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Immigration’s impact felt in Colorado, as divisions grow over density.

author Published by Jeremy Beck

“Do we want 2-3 times as many people in Colorado, with the attendant crowds, traffic jams, air pollution, water shortages, etc.?” asked former Boulder city council member Steve Pomerance in the Denver Post on March 22. “Or do we want a less populated state?”

Citing NumbersUSA’s poll of likely Colorado voters, Pomerance noted that 9 out of 10 people “desire a future where far fewer people move to the state” and 6 out of 10 want to stop growing completely.

Our study, Disappearing Colorado, found that the Centennial State will not achieve that desired future so long as federal immigration policies add more than 3 million people to the nation every year. Immigration policy accounts for all long-term U.S. population growth nationally. Therefore, immigration policy has both direct and indirect impact on Colorado’s population.

The amount of housing development required to accommodate the projected growth will have “huge impacts in everyday life,” Pomerance argued, specifically citing water and transit challenges.

In response to Pomerance’s column, the Denver Post ran a guest commentary from Brian C. Keegan, a board member of Boulder Progressives. Keegan defended continued growth and development, but used most of his column to disparage NumbersUSA (the authors of our study, specifically) and the polling firm Rasmussen who conducted the Colorado poll.

NumbersUSA’s Scientific Director Leon Kolankiewicz wrote a letter to the editor in response to say that Keegan’s false attack “would be laughable if it weren’t so serious.” Leon continued:

“Roy [Beck] founded NumbersUSA in 1996 to advocate for the solutions proposed by Civil Rights icon Barbara Jordan — chair of the bipartisan U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform. The first southern Black woman elected to Congress, she recommended scaling back legal immigration and cracking down on illegal immigration, in part to increase recruitment and wages of the disproportionately large population of low-income African Americans. Helping that population remains a top initiative of NumbersUSA.

“I’m a former Peace Corps volunteer and a registered Independent who votes mostly for Democrats. I married a Honduran immigrant and have two biracial sons.

“Besides the disinformation in his ad hominem attacks, Keegan attempts to discredit Rasmussen Reports, whose polling found that overwhelming majorities of Colorado voters worry about the sprawl caused by population growth, and that a majority favor reducing immigration levels to temper that growth. He states that the pollster’s “inability to meet polling standards caused ABC News’ 538 to cut Rasmussen from its polling analyses.”

“Conveniently, Keegan omits the facts that Rasmussen has the same lifetime accuracy rating as well-respected pollsters like Morning Consult and Ipsos, and that data guru and FiveThirtyEight founder Nate Silver trashed ABC’s decision to exclude Rasmussen over a ‘political litmus test.'”

To be clear, NumbersUSA takes no position on the specific policy proposals offered by Keegan and Pomerance. It does, however, seem clear to us that the challenges they are debating are only going to be more difficult to solve as long as policymakers and pundits ignore the outsized role that federal immigration policy has on issues like housing, water, and traffic.

NumbersUSA is firmly opposed to immigrant bashing. False charges to the contrary should never be use “to silence a debate about what kind of population and sustainability future the citizens of Colorado want,” writes Kolankiewicz.

“It is up to readers and policy makers to decide” what to think about NumbersUSA’s studies and polling, writes Keegan. On that point, at least, we strongly agree.

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