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Letter to the Editor Re: "Balancing Act" dated November 21, 2000

Cite as "AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 00112140 (posted Nov. 21, 2000)"

November 21, 2001

Mr. Doug Moss
Publisher & Executive Editor
28 Knight Street
Norwalk, CT 06851

Dear Mr. Moss:

Your recent cover story ("Balancing Act," November-December 2000) is nothing more than a one-sided demographic spin using old allegations against immigrants, with your reporter quoting only from prominent anti-immigrant groups. Not once did the article cite opinions from any organization advocating on behalf of immigrants. That’s not quite a "balancing act."

Your article also did not mention any of the positive contributions of immigrants. Leading economists, including Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, have pointed out that immigrants contribute to our economy, help to sustain the longest-lasting economic boom in American history, help stabilize Social Security and Medicaid, and create jobs and establish businesses. Your article also ignores the major contributions immigrants have made and are continuing to make in our arts and sciences.

The key concern in your article highlights population density. As even the one-sidded article noted, with projected immigration, the U.S. will have one-quarter the population density of England and Great Britain. In other words, we will not be over-run by people and still will have plenty of virgin land. The authors conveniently did not mention that the current level of immigration is one-third the level experienced during the early 1920s, and during that period the U.S. was not over-burdened.

Your article also casts immigration as an environmental issue. The environmental challenges facing this nation are caused not by immigrants, but our own behavior. Who is to blame for our dirty air, immigrants or Americans and our fabled love of the automobile? Who is to blame for urban and suburban sprawl, immigrants or America’s culture of the shopping mall, strip mall and big-box retail?

The article also does not reveal that many of the groups quoted (the Federation for American Immigration Reform, Negative Population Growth, the Center for Immigration Studies and Numbers USA) subscribes to the discredited theories of Thomas Malthus, the 18th Century English clergyman who predicted that the world’s food supply soon would fail to keep pace with its rising population. These same groups also are notoriously anti-immigrant.

Take, for example, the Federation for American Immigration Reform. The Federation was founded by John Tanton, who has called a 1973 novel, The Camp of the Saints, "prophetic." The book, republished by Social Contract Press, which is he heads, portrays France being overrun by Indians and Asians, and urges readers to "repulse the invasion and destroy the invader. Assuming, that is, that we are willing to murder —with or without regret- a million helpless wretches." The Federation would revoke the post-Civil War 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and deny citizenship to people born in the US, allow the federal government to seize the property of legal immigrants, refuse to grant refugee status to people fleeing civil war and natural disasters, install fences along the U.S.-Mexican border, and not allow refugees or immigrants to work in the U.S.

Your reporter also quotes Roy Beck of Numbers USA, another prominent anti-immigrant group. Mr. Beck is the author of The Case Against Immigration, serves an editor at Tanton’s Social Contract Press.

Our nation and planet will continue to confront environment and population issues, and will do so successfully only if we deal with the causes. We wish that you had not allowed certain groups and people to use these legitimate concerns to cloak their anti-immigrant agenda.


Margaret A. Catillaz