A number of recent Washington Post stories about growth in our DC-area counties struck me as sharply ironic. Our leaders and our mass media are crying out for "green" behavior from us all—you know, recycling, less petroleum use, etc., But the massive immigration-driven demographic change relentlessly predicted by VDARE.com and others continues right on target, and will overwhelm all our efforts.
Many officials in these counties expressed surprise at these new numbers. I can only wonder why. My late friend, the Californian demographer Meredith Burke , often asked: "If we are going to double the population of the USA shouldn't we at least have a debate about it?" But our leaders never have allowed a full, rational debate over how many do we need.
We know that the cheap labor business crowd has teamed up with the Catholic Church and the ethnic lobbyists such as La Raza and LULAC to push for more and people,—who happen to be largely of Hispanic origin.
The ethnicity question has never been my concern. I fear any kind of discriminatory racism. My position has always focused on utility, need, and therefore numbers. And we have long ago overshot our needs by millions and millions.
I am a long-time liberal Democrat focused on social issues such as family planning. I believe this widely-held business belief that growth is good and more growth is better has long been proven fallacious. Over a million work visas were issued to immigrants this past year and for many prior years, despite our Great Recession which many see going on for a long time.
Displacing our own citizens to satisfy the cheap labor greed of special interests is an old game. You know, business makes the profit and lays the externalities on the taxpayers.
The Economist's dictionary describes an externality as a cost which can arise when people engaged in economic activity do not have to take into account the full costs of what they are doing. For instance, car drivers do not have to bear the full cost of exacerbating global warming, even though their actions may one day impose a huge burden on society. One way to reduce externalities is to tax them, say, through a fuel tax. Another is outright prohibition—say, limiting car drivers to one gallon of fuel per week.
All this has to do with limits. How many people, how much consumption? And who pays the bill? As these floods of immigrants arrive, the young and strong get enslaved at poor wages, creating profits for their employers. But the cost down the road, as they and their children use our tax-supported services, is the mechanism that has put 49 of our 50 states into a budget deficit position.
Now the new House majority talks of cutting costs. Not very hard. But mentioned first are the Environmental Protection Agency and other important benefits to the poor, while CEO payrolls rollick to new heights. Certainly not enough to pay down our debt, which is now north of $14 trillion (up from under $1 trillion in 1981) or even to reduce our annual deficit by a meaningful amount.
The most obvious action we can take now raises the inevitable objection from businesses. The Post's February 11, 2011 Washington Business headline says, As lawmakers look at E-Verify, businesses fear expansion of immigration program. [By Shankar Vedantam] Of course they fear expansion of E-Verify—they're employing illegals.
Fortunately, Elton Gallegly, the new chairman of the immigration subcommittee, has put E-verify at the top of his list, saying "making [E-Verify] universally mandatory would ease the cumbersome and easily manipulated I-9 process employers now use to screen employees. It would also greatly reduce the number of illegal immigrants in the American workforce."
WAPo's Vedantam explains:
"Gallegly was referring to the I-9 form, which employers must have job-seekers fill out. It requires documentation, such as a Social Security number, that the applicants are eligible to work in this country. With E-Verify, employers can run the information through federal databases to confirm it or identify people who are not legally authorized to work."
Naturally Randel Johnson, senior vice president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and thus the representative of that implacable enemy of our 20 plus million unemployed or underemployed citizens, complained: "I have a real mixed reaction from my members. Some find it workable, and others do not."
We could easily make sure it is "workable"—by making it mandatory, with fines for failing to use it against executives personally.
In our present techie age, Johnson's statement, "With some companies, it is the logistical problem of having a computer on your construction site" (to run the online queries) is truly laughable. And what does Johnson mean by this sentence?—"If you are running a small business, there is aversion to a new system that will make things more complicated."
Vedantam reported an encouraging case in point:
"The fast food company Chipotle Mexican Grill was recently asked to turn over I-9 information about employees at 60 Washington and Virginia restaurants to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. The chain was forced to fire suspected illegal workers at its Minnesota restaurants after a similar probe. Chipotle spokesman Chris Arnold said that restaurants in Arizona and the Carolinas currently use the E-Verify system and that the company is weighing whether to expand its participation in the program nationwide."
Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Tex.), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, noted the Pew Hispanic Center's estimate that "7 million people are working in the U.S. illegally. These jobs should go to legal workers."
I have not ever been a fan of the Washington Post's immigration reporting. But this article had the integrity to tell its readers
"Independent analyses of the E-Verify program by the Government Accountability Office and a Maryland research group known as Westat show that the overwhelming majority of those legally allowed to work in the country are quickly approved. A thriving market in fake Social Security numbers, however, means that the program fails to spot many undocumented immigrants.
"To deter fraud, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services agency, which runs E-Verify, is increasingly using passports and employment-authorization documents that contain photo identification, said spokesman Chris Bentley. New efforts are underway, he added, to spot applicants who proffer fake driver's licenses."
Again, WaPo surprised me by printing this quote:
" 'Critics of E-Verify claim illegal immigrants hold jobs that Americans won't do. But even in the agriculture industry, where amnesty supporters insist we need illegal workers, 50 percent of the agriculture jobs are held by U.S. citizens and legal immigrants,' [Lamar] Smith said. 'And if farmers really need foreign labor, they can get it legally—we have a guest worker program for agricultural workers that has no numerical limit.."
The growth of legal and illegal immigrants in our country since 1965, for no good reason except greed, represents a government failure. It could be fixed, but like our national debt and current deficits that seems always to be deferred for our children and grandchildren.
The ultimate irony—we claim we love them. But what are we leaving them?
Donald A. Collins [email him], is a freelance writer living in Washington DC and a former long time member of the board of FAIR, the Federation for American Immigration Reform. His views are his own.