Rethinking Immigration Policy 

		      San Francisco Chronicle Op-Ed
		            January 31, 1995
                             Yeh Ling-Ling 

Even strong advocates of immigrant rights now admit the adverse impact that mass immigration has on this country. So why is current immigration policy being stubbornly defended and the will of the people ignored?

Chinese American Professor Paul Ong of UCLA, a strong advocate of liberal immigration policy, recently said: ``In terms of the adverse impact (of immigration) on wages and employment, the adverse impact will be most pronounced on minorities and established immigrants.

Antonia Hernandez, the president of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, said recently: ``Migration, legal and undocumented, does have an impact on our economy. . . . Most of the competition is to the Latino community. We compete with each other for those low-paying jobs.''

The pro-immigration Urban Institute now also indicates: ``Less-skilled black workers and black workers in high immigration areas with stagnant economies are negatively affected (by immigration). . .''

Bill Ong Hing, a Stanford University law professor who campaigned actively against Proposition 187, has said: ``There's a certain legitimacy to the view that parts of the country are being overcrowded with immigrants. . . . They affect growth, air pollution, water availability. It's not bogus for people to raise that issue.''

Isn't it, then, simplistic to characterize citizens' concerns about the current high levels of immigration ``xenophobic'' and ``immigrant-bashing''?

The United States is a nation of immigrants. However, the United States now is the greatest debtor nation on Earth. We have 39 million poor in this country, composed disproportionately of minorities. Our millions of unemployed are mostly low-skilled, mostly non-white. Even if immigrants are high achievers, should we invest in our own citizens or citizens of other countries?

The United States may still have millions of acres of open space. Land area alone, however, cannot support human lives. Newcomers need water, food, as well as jobs, education, health care, welfare and other infrastructure that we cannot even provide to millions of our native-born Americans. Should we continue an immigration policy that adds, every year, nearly 1 million legal immigrants and about 300,000 illegal immigrants to our environment and overburdened infrastructure?

We must bear in mind that today's global economy depends on fewer but highly skilled workers to prosper. The United States does not even have the resources to prepare today's children to be tomorrow's highly productive workers. Where are we going to find tax dollars to educate the additional thousands of immigrant children we invite to this country every year?

We need to save billions of dollars from serving fewer legal immigrants to help fund our public schools, crime-prevention programs, work training programs for welfare recipients and measures to stop illegal immigration.

Widespread poverty in developing nations is caused primarily by exponential population growth outstripping natural resources. We should support increased financing for international birth control.

To those who wish to provide health care and education to citizens of the poor nations, mass immigration is by no means cost-efficient. The costs of providing those services in developing nations would be a small fraction of what it costs in the United States. In addition, mass immigration will do greater harm to mother Earth because the American lifestyle is by far the most polluting.

The current U.S. immigration policy is fiscally unsound, economically unwise and environmentally unjustifiable. The United States needs a time out from immigration to develop a sensible policy.

Yeh Ling-Ling is National Outreach Coordinator for the Carrying Capacity Network.