Race card trumped

  Dear HCN,

In a recent essay (-All our backs are a bit wet," HCN, 10/11/99), Jack McGarvey suggests that U.S. immigration and border enforcement policies are racially motivated and that U.S. immigration policies give preferential treatment to Canadians over Mexicans. When examined in the light of U.S. Census data, however, this race card is soundly trumped by demographic facts.

Since 1970, Mexicans have represented about 27 percent of all immigrants to the U.S., far more than any other nation and slightly more than all Asian nations combined. Canadians do not "rank second in numbers to the darker folk coming from south of the border." Since 1970, Canadians have represented only about 2.3 percent of all immigrants to the U.S. Canada is not among the top 10 source nations of U.S. immigrants. The nation sending the second largest percentage of immigrants to the U.S. during this period was China, representing about 5.3 percent of U.S. immigrants. Other nations sending large percentages of immigrants to the U.S. include the Philippines, Vietnam, El Salvador, India and Korea. It is hard to detect biases against non-Caucasians in these data.

Over 1 million immigrants enter the U.S. each year, approximately 825,000 legally and some 300,000 illegally. The U.S. allows more immigrants each year than does the rest of the world combined. High immigration quotas have given the U.S. the highest population growth rate of all the G-7 nations. Population growth is an important factor behind environmental degradation, and immigration is now the main engine of U.S. population growth. Unless the U.S. Congress adjusts immigration quotas downward to more traditional (pre-1965) levels, U.S. population will increase from 274 million to near or above 400 million in the next 50 years, with immigration accounting for roughly 90 percent of this growth.

The poverty of millions of people in Mexico is unfortunate, and there is a strong case to be made for increasing foreign aid to Mexico and other developing nations. But opening the U.S. borders will not solve the world's overpopulation problems.

Jeffrey Jacobs

Alexandria, Virginia