Cite as "AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 38me9065 (posted Jun. 26, 2000)"
June 26, 2000
Letters to the Editor
The Palm Beach Post
2751 South Dixie Highway, PO Box 24700
West Palm Beach, FL 33416-4700
To The Editor:
Michael Browning is to be congratulated for a well-balanced recent report about a poll by an anti-immigrant group (“Are We Full Yet?,” Oct. 20, 1999). That being, said, Mr. Browning omitted some key facts.
For example, the poll was promoted by FAIR, a notorious anti-immigrant group whose goal is to restrict people from entering this country. The organization’s self-avowed aim is to have a moratorium on virtually all immigration, as a way of reducing the U.S. population. Dan Stein, the organization’s Executive Director, has said “we would encourage people in other countries to have smaller families. Otherwise, they’ll all be coming here, because there’s no room at the Vatican.”
Garrett Hardin, a FAIR emeritus board member, has gone further. Hardin has said come out for killing children “in the historical context,” calling that abominable practice “effective population control.” He has advocated that people be culled like animals. Hardin has argued that American immigration quotas should be inversely proporitional to countries’ ferility rates. In a single interview, Hardin argued against shipping food to starving nations (“In effect, we kept fifty million . . . alive who otherwise would have died”), against helping the sick in developing countries (“ . . poor people may get terrible diseases and suffer great loss, and maybe that touches your heart, but just don’t let it touch your mind”), and for allowing people to die (“If you’re going to limit unequal distribution, you should work at the other end by reducing the number of people who are living a miserable life, which means reducing the number of people who are alive in the next generation”). In a lecture, Hardin said, “Overpopulation can be corrected be means short of homicide and war. That means is attrition, which means seeing to it that the birth rate falls below the death rate. This may be painful, but it is not war.”
Leaving aside the fact that those views are so far outside the mainstream as to be offensive to most people, the immigrants are not overpopulating the U.S. Immigrants are helping the U.S. stave off a fiscal disaster by stabilizing our population. If U.S. fertility rates continue dropping at their present pace, America would actually lose population without immigrants. In the abstract, that may seem like a good thing. But think about it a little more.
Even with new arrivals, the number of people between the ages of 25 and 50 – the prime working age – has dropped by 14% over the past decade. Without immigrants, both the number and percentage of working Americans is expected to decline for at least the next 50 years; one management consultant predicts there will be a 40-year shortage in workers. Simultaneously, the number of elderly will dramatically increase, as the baby boom generation ages. Without the influx of immigrants, the rising ratio of elderly to working young could reduce American living standards by half-a-percent over the next 40 years; by more than 10% between now and 2050. That is because fewer people would be working, producing less in taxes to fund greater and more expensive benefits.
Both Christopher Connor and Dan Stein have repeatedly called for a moratorium on immigrants. If that proposal is enacted, Congress will be faced with three stark choices: dramatically increase taxes to fund medical and retirement benefits for the rising number of elderly; dramatically slash both Medicare and Social Security; or bankrupt the country by paying for continued benefit levels through deficit spending.
Perhaps that is what some supporters of that absurd idea meant when they recently wrote that immigration “is an issue that is not going to go away and we must look honestly at both benefits and costs.”
President, Southern Florida Chapter