More immigration will test U.S. economy, unity



Last month, then President-elect Barack Obama ’91 nominated Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano to head the Department of Homeland Security – despite the fact that she has actively opposed many measures to secure our borders, and has consistently advocated both amnesty for illegal immigrants and guest worker visas. This clearly signals Obama’s desire to maintain high immigration levels, a position which will hurt all Americans economically, and further divide this nation.

The U.S. population has quadrupled since 1900. If our population growth continues at the rate of the last 10 years, even without immigrant amnesty, we will approach India’s current population within the lifetimes of our grandchildren, and current minorities will become the majority. Such drastic demographic, cultural and political shifts will bring clashes and resentment.

According to Census data, Hispanics have surpassed black Americans in numbers and growth rates. The Asian population has also exploded. Since tensions do exist even within people of the same ethnic group, racial violence may escalate, especially in the context of a recession in which over 10 million Americans of diverse racial backgrounds are out of work. Competition for jobs and other resources will only strain race relations with three million more people added to the U.S. population every year.

Revs. Jeremiah Wright, Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and many other black leaders feel deeply that black Americans have been mistreated by their white countrymen. They believe that increased immigration will help black Americans rise. Yet the “Rainbow Coalition” will not work: liberal news networks have reported tremendous tensions between blacks and Latinos because many blacks see increasing economic and political losses to Latinos as the latter’s numbers grow.

Americans concerned about racial harmony should heed Mexican-American Professor Armando Navarro of the University of California at Riverside, who has organized many rallies to oppose measures to curb illegal immigration. On July 7, 2007, the L.A. Times quoted him saying that “a new majority is forming. Everything will change. The White House will be within our reach…We are only doing what any good Jew would do for Israel.” Many open border advocates of Mexican descent have publicly claimed that the American Southwest is “stolen land.”

Euro-Americans have been told to “go back to Europe.” Some black American students in a high school in Los Angeles were reportedly told by their Latino peers to “go back to Africa.” In 1999, according to the L.A. Times, pro-immigrant Norman Bernstein, then principal of an elementary in San Fernando Valley, California, was beaten “unconscious” by Latino men who told him: “We don’t want you here any more, white principal”. Hispanic parents in his school had circulated petitions demanding that he be replaced by a Spanish speaker.

If our next President successfully pushes for “comprehensive immigration reform” – amnesty for at least 12 million illegal migrants and a considerable number of “guest worker” visas – 120 million more people will become relatives of legalized people and “guest workers”. Many will be born in the U.S., others will be eligible for citizenship. They will become potential voters, use energy, and need jobs, health care, education and other costly social services. Even trillions of dollars of economic stimulus plans may not provide enough jobs for those newcomers. The U.S. is already bankrupt, and many states are desperately awaiting federal aid. It will be irresponsible to continue to massively borrow from China and other nations to finance our current and future needs.

Furthermore, our immigration laws will not be seriously enforced if millions of newly legalized individuals become eligible voters. During the massive pro-amnesty demonstrations in 2006, many protesters pressured the U.S. for amnesty and other demands identical to the pressure placed on the U.S. by the Mexican government. They have publicly warned: “Today we march. Tomorrow we vote.” According to The Hill, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus has formally asked President-elect Obama to consider a number of Hispanic legislators for his Cabinet.

For the sake of all legal residents, President-elect Obama should advocate some sort of immigration moratorium. Our immigration laws should also be enforced across the board, so that we can put welfare recipients, non-violent prison inmates and other unemployed low-skilled Americans to work in jobs currently held by illegal workers.

The above steps will save tens of billions of dollars a year by decreasing the need for social services and unemployment benefits. Part of the savings can pay for rebuilding our infrastructure without adding to the already $11 trillion national debt. Fewer foreign-born children in our schools would allow us to focus on teaching our kids the three Rs and other skills needed to compete in this global economy. Furthermore, affirming English as our official language and eliminating “bilingual education” could help unify this multilingual nation.

The fate of this nation is in the hand of our new President. May wisdom andforesight dictate his immigration policy.

Yeh Ling-Ling is executive director of the Alliance for a Sustainable USA.. The publication of this op-ed does not reflect the opinion of the Harvard Law Record.

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