Immigration is in the news again because of a recent wave of Central American refugees being held in makeshift detention centers near the border. I consider myself a progressive and a liberal on many issues, but on this one my progressive and liberal friends have gotten it so wrong for so long that they need to do a dramatic 180-degree turnaround and face reality.
Let me start by saying that race should play no part in this discussion. Constantly harping on racial issues seems to be the only argument that liberals put forward anymore to support their knee-jerk embrace of ever increasing legal and illegal immigration. Because they lack facts to support the contention that large numbers of immigrants actually help the US be a better country, they instead label anyone who disagrees with their view as a racist. Unfortunately, because liberals are so deathly afraid of being labeled racist, that usually ends the argument.
Immigration is not a racial issue. It is an environmental issue and a fair labor issue. I do not want to end immigration into the US, but I do want to substantially decrease it. Instead of allowing 1,000,000 immigrants into the country legally each year we should reduce that number to about 200,000. Instead of throwing up our hands in despair that 500,000 undocumented workers cross the border each year, we should aggressively target those US citizens who employ them with stiff penalties including fines and jail time for employing illegal workers. And yes, we should deport those who have broken US immigration laws and send them home.
We spend tax dollars every day to pursue and prosecute those who break other laws, and those who break immigration laws should not be exempt from paying the penalty for their actions. If this impacts their loved ones than they should have thought of that before breaking the law. We separate criminals from their families all the time when they break our laws, and immigrants should not be excused from paying the price for their actions even when their families are negatively affected.
Immigration is a game of winners and losers. A person seeking a better life benefits from coming to America; she is a winner in the immigration struggle. A wealthy American business owner exploits immigrant labor to increase his profits; he, too, is a winner. But there are losers, too.
An American citizen can’t find a job because a person from another country will work cheaper. That American worker is now a loser in the immigration struggle. An American environmentalist wants to save a wetland from being drained or a river from being dammed, but alas, more people means more destruction of the environment, so she too is a loser in the immigration struggle.
The rosy picture liberals paint of immigration is terribly one-sided. They point to the $10 billion in annual taxes paid by immigrants as proof that they are a boon to the economy, always neglecting to mention the $20 billion in services (schools, hospitals, courts, highways, etc.) that they receive in return for those dollars. Ask a teacher in the LA Unified School District how many immigrants are benefiting from this country’s largesse. For that matter, ask an emergency-room doctor, a public defender, a sheriff’s deputy, or anyone who works at a free clinic.
I don’t believe it is worth the tradeoff just to ensure that wealthy Americans get their pools cleaned cheaper. American wages have stagnated or declined every year for the last 40 years. To argue that the explosion in legal and illegal immigration over the last 40 years has not contributed to this stagnation is to deny the simple facts of supply and demand economics. But economics aren’t the only important reason to oppose high levels of immigration.
America is one of a dwindling number of countries that still have some wild spaces left, some mountains, forests and wetlands that remain unspoiled. The good news is Americans have stabilized our population so that it is no longer growing. The bad news? Because of immigration and the exponential rise in population that inevitably results from it, we are on track to double our population by the end of the century from 320 million to 650 million. (Some estimates are much higher.)
You can recycle cans and drive a Prius all you want, my environmentally conscious friends, but if we do not stop this trend than every single dam and pipeline and drilling project you oppose is going to get done and no amount of sign carrying and chanting Kumbaya is going to change that.
Liberals and progressives need to wake up. If you care about wage fairness and the environment, you must oppose high immigration levels, both legal and illegal. We can’t eat ice cream and get thin, and we can’t increase immigration and have it improve the USA. We can’t have it both ways as much as we would like to.
It is important that we keep our compassion, that we do what we can to make the world a better place. But high levels of immigration make America a worse place—not because of anything to do with race, creed, color, or religion, but because of these uncomfortable facts about labor and the environment, issues my liberal friends used to care about before they started dedicating all their time to proving they aren’t racist.
Progressives—wake up on immigration or become irrelevant.