Knee Jerking Our Way to Oblivion on Immigration

By Donald A. Collins | 4 November 2014
Progressives for Immigration Reform

(Credit: YouTube / screengrab)

Recently while dining with a sophisticated reporter who would certainly be considered liberal by the usual benchmarks of such designations, she said to me, “well, all I have to know is where you stand on family planning and I can tell how you will vote on every other contentious issue which divides conservatives and liberals.” She went on to mention gun control, climate change, gay marriage, and immigration reform.

This statement is not a new one, but like the terms “liberal” and “conservative,” it often dismisses the nuanced perceptions of those who dub themselves generally one way or the other. In short, like any well-worn anecdotal theory, when subject to rigorous examination, this theory proves significantly off the mark.

In my own case, as a “liberal” on many issues, I often find myself closely associated with both labeled partisans who surprise me with their liberality and, yes, their conservative views on subjects which they deem opposite to the positions associated with their peers.

For example, having worked for women’s reproductive rights for nearly 50 years, here is my solution as detailed in an essay in a recently published book, Facing the Population Challenge (ISBN 978 0692212271): “Insure the human rights of all women by providing free of charge all reproductive services, as only by so doing can the deadly population bulge be slowed and brought into balance with the rest of nature so that human life on our planet can be sustained.”

However, as my readers know, I have been seriously in favor of substantial immigration limitation (but I am neither a racist nor anti-immigrant) for many years, as one can read by obtaining on Kindle my views as author of From the Dissident Left: A Collection of Essays 2004-2013.

Clearly my views on family planning would not find great acceptance from the leaders of many religious sects, but interestingly some of the most effective advocates of patriotic immigration reform include folks who do not share my family planning views and definitely are classified as arch conservatives. They advocate against the enactment of another amnesty such as occurred without enforcement in 1986, and against the passage of legislation like the Senate immigration bill, which passed the Senate with support from the Senate Gang of Eight. They write and speak eloquently for strong effective immigration limitations. A few such voices: Tom Tancredo, Pat Buchanan and his sister, Bay Buchanan, and conservative women columnists, Ann Coulter and Michel Malkin.

And my vigorous support of their views on real immigration reform manifested themselves in my years of service on the board of the Federation For American Immigration Reform (FAIR) and my continuing role as Co-Chair of FAIR’s National Advisory Board, whose Co-Chair Brian Bilbray, served with great effectiveness on this issue as a Republican Congressman and earlier in several important municipal government posts.

What I opine here is simple, but profoundly difficult to explain to voters who steadfastly parrot the trite, outmoded phases, such as; “we are a nation of immigrants” or “isn’t it important for the US to keep increasing our numbers?” Certainly those elected to public office are worried about being labeled racists or xenophobes by the advocates of cheap labor and the ethnic lobbies. These folks simply want to shift the public costs of their private gains to the US taxpayers and indeed they have been hugely successful in doing so. Perhaps the best way to debunk these empty statements is with the rather bloodless approach of asserting the numbers. This I tried to do in my June 16, 2014 blog on this website, Immigration Growth’s Main Truth: It’s All About the Numbers. However, if those liberals (who are liberal only in offering up the general patrimony of all US citizens to the scores of aliens who have come to the US since 1965—over 100 million), have their way, the nation will continue to use knee jerk thinking to disallow rational and logical solutions such as mandating that E-verify become permanent and ensuring who know who is entering the country, especially given that the terrorist threat is real and the prospect of Ebola is likely coming our way.

Endless growth is an illusion. A profoundly disturbing study by Leon Kolankiewicz, Roy Beck and Anne Manetas on the effects of population growth and urban sprawl notes that farm and open land per capita declined from nearly 2 acres just a few years ago to .3 acres today.[1]

This massive scholarly work led by respected co-author environmentalist Kolankiewicz notes:

In essence there are only three sources of national population growth: native fertility (in conjunction with slowly increasing life spans), immigration, and immigrant fertility. We know the following about their contribution to long-term growth:

  • Native fertility: At 1.9 births per woman, it remains below the replacement level of 2.1 and has not been a source of long-term population growth in the U.S since 1971.
  • Immigration: The sole source of long-term population growth in the United States is immigration, due both to new immigrants (arriving at about four times higher than the “replacement level” where immigration equals emigration) and to immigrants’ fertility, which despite declines during the recession has remained well above replacement level.

Thus, long-term population growth in the United States is in the hands of federal policy makers. It is they who have increased the annual settlement of immigrants from one-quarter million in the 1950s and 1960s to over a million since 1990.

I grew up near Pittsburgh surrounded by a beautiful rural area not far from the westernmost ridge of the Appalachians. The authors make these comments about Pittsburgh: even there considerable sprawl in a relatively low population growth area has occurred.

The authors ask many pertinent questions.

For example: Census data show that since 1972, the size of American families has been at replacement-level, but annual immigration has tripled and is now the cause of nearly all long-term population growth. What should the government do?

  • 68% – Reduce immigration to slow down population growth
  • 18% – Keep immigration the same and allow population to double this century
  • 4% – Increase immigration to more than double the population
  • 10% – Not sure

The trends are clear and devastating.

One can hope that our clear eyed intellects will allow us to depart from the standard stereotype political classifications of liberal and conservative, thus skipping mindless knee jerk reactions and put patriotic immigration reform, not another unenforced amnesty such as in 1986 as a major first priority in solving so many looming American problems.


Former US Navy officer, banker and venture capitalist, Donald A. Collins, a free lance writer living in Washington, DC., has spent over 40 years working for women’s reproductive health as a board member and/or officer of numerous family planning organizations including Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Guttmacher Institute, Family Health International and Ipas. Yale under graduate, NYU MBA. He is the author of From the Dissident Left: A Collection of Essays 2004-2013.

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