Immigrants Projected To Propel U.S. Population Growth

Immigrants Projected to Propel U.S. Population Growth

By Gary Feuerberg
Epoch Times Washington, D.C. Staff
Sep 09, 2007

WASHINGTON, D.C.-The U.S. population, now at 301 million, is on course to become 468 million in 2060a 167 million increase. The majority of this increase can be attributed to immigrants and their descendants: immigrants will account for 105 million of this increase in population by 2060, assuming the current level of immigration to the U.S. of 1.6 million legal and illegal immigrants each year, and assuming that 350,000 immigrants will leave the country each year as they do now.

These computations are the handiwork of Dr. Steven A. Camarota, Director of Research of the Center for Immigration Studies. Using U.S. Census Bureau's projections of birth and death rates by race, Camarota says that these are “one of immigration's clearest and most direct effects.”

“Whatever one thinks of population growth, the projected 167 million growth in the nation's population in the next 53 years is very large,” said Dr. Camarota. “It is larger than the entire U.S. population in the 1950 ” he added.

Camarota raises an issue to the ongoing immigration debate not often mentioned, namely, the effect it has on the U.S. population size. Speaking at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., August 30, Dr. Camarota appeared neutral on whether this population increase is 'good' or 'bad' for the country, but he says he wants to expand awareness that current immigration levels, allowed by U.S. immigration policies, are “a key determinant of population increase.”

“If the current level continues, future immigration will account for 46% of population growth between now and 2020, says Dr. Camarota.

Camarota's immigration projections make no distinction between legals and illegals. The portion of illegal immigrants, however, is relatively smaller part of the pie. His own research indicates that 10% of all births in the country and 42% of all births to immigrants are to illegal immigrant mothers.

Historical Perspective

Immigration to the United States since the 1990s has been relatively high compared to most earlier periods. Opponents of the current immigration policy would like to see the levels reduced.

There was a peak period after the turn of the century (1900-1910). In 1910, the percentage of foreign-born was nearly 15%. Today, the foreign-born population represents 12.4 percent of the total population (2005), compared to 11.2 percent in 2000 and 7.9 percent in 1990, according to the Minnesota Policy Institute.

During the Depression years in the 1930s and WWII during the 1940s, the country experienced extremely low levels of immigration. The foreign-born population then dropped gradually to 9.6 million in 1970, when it represented a record low 4.7 percent of the total population, according to a U.S. Census Bureau paper. Immigration had risen during the 1950s and 1960s, but was still lower than today's level.

Note that the current level of net immigration per year of 1.25 million is a snap shot of today. “Net immigration has been increasing for five decades; if immigration continues to increase, it will add more than the projected 105 million by 2060,” according to Dr. Camarota.

Quality of Life Issues

Two other speakers at the National Press Club event, one also from the Center for Immigration Studies, left no doubt where they stood on this issue raised by Dr. Camarota, and see the country moving in a direction that will lower the quality of life for both native born and foreign-born.

Mark Krikorian, Executive Director of the Center for Immigration Studies, and Roy Beck, Executive Director of NumbersUSA, interpreted Dr. Camarota's projections as bleak warnings of where our immigration policy will lead unless we change it. The impact of immigration on congestion, sprawl, traffic, pollution, loss of open space, and greenhouse gas emissions result in a lower quality of life, they argue.

Their conclusions were hotly disputed by Ben Wattenberg, senior fellow at American Enterprise Institute, and author of Values Matter Most, who saw Camarota's projections as a clever ruse for anti-immigration sentiments. Wattenburg spurned the Camarota's statistics and offered his own housekeeper, a Hispanic woman whom he introduced to the audience, as anecdotal evidence of what immigrants and their offspring can contribute to, and be assimilated by, American society.

Wattenberg, who serves as the host of PBS' Think Tank, said not to worry about the large inflow of Hispanic immigrants, that similar concerns in American history about immigrants overrunning the country turned out to be wrong.

Roy Beck does not want his position to lower and restrict immigration numbers to be seen as hatred towards immigrants. On his website he refers to his many warm encounters with immigrants at home and at church. However, Beck says:

“To talk about changing immigration numbers is to say nothing against the individual immigrants in this country. Rather, it is about deciding how many foreign citizens living in their own countries right now should be allowed to immigrate in the future.”