As summer interns from Duke University, we have spent most of our summer working on NumbersUSA’s new "Quality of Life" maps indicating where in the country the effects of high immigration and population growth are most acutely felt.
During our time here this summer we have discovered that NumbersUSA's mission to document and communicate immigration's impact on U.S. population growth, the environment, the labor market and local communities is not a novel idea.
Over the past three decades, four major federal commissions have called for U.S. population stabilization to address the economic, social and environmental stresses of population growth via immigration and natural mortality patterns, with increasing focus on the effects of immigration as time progresses. It is astonishing to see the consistency, and the gorwing urgency, of these commissions' bipartisan findings and recommendations over the past three decades. In a report of our research findings we present a brief history of the four commissions' advocacy for population stabilization with respect to immigration policy.
Please allow us to introduce ourselves. We are Jenny Lin and Britney Peguese, current summer interns for NumbersUSA from Duke University. We’re in our final week as NumbersUSA interns and we can both agree that we’ve greatly expanded our own personal knowledge of immigration issues in the country from our working experience this summer with the organization. Jenny is an environmental science major; Britney is a history and psychology major. Our prior knowledge of population issues and immigration policy was not very extensive, to say the least. However, for nearly three months we have been working on projects like the NumbersUSA quality of life maps with the opportunity to research current data on topics such as population, real income based on education, poverty levels, air pollution levels and infrastructure needs at county and state levels. While helping to create the maps with an educational purpose, Jen and I have simultaneously expanded our own knowledge of these topics and their relation to the effects of the immigration-driven US population growth.
As early as 1969, President Nixon ordered the Rockefeller Commission Report on Population Growth and the American Future. After two years, the commission recommended specific policy measures, including several related to immigration, to address population distribution and related population issues in the national interest. The focus then moved directly on the issue of immigration in 1978 as the Select Commission on Immigration and Refugee Policy was implemented to make recommendations on revising the nation's immigration laws. It was one of the first government initiatives to mention a "responsible immigration... policy". The much more extensive US Commission on Immigration Reform in 1990, involved numerous hearings and consultations throughout the nation and abroad. This commission placed even greater emphasis on the importance of government regulation in terms of immigration, the enforcement of said regulations, and the need for international cooperation in order to fully address the issue. Three years later, President Clinton made his contribution to the population issue by establishing the Council on Sustainable Development in 1993. Using data from the Census Bureau, the council saw a solution to the immigration and population problem in a more comprehensive analysis of the US.
We've learned that bipartisan concern about US population growth is not a new pehnomenon. Ever since some economists recommended unchecked population growth in order to sustain the economy, a wide range of concerned citizens and scholarly experts, including other economists, have questioned the wisdom and feasibility of such a recommendation. While the concerns may have shifted in the past few years--from socioeconomic burdens to environmental degradation--the fundamental issue is the same. How can the United States guarantee life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for native and immigrant Americans for generations to come?
BRITNEY PEGUESE and JENNY LIN are summer interns of NumbersUSA and students at Duke University
Updated: Thu, Aug 13th 2009 @ 11:08am EDT