I admit right up front that when the subject is immigration, I’m what the media loves to call a “hardliner.” When or why journalists came to embrace hardliner as their preferred word to describe Americans who believe in enforcing immigration law, I’m not sure. But I’m certain that reporters and their editors rarely miss an opportunity to use the pejorative hardliner in a not-too-subtle attempt to condemn those of us who feel that laws must be obeyed.
How I became a hardliner is easy to explain. Americans have had little say in the immigration policies that the federal government has imposed. Even though immigration affects every aspect of citizens’ lives, the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act and the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act, which both contributed hugely to Americans’ job displacement and the nation’s unsustainable population growth, were negotiated behind Congress’ closed doors, passed and signed with great media fanfare. The one time I voted directly on immigration, in 1994 on California’s successful Proposition 187 that would have reasonably limited some benefits to illegal immigrants, then-Governor Gray Davis conspired with the courts to overturn it.
On average, more than one million legal, employment-authorized immigrants have arrived every year for more than two decades. The historically high immigration level has immeasurably hurt American workers. Most severely penalized are the underskilled and undereducated. Even two prominent immigration expansionists recognize the relationship between high immigration and stagnant wages: former President Barack Obama and Nobel Prize winner Paul Krugman. In his book, the “Audacity of Hope,” Obama wrote that record immigration “threatens to depress further the wages of blue-collar Americans.” Krugman, citing supply and demand principles, said that “immigration reduces the wages of domestic workers who compete with immigrants.”
Keeping the borders wide open and having more than a half million non-immigrant visa guest workers employed at jobs Americans allegedly won’t do has also economically hurt Americans who once worked in manual labor or in the service industry.
If only Obama had followed through with what he knew instead of promoting more immigration, more refugees and amnesty during his two terms, maybe 95 million Americans wouldn’t be detached from the labor force, many of them displaced by immigrant workers. The last Bureau of Labor Statistics jobs report, the final one of Obama’s presidency, showed that the number of Americans not actively in the labor force increased by 14.6 million, or 18 percent, since January 2009. During Obama’s last year, immigrant employment rose 38 percent faster than native employment.
As for immigration-driven population growth, the topic remains taboo on both sides of the aisle. Researchers, however, are willing to explore what the current immigration rate means to population. The Pew Research Center’s U.S. population projections found that if current immigration demographic trends continue, future immigrants and their descendants will be the major source of population growth. Between 2015 and 2065, immigrants and their children are projected to account for 88 percent of the U.S. population increase, or 103 million people, as the nation grows to 441 million. For a California guy who has photos in his family album of my parents, siblings and me on Santa Monica Beach without another soul in sight, the very idea of 441 million is frightening.
As said at the outset, I readily acknowledge that I’m an immigration hardliner —- a proud, uncompromising, absolutist about enforcing laws for the common good of working Americans, and future generations that deserve to live in an environment with a stabilized population.
Joe Guzzardi is a Californians for Population Stabilization Senior Writing Fellow. Contact him at email@example.com and on Twitter @joeguzzardi19.