In every traffic-choked, infrastucture-stressed, park-congested, school-overcrowded community of the land, Americans live with the same fear: that their quality of life will forever deteriorate under an inevitable, never-ending population explosion. Woods, brooks, and fields at the edge of town that once helped soothe their souls have been cleared, scraped, paved, and built on. Every ride or hike through countryside near the new urban edges is like a walk through a hospital ward for the terminally ill – the days of these nearby open spaces are numbered.
U.S. population grows by 3 million a year. That, according to federal data, is roughly half the cause of the destruction of 2.2 million acres of natural habitat and farmland each year. But the relentless deterioration is not inevitable – government has the power to correct this.
With native-born Americans adopting a slightly-below-replacement-level fertility since 1972, the only cause of long-term U.S. population growth is immigration and the high fertility of immigrants. For three decades the federal government has increasingly sabotaged the American people’s dreams for environ-mental quality by snowballing total immigration over traditional numbers by 400-700%.
Lest anybody misunderstand, the immigrants themselves are not to blame. Rather, the responsibility for environmental damage rests with the officials who have set and allowed the unprecedented immigration levels.
Some supporters of high population growth contend that immigrants can’t cause sprawl because they are so poor and huddle in crowded urban tenements. Federal data, however, show that the majority of immigrants live in the suburbs. Many construct housing in the rural strip around the suburbs. Many more buy existing suburban houses from American natives who would not otherwise have the money to construct their houses on the rural edge. The children of immigrants flee the urban core cities at exactly the same rate as the children of natives. For many reasons, massive immigration drives massive destruction of natural habitat.
America at the first Earth Day in 1970 was filled with 203 million people and now has grown by another 90 million. The Census Bureau projects that current immigration policies will drive our population to 420 million by 2050, nearly three times the 1950 number. We can stop that from happening and allow for a decent quality of life for America’s future human, animal, and plant inhabitants.
– Roy Beck, B.J. (Journalism)
Executive Director, NumbersUSA.com
Author of The Case Against Immigration: The Moral, Economic, Social, and Environmental Reasons for Reducing US Immigration Back to Traditional Levels (Norton).
1. Roy Beck, Leon Kolankiewicz, and Steven Camarota, “Outsmarting Smart Growth; Population Growth, Immigration, and the Problem of Sprawl,” Center for Immigration Studies, August, 2003. In just the 15 years from 1982 to 1997, America converted approximately 25 million acres (39 thousand square miles) of rural land – forests, rangeland, pastures and cropland – to developed land. These losses occurred at an average rate of 1.7 million acres per year. And according to the U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), which has conducted these inventories of the nation’s ecologically productive land base every five years since 1982, in the 1990s the rate at which rural land was developed accelerated, rising to about 2.2 million acres per year.
2. Short-term population growth, especially covering the next couple of decades, can be heavily influenced by the “population momentum” of previous growth. For example, even though native fertility has been below replacement level since 1972, it still will provide several millions more population growth over the next couple of decades because of population momentum from the high fertility of the 1950s and 1960s. Essentially, the granddaughters of the girls born during the Baby Boom of the 1950s and 1960s will need to age out of child-bearing years before that earlier Baby Boom stops producing population growth. Thus, native fertility is a significant – although not major – cause of “short-term population growth” in the U.S. But “long-term population growth” (three decades or more down the line) will include virtually no growth resulting from the native fertility of today. The population momentum of the above-replacement-level fertility before 1972 will have run out. Virtually all population growth over the “long-term” will be the result of post-1970 immigration and high immigrant fertility.
3. U.S. Census Bureau. 1998. Current Population Survey. March. Of immigrants who arrived in the 1990s, 44 percent lived in central cities. That compares to 23 percent for natives. But it also means that 56 percent of new immigrants lived outside central cities.
4. Only 31 percent of adult children (21 and over) of immigrants live in the nation’s central cities. This falls to 28 percent for those over age 35 and compares to 27 percent for all American natives. For the children of immigrants who have settled down and purchased a home, only 24 percent have done so in the nation’s central cities. Figures are based on analysis of the March 1998 Current Population Survey collected by the Census Bureau. Figures for the children of immigrants are for all persons born in the United States who have reported in the Survey that their mother was born in another country.
5. U.S. Census Bureau. 2000. “Annual Projections of the Total Resident Population as of July 1: Middle, Lowest, Highest, and Zero International Migration Series, 1999 to 2000.” Middle Range Projections.