There are 135 million reasons to change our approach to immigration.
When the Census Bureau released its new population projections last month, most of the media focused on the country's changing racial composition. But this was almost certainly not the most important finding. The projections show that the U.S. population will grow by 135 million in just 42 years -- a 44 percent increase. Such growth would have profound implications for our environment and quality of life. Most of the increase would be a direct result of one federal policy -- immigration. If we reduced the level of immigration, the projections would be much lower. The question we have to ask ourselves is: Do we want to be a much more densely settled country?
Native-born Americans have only about two children on average, which makes for a roughly stable population over time. But with an estimated 1.5 million legal and illegal immigrants settling in the country each year, and about 900,000 births to these immigrants each year, immigration directly and indirectly accounts for at least three-fourths of U.S. population growth.
An increase of 135 million people by 2050 is equivalent to the entire populations of Mexico and Canada moving here.
The United States may well decide to continue to allow the settlement of 1.5 million immigrants (legal and illegal) each year. But legal immigration is a federal program like any other and could be reduced below the 1 million currently allowed to enter annually. Greater resources could also be devoted to reducing illegal immigration. It's important to understand that the new projections show us one possible future. We must decide as a country if this is the future we want.