Joe Guzzardi, 1/31/2018 [Archive]

Trump, Congress Ignore Unsustainable Population Growth

Trump, Congress Ignore Unsustainable Population Growth

By Joe Guzzardi


In his State of the Union address, President Trump proposed a four-pillar immigration plan that would include ending chain migration. Unfortunately, he didn't specify when his plan would end the chain, an understandable evasion since it would continue under the deal he's pursuing for 15 to 20 years.

During those years, the four million prospective immigrants on the backlogged waiting list would eventually enter, and as lawful permanent residents would be able to compete with American citizens in the labor market.

Ironically, later in his address, President Trump pledged that his administration would develop job training programs for America's vulnerable: "Let us invest in workforce development and job training. Let us open great vocational schools so our future workers can learn a craft and realize their full potential."

Adding legally authorized workers to the economy, as the president is content doing, and continuing to import foreign-born workers on employment-based visas while offering a fig leaf of job training programs is indefensible. In his administration's first year, President Trump has made little mention of reducing employment-based visas.

The overall deleterious effect of chain migration, however, isn't limited only to expanding the labor market. Chain migrants, once in the United States, become not only goods and services buyers, which endears them to immigration expansionists, but also consumers of precious, irreplaceable natural resources - America's habitat and ecosystems.

As the new arrivals settle, their presence requires that undeveloped land be used for housing, schooling, health care facilities, governmental services, streets, parking and waste disposal, as well as to construct places to work, shop and worship. More people means more sprawl, and an eroding quality of life for all.

To accommodate the growing population, in the 21st century's first decade, developers cleared, then paved over about 10 million acres of natural habitat and farmland. In the early 1980s, the contiguous 48 states had 1.9 acres of cropland for every American. By 2010, that had shrunk to 1.2 acres. If current immigration-driven population growth and per capita land use continue, government projections indicate that cropland would be reduced to just 0.7 acres per American by 2050.

Stabilizing population should be a bipartisan issue. Historically, both sides of the aisle have embraced slowing population. In 1993, for example, President Bill Clinton established the Population and Consumption Task Force which was asked "to bring people together to meet the needs of the present without jeopardizing the future." The task force that included 25 industry, government and nongovernmental organization leaders found that immigration is a major contributor to population growth.

Task force participants acknowledged that, as a part of public debate, immigration is a "sensitive and explosive" issue, but urged that a reasoned discussion of immigration's consequences and the benefits that less immigration would have on the American future begin immediately. According to the task force, "reducing current immigration levels is a necessary part of working toward sustainability in the United States."

The five-decade pattern of urban sprawl, less and less available land for Americans to enjoy and for wildlife to thrive in is unsustainable. The federal government's mission should be to conserve and to bequeath a better America to future generations. A return to the goals spelled out in environmental legislation, including the 1970 Clean Air Act, the 1972 Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act of 1973, largely abandoned, would help save America from further sprawl and vanishing wildlife that a reckless White House and Congress continuously perpetuate.

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Joe Guzzardi is a Progressives for Immigration Reform writer and researcher. Contact him at jguzzardi@pfirdc.org. Find him on Twitter @joeguzzardi19.

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