Who Said It?
"Slower population growth, including less legal immigration and stopping illegal immigration, would reduce pressures on the environment and the depletion of resources as well as gain time to find solutions to the nation's problems."
A) Former director of the U.N. Population Division Joseph Chamie? Or
B) Fox News host Tucker Carlson?
The answer is....
...A) Chamie - but it's a trick question, since both commentators are asking big questions about our immigration-driven population policy.
"How big do we want to be?" is a pretty basic question that - like so many fundamental questions - gets short shrift among pundits and politicians who rarely look beyond the daily news cycle. "Bigger" is not an answer. Carlson suggests that the world of forever growth "cannot last."
Chamie suggests it will not last, but nations who embrace stabilization will sooner "address problems such as climate change, environmental degradation, poverty, homelessness, extreme socio-economic inequalities and human rights abuses."
When it comes to "interminable population growth that benefits some people at the expense of human wellbeing and sustainability," as Chamie puts it, there are a lot of hucksters with media platforms, and they're selling mass immigration (not moderated immigration - mass immigration).
Population growth in the U.S. slowed but added another 20 million Americans over the last decade. That's the equivalent of adding another two Los Angeles counties.
The benefits of an immigration policy that prioritizes per capita prosperity over GDP include higher wages, longer productive lives, more intergenerational caregiving among families, shorter commutes, and more breathing room.
None of this would prevent the United States from accepting our fair share of internationally recognized refugees. As Jonette Christian writes, it's a question of limits:
[W]e want to be generous to asylum applicants, but how generous? Some would insist that our values and our history as a nation compel us to accept all people who are fleeing intolerable situations. But Gallup reports that 158 million people want to resettle in the US. We clearly cannot assimilate even a fraction of that. A limit is needed, and Congress needs to decide the most humane way to enforce it.
And finally, since immigration accounts for nearly all our population growth, we need to consider how numerous to make ourselves in light of our growing homelessness, shrinking water tables, and the need to reduce carbon emissions."
Recent reduction bills would reset annual immigration to the level it was in the 1980s, back when the big questions were still being considered by the mainstream media. In 1981, The New York Times editorial board wrote: "Unlimited immigration was a need, and a glory, of the undeveloped American past. Yet no one believes America can still support it. We must choose how many people to admit, and which ones."
I can't imagine the Times' editorial board writing something like that today. But if people with as different backgrounds and personalities as Chamie and Carlson are raising these questions, perhaps it is not too much to hope that the time for these conversations is coming around once again.JEREMY BECK is the Director of the Sustainability Initiative for NumbersUSA
Updated: Wed, Feb 9th 2022 @ 4:49pm EST