Christy Shaw's picture


  by  Christy Shaw

At a social gathering recently, a friend asked me this question. I would be interested to know how our readers may respond if asked the same or similar question.

I responded, "Yes, with an emphasis on also saying, however…"

Any answer to this question must be quantified and qualified. It must be given by taking into consideration other important factors and asking an equally important question of: "How many people do we sustainably welcome into a finite amount of space in a given timeframe?"

The question of how many people, i.e. new consumers, producers, job seekers, etc. is vitally important for how migration flows affect, positively and negatively, existing populations. After all, don't we all want a reasonably good quality of life and standard of living for everyone who is, or would be living here in the United States?

At face value, and without further clarification, the question about moral obligation tends to come from a well-intended, but often far too simplistic notion based only on a very broad view of what is compassionate and "good." But any decision to act has an impact, positive or negative, on both migrants and citizens and permanent residents (green card holders) alike.

It is necessary to acknowledge and include these potential impacts for both citizens and migrants if we truly are serious about creating policies and laws based on any kind of "moral" standing, however imperfect that will inevitably be. Consequences of what a so-called "moral" obligation looks like in practice, is more complicated than just broadly saying "yes" to the question above and walking away with a feeling of satisfaction that we care and are compassionate.

The question of how many people, i.e. new consumers, producers, job seekers, etc. is vitally important for how migration flows affect, positively and negatively, existing populations. After all, don't we all want a reasonably good quality of life and standard of living for everyone who is, or would be living here in the United States?

So how does one develop an immigration policy that is implemented on "moral grounds?" There are also multiple legal, ethical, and economic factors to consider. Additionally, we must ask if immigration laws and policy should reflect consideration of not just what is moral, but for whom.

The media, and the actions so far of the Biden Administration seem to suggest that the only benefactors to consider on moral grounds are those of migrants. What about the impact that hundreds of thousands of people crossing the border illegally, and millions coming to take jobs legally, has on unemployed, homeless and desperate citizens and immigrants already in the United States? Do we bring in unlimited numbers of new mouths to feed when we still have so much work to do for those suffering within our borders? Doesn't there need to be a balance between the number of people entering the country, legally and illegally, and the number of people with needs and opportunities already here?

I do believe the answer to helping immigrants in need, and bringing some who will contribute to the continued prosperity of our country is unequivocally, "yes." But at this point, that number needs to be significantly lowered. And how many coming to our border, legally or illegally, are truly "desperate?" The fact is, the most desperate, truly most desperate, do not come to the U.S. It's generally the better-off, those with more resources than the poorest, who remain behind. And losing young, able-bodied workers, motivated to come to the U.S., some with college educations and job skills that would be useful in building a better country at home, hurts the desperate among those who do remain. Yet, Americans who think it's our job to make the world a better place through immigration, have little understanding about how it hurts sending countries. Roy's gumballs video demonstrates the futility of such efforts and thinking. And the president of El Salvador is making that same argument right now.

If this seems harsh, let's consider that for decades, previous administrations of both political parties have kicked the proverbial can down the road to avoid dealing with the problem. Instead, they have used incorrect perceptions pushed by the media, and they have capitalized on telling only the parts of the story that suit their self-interests at the time. And so now, here we are in 2021 at 330 million and climbing to a projected 400 million by 2060. And how many of those other countries have we significantly helped by bringing so many of their people here?

A "moral" approach to achieve an equitable, compassionate and workable solution to immigration policy in the United States is only one that recognizes the difficult but now necessary tough choices we are forcing ourselves into by allowing mass immigration to continue for so long.

Some of the numerous potential effects to consider when making any legislative or policy decision about immigraiton may include: loss and use of open spaces to a variety of development, rate and quantity of per capita consumption levels, economic prosperity & disparity among workers (producers) in the labor market, and overall quality of life as determined by the availability and affordability of natural resources, as well as the rate of use and depletion of those resources relative to demand and replenishment. Both immigrants and residents must deal with the downstream negative consequences of inviting too many people at a rate unsustainable while the existing population is also in need. We already have residents who are desperate for even the most basic necessities, and are experiencing a steady decline in standard of living that isn't improving no matter what the stock market is doing.

There are humble, respectful and yet powerfully convincing ways of encouraging more nuanced views on the difficult topic of what to do about immigration. It takes confidence in knowing that we DO care about all people. We DO support welcoming immigrants, but in reasonable, fewer and sustainable numbers. And, it requires more listening and less talking over one another with facts, not selfish and dishonest rhetoric.

I would be most interested to know if any of you have encountered difficult questions about immigration and how you responded. Did it feel like an entrapment of sorts? That you would be judged harshly if you said no? And if you said yes, did you feel instantly compelled to jump into a defensive state of explanations? Don't worry, you're not alone!

Mass media has done an unfortunate, but effective job in making it seem that interrupting speakers and practicing cancel culture on both sides of the aisle is the new norm, and many of our congressional representatives are hiding behind those false facts and narratives to avoid taking necessary bold action on immigration. People have been taught well how to dig into their own trenches and silos on immigration. But we get nowhere by stifling debate and refusing to listen. We also get nowhere by giving up and not speaking up too.

This gets to the heart of why NumbersUSA exists for you!

Let's get back to a more mature, kinder, and fact-based way of convincing others of the truth that right now at least, and for the foreseeable future, America needs less, not more immigration for the good of all.

Let me know how you have encountered difficult questions about immigration out there and how you responded. You can respond here to this blog post, or to my email at Thanks for all you do!

CHRISTY SHAW is the Member Services Manager for NumbersUSA

Updated: Wed, Jun 30th 2021 @ 12:00pm EDT

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