I wrote my first opinion page editorial twelve years ago.
Or, expressed another way, my first Op-ed appeared when California had 7.5 million fewer residents.
Every May, the California Department of Finance releases the latest population data for the state. The same overwhelming numbers are unemotionally announced year after year. For 2001, California's population increased 652,000, bringing the total to more than 35 million. [Califoria DOF official figures—(MS Word.doc, 38k)]
That's about 1, 750 new people each day—a pretty tough number to keep up with.
According to the DOF, population growth is fueled by high levels of both natural increase and net immigration, "the familiar engines of state increase." Net migration accounted for 54% of the growth with births contributing 46% of the new residents.
The DOF cavalierly noted that these data "reflect a general continuation in the amount and pace of the state's growth."
But the DOF, and California's leading daily newspapers, didn't comment on the consequences of a continued 2% annual growth in the state's population.
If you have eyes in your head, you know that California is a train wreck. The U.S. Census Bureau predicts that if current California trends continue, the state will have 50 million residents by 2025. When that awful moment arrives, and it will, Californians will be living more densely than today's residents of China.
At about the same time that the DOF released its grim statistics, Governor Gray Davis weighed in with some bad news of his own. Davis announced that California faces an unparalleled budget deficit of $24 billion.
Davis warned of "painful cuts" in social services and tax increases.
Tim Gage, the director of the state Department of Finance, issued the official Sacramento explanation for the budget deficit: the extraordinary fall of the stock market.
But Gage is only permitted to talk about the most superficial cause of California's headaches. Sure, the steep decline in the NASDAQ is a contributor to California's financial woes.
But Gage and other analysts steadfastly refuse to connect the dots. If (mostly illegal) immigration makes up more than half of the population growth, what impact does that have on the budget shortfall?
And as those immigrants bear children, don't those children continue add to both the population and budget woes of California?
On December 19, 2001, the Lodi News-Sentinel ran a compelling story about California birth patterns. The headline, "Hispanic babies nearly half of all born in state," summarizes the findings of a University of California at Los Angeles study.[PDF]
According to the UCLA report, 47.5% of California babies are Hispanic. Non-Hispanic whites totaled 34%; Asians, 11% and Blacks, 7%.
The story provided much more telling information. In Los Angeles County, 62% of all births were Hispanic. The percentage climbs to 75% in Imperial County adjacent to the Mexican border.
What a coincidence. The closer you get to Mexico, the more Hispanic babies are born. But if the term "anchor babies" means anything to you, then you aren't surprised by the geographic relationship.
All the brand spanking new babies are U.S. citizens even though their parents are illegal aliens. These anchor babies, as U.S. citizens, are immediately entitled to the full plate of social services from cradle to grave.
Allan Wall, a U.S. journalist living in Mexico, has written an excellent essay in Front Page Magazine describing the lunacy of the anchor baby law. To read his entire article click here...
No one has a clue why California taxpayers should foot the delivery costs—and all the future bills—for the children of illegal aliens. Needless to say, no other country in the world has a similar policy.
In fact, in today's upside down America, an anchor baby born in the back of a van just crossing the California border may one day be given preferential treatment over the child of a U.S. Marine fighting terrorism in Afghanistan.
You'll never live to hear Gray Davis say this but those anchor babies are quite a drain on California's finances.
Pre and postnatal care are a drop in the bucket compared to the cost of K-12 education. California currently has 1.5 million English Language Learners in its public school system. The cost to educate them is between $8 and $10 billion annually.
Davis could pare his massive deficit by one-third if he weren't responsible for educating illegal aliens and the children of those aliens.
But since the 9-11 tragedy hasn't moved the federal government very far along in addressing its illegal immigration problem, it's unlikely that a $24 billion California state shortfall or a runaway population problem will be effective either.
Joe Guzzardi [email him], an instructor in English at the Lodi Adult School, has been writing a weekly column since 1988. It currently appears in the Lodi News-Sentinel.