Overpopulation: Illegal immigration is about more than ethnic identity

The facts of illegal immigration disprove the fictions that politicians trade in. Photo: Associated Press

OCALA, Fla., December 13, 2013 — Illegal immigration is almost always treated as a political issue. Ethnic and racial identity are constant, intrusive and divisive elements of the discussion.

The issue is about far more than the politics of race, however.


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“For NPG, immigration is strictly about the numbers,” says Craig Lewis, the executive director of Negative Population Growth. “It is not a leading contributor — it is THE leading contributor to our nation’s population growth. Studies have shown that immigration — legal, illegal, and the children born to immigrants — is responsible for 80 percent of U.S. population growth.  

“America has an estimated population of over 11 million undocumented immigrants, with some estimates ranging to nearly 20 million. Each year, we permit over one million legal immigrants to arrive. The average immigrant family (regardless of race, ethnicity, creed, religion, or nation of origin) has more children than the average American-born citizen, and the children of those immigrants also tend to have larger families. 

“The fact is simple: The United States must slow, halt, and eventually reverse our population growth to preserve an enjoyable quality of life for future generations. To do so, we must reduce our immigration levels.”

Jo Wideman, the executive director of Californians for Population Stabilization, explains that “overpopulation is a fact, not a myth.  


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“Human innovations — medicines and antibiotics, fertilizers, pesticides and irrigation, exploitation of fossil fuels, the Green Revolution, etc. — have allowed for a higher standard of living and quality of life for most of the world’s 7.2 billion inhabitants. And these advances have occurred in spite of a global population that quadrupled over the last century, and grows by 80 million annually. 

“These increases in human numbers and overall rates of resource and energy consumption are not, however, sustainable. They have taken place at great ecological cost, enabled by the ongoing depletion of non-renewable natural resources, over-exploitation of renewable natural resources, and the accelerating degradation and disruption of environments — air, water, lakes, ocean, atmosphere, climate — upon which the modern industrialized human economy, and indeed civilization itself, depends.

“To believe that the human capacity for innovation is infinite, and that therefore human populations can grow infinitely, is to believe in fairy tales. It is to believe in a parallel universe in which we live on a flat earth, because only a flat earth extending infinitely in all directions — as opposed to a round earth, which is bounded and finite — could support a human population that never stopped growing.”

Approaching illegal immigration from a population stabilization perspective can be difficult.   During the 1960s and ‘70s, overpopulation was a mainstream political issue. Since then, though, both the left and the right have come to ignore it.


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“As America continues to ignore the problem of overpopulation, our size continues to grow larger and our resources continue to dwindle,” says NPG’s Lewis. “Our infrastructure decays, unemployment rises, our roads and hospitals become more crowded, our environment continues to deteriorate, schools and universities become more expensive and more competitive for our young people, and more of our green spaces vanish. 

“At some point, it is inevitable — we will reach ‘critical mass’  in our population size. We will be forced to address the situation, and we will have to make difficult decisions as a nation. Under those circumstances, elected officials will have no choice but to take a position on the issues. We can only hope that, once they begin to face reality, it won’t be too late.”

Urban designer and public policy analyst Michael E. Arth says that “American politicians spend half their time begging for money from the business interests who control public policy, and the rest of the time giving their paymasters what they want while pretending to represent the people.

“People who sell stuff want a growing pool of consumers, so it’s not in their perceived self-interest to support low birth rates. Also, some think we need a constantly growing population so the young can take care of the old. The information explosion, robotics and people living indefinitely long (while remaining youthful) will eliminate this problem, while also exacerbating the overpopulation problem.”

Illegal immigration and population growth are closely linked issues that are crucial to our long-term viability as a nation. To treat them as a matter of race, fairness, and an opportunity for political advantage trivializes the enormous problems facing us and is short-sighted.


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Joseph Cotto

Joseph F. Cotto is a social journalist by trade and student of history by lifestyle choice. He hails from central Florida, writing about political, economic, and social issues of the day. In the past, he was a contributor to Blogcritics Magazine, among other publications. He is currently at work on a book about American society.

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