Christy Shaw's picture


  by  Christy Shaw

WATER RESHAPES THE WEST — A "mega-drought" across the Southwest will force the federal government to declare a water shortage on the Colorado River this month. The decision would be historic for the watershed, which serves 40 million people in seven states: California, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Colorado and Wyoming. The river system provides irrigation that turns desert into farmland and is an important source of drinking water and hydroelectric power. The looming first-ever declaration will be triggered when the country's largest reservoir, Lake Mead, dips below a certain level. It will force the first mandatory water cuts starting in 2022..." — Catherine Boudreau, Politico (August 3, 2021)

That declaration has now officially been made & here is a rundown of how this is expected to affect millions of lives, homes and businesses, not necessarily just in the West depending on how long the restrictions will ultimately be in force.

So, what does water, or any shortage in natural resources for that matter,
have to do with immigration?

Immigration is the primary driver of population growth in the United States (roughly 90%). Utah is one of seven states to fall within the expected declaration, and is also in the dubious lead for having the highest rate of population growth (18.4%) according to the 2020 Census. It is also where the first city, Oakley, recently mandated a halt to all new growth in construction due to the lack of water. It should be easy to make the connection between a shorter supply of resources and an increasing demand from a rising population. Yet incredibly, this statement in MarketWatch:

I expect that this declaration won't halt growth in the affected states — but growth can no longer be uncontrolled. Increasing water supply is no longer a viable option, so states must turn to reducing demand."

The data from the 2020 Census measuring the size and distribution of the foreign-born population in the United States has yet to be released, though earlier findings from the Census Bureau for Utah do show that the state's foreign-born population has been growing steadily since 1990 and is now about 9% of the overall population. This does not include children born in the U.S. to immigrants, nor does it account for secondary migration of people moving to Utah from other states to escape more crowded and congested areas --Californians being a notable example. Ultimately, one cannot talk about growth anywhere in the U.S. without addressing the number one top down driver and of overall U.S. population growth—immigration.

Sadly, however, this prognosticator in MarketWatch may unfortunately be correct about growth. Efforts to solve the demand problem will not, as they should, be focused on reducing first immigration at the national level. Instead, increasing pressure on local policy-makers is likely to further stretch resource use and allocation among the additional demand of people moving from outside the states to the affected areas.

In the longer-term, the average "Main Street" home and business may eventually suffer as rising costs of living potentially stand to be affected by increased interest in market trading of water. Such a trend ultimately stands to shift water as a traditionally public commodity into tightly controlled corporate and government control. This shift, if it becomes too common, stands to significantly erode local control over resource use and allocation. Federal immigration policies, for their part, play a significant role for the past several decades in intensifying population pressures on the supply and demand conditions of disappearing resources, as well as those which cannot naturally regenerate at a rate keeping pace with such enormous consumer demand increases.

Natural events such as the mega-drought which place incredible strain on the supply of water and all vital natural resources, may have been beyond our human ability to prevent, but what is under our control, especially within our own borders, is the ability to manage the effects of immigration-driven population growth that only add pressure to a boiling pot of increasing, and so far mostly unlimited demand. At the heart of any imbalance between resource supply and demand is having too many consumers competing for those same resources in a given timeframe. And while extraordinary events like a drought will show the negative impacts of a resource deficit more acutely in the moment, scientists since the 1970s have been tracking the planet's and individual countries' steady descent into ecological overshoot. Comparatively, we can see in this similar timeline, data showing steady increases in population to the United States from immigration.

All people, immigrants and Americans alike, must consume to survive. One of the reasons over 750 million people worldwide would choose the United States as their migratory destination is to share in the ability to achieve and sustain the American Dream—a relatively happy, secure and comfortable quality of life for ourselves and our families. This level of consumption from immigrants and native-born alike, places enormous demands on nature, the loss of habitat for wildlife, and vital natural resources such as water, food and energy. How does a call for all to reduce personal consumption make any sense in the face of a simultaneous push to open the borders to millions, even billions more consumers? (Here is one of my personal "favorites" from a progressive "apologist" chiming in only after he enjoyed the typical single family home in his youth, now wanting everyone else to live in tighter, denser spaces)

Many in the mass media and employers pushing for mass immigration policies will offer the argument that we need much more, not less immigration. Some of their favorite false and misleading arguments center around claims that the U.S. population numbers are in sharp decline. They point to falling fertility rates and an aging American workforce that, they say, must be replaced with foreign workers to shore up social security. Former Director of the United Nations Population Division, Joseph Chamie, does an excellent job of debunking these false claims here, and here.

On the environmental and conservation side of the open borders narrative, advocates for mass immigration cherry pick who is a consumer and who is not, usually pretending that only wealthy Americans participate in consumption that damages the lives of residents in other countries, conveniently ignoring that they too not only consume, but many have very high population numbers.

These are some of the most popular and menacing cases made in favor of opening the borders wide to both mass legal and illegal immigration.

In truth, since 2013, the majority of legal migrants coming to the United States are from India, China and the Philippines, having surpassed Mexico as the top sender previously. The majority of these migrants are the more well-off and better educated of their countries of origin. They are neither the poorest of the poor, nor coming because they see themselves characterized as the newly coined media-labeled "climate-migrant." They also are, or quickly become, significantly higher consumers along with most all other migrants, once they arrive to compete with Americans for jobs here in the United States.

March 14 marked the day the United States reached ecological overshoot. It only took less than one quarter of the entire year for us to do so, and every year we arrive at this date earlier.

"Today, most countries, and the world as a whole, are running ecological deficits. In fact, today over 85% of the world population lives in countries with an ecological deficit. The world's ecological deficit is referred to as global ecological overshoot."—

We are taking in hundreds of thousands of immigrants from this 85%. All three of the top sending countries (China, India and the Philippines) are also in ecological overshoot. Draining these and so many other countries' best and brightest does nothing to improve ecological conditions in those regions of the world, yet we do so only to exacerbate our own challenges with resource supply and demand. This makes no sense and ultimately helps very few people anywhere with the exception of the wealthiest elites who push false claims to drive consumption ahead of quality of life for the average hard-working American. Resource depletion in the face of rising consumer competition threatens to dry up the American Dream along with the water in the West.

Reducing immigration won't solve all of our nation's problems, but it is necessary if we have any hope of sustaining the high quality of life we all work so hard to achieve and maintain. Immigration policies must prioritize this national community's needs and interests first.

And as Roy Beck first demonstrated in the 1990s with his gumballs video, mass immigration in the millions, unabated now for decades since, continues to do more harm than good to the quality and sustainability of people and nature here, than it could ever hope to achieve in improving the lives of billions in other countries.

Reducing immigration to sustainable levels is one significant way we can balance the budget on our consumer demand and have an enduring positive impact on nature and the high quality of that American Dream we hope to pass on to future generations.

CHRISTY SHAW is the Member Services Manager for NumbersUSA

Updated: Fri, Sep 3rd 2021 @ 12:45pm EDT

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