure: Congress, because of its immigration policies.
I know from past experiences that many NumbersUSA members, especially in the West, do not think so kindly toward Sen. Nelson because he was the father of the Wilderness Act which they believe unfairly took huge swaths of land out of private control and use.
Our membership is divided about a lot of environmental matters. NumbersUSA does not take a position on any environmental issue other than immigration’s role. Whatever your stance on various governmental efforts to combat environmental problems, we all can be united in the understanding that immigration is creating the double whammy of creating great pressures for more and more regulation to control environmental consequences while negating any positive effects.
Let’s require our Members of Congress to promise not to force the fourth 100 million on us and our children and grandchildren.
Roy Beck is Founder & CEO of NumbersUSA.