Political Editors / Feb. 22, 2019

Are Current Immigration Numbers Too High?

Total immigration numbers are a bigger problem than many care to admit.

It’s no secret that conservatives and, more specifically, President Donald Trump’s supporters are fed up with the federal government’s decades’ long lackluster record in preventing and combating illegal immigration. In fact, Trump’s promise to tackle the problem by constructing a border wall played largely in his winning the election, and it has remained a front-and-center political issue as Democrats aim to obstruct Trump.

One immigration issue that has received less coverage: Questions about the nation’s current legal-immigration numbers. In other words, just how many individuals are immigrating to the U.S. each year, and what impact has this had upon the country overall?

In an article in National Review, Steven Camerota of the Center for Immigration Studies highlights what he sees as the most important immigration issue — that question of numbers. He writes, “The reason numbers are by far the most important immigration issue is that all the effects of immigration stem directly from the scale of immigration — cultural, political, social, economic, and fiscal. And the scale of contemporary immigration is truly enormous. The latest data indicate that there are about 45 million legal and illegal immigrants — roughly 34 million of whom are legal. About 1.7 million new legal and illegal immigrants settle in the country each year. The total number of immigrants (legal and illegal) in the country has doubled since 1990, tripled since 1980, and quadrupled since 1970. As a share of the population, about one in seven U.S. residents is now a legal or illegal immigrant — the highest percentage in 107 years. The Census Bureau projects the immigrant share will surpass the highest level ever in American history in eight years if we choose to continue current policy.”

Camerota argues the two biggest areas of impact for immigration are economic and cultural. On economic impact, he points out, “There is no labor shortage when real wages are no higher now than they were in 1978. Sure, unemployment is historically low, yet most people realize this is not the whole story. … At the end of 2018, 54.3 million working-age Americans (ages 16 to 64, excluding prisoners) were out of the labor force entirely. … The overall labor-force participation rate, the share who are working or looking for work, has not changed that much in recent years, especially for Trump voters — native-born people without a college degree.”

Secondly, the growing problem of too many new immigrants has effectively overwhelmed and slowed down the necessary assimilation process into American culture. Camerota points out that most Trump voters “do not think immigrants are bad people. But they do know in many parts of America now, there are so many immigrants that the incentive to learn English or adopt American culture is greatly reduced.”

This is an issue that needs to be honestly and soberly addressed, not simply written off as the nonsense concerns of bigots and racists, as the mainstream media is quick to do.

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