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The Tancredo Moratorium Bill
For all the chest-thumping about "Homeland Security," the blunt truth is that the United States is no safer today than it was the day before the 9/11 attacks two years ago and indeed, now that full-scale war has started, considerably less safe.
The reason is that the government still refuses to halt immigration and take control of its own borders, allowing hordes of immigrants to enter the country, stay as long as they please, and do more or less whatever they can get away with—including, very possibly, acts of terrorism.
Only one public official has made any effort to correct that situation. Last month Colorado's Rep. Tom Tancredo introduced what he calls the Mass Immigration Reduction Act of 2003, a bill that is essentially what is usually called a "moratorium" on legal immigration into this country.
"Between 1800 and 1965," Mr. Tancredo writes in his statement on the bill, "the annual number of people admitted as immigrants averaged about 200,000. Since 1990, that number has been over one million—and that doesn't count illegal immigrants."
With more than a million legal immigrants entering every year, there is no way the federal bureaucracies that deal with immigrants and national security threats could handle the problem.
It would take an army larger than any in the world simply to keep track of the aliens who are already here.
But national security, an obvious and immediate threat, is only part of the problem with mass immigration. The larger problem is the impact the immigration numbers have—on the economy, the culture, the educational system, crime and social institutions generally. And even larger than that is the number problem by itself.
Mr. Tancredo in his statement remarked "The Census Bureau projects that U.S. population will hit 400 million by 2050 and 571 million by 2100"—up from 280 million in the 2000 Census.
But the congressman's numbers were outdated only weeks after he cited them. This month the Census Bureau announced that by 2050, the national population will stand at 420 million, 17 million more than the previous estimate.
If you like sitting in traffic, standing in line, paying skyrocketing rents and home prices, and watching natural resources vanish to sustain this level of human numbers, you'll think the America of the future is a utopia.
Mr. Tancredo's moratorium could help avert that prospect. It limits legal immigration to about 300,000 per year—the number of people who leave the country every year and a little more than the historic average for annual legal immigration.
The brute fact is that, short of a nuclear war or a mass epidemic, the United States doesn't need any more people. The 300,000 limit in the moratorium bill would let us bring in the Solzhenitsyns and Enrico Fermis that would not otherwise be in this country (how many we'll find in places like Mexico is another question; a lot fewer than 300,000, I'd guess).
The only problem with Mr. Tancredo's proposal is that the moratorium would last for only five years. It should be longer—at least 25 years, a full generation, or more.
For nearly the last 40 years or so, Americans have tolerated mass immigration on the mistaken assumption that immigration is the normal and natural way for a country's population to grow. The fact is that few if any other nations in history have willingly tolerated the levels of mass immigration we've accepted. The normal way for them to grow is through expansion of their own native populations, and the same ought to be true for the United States.
In so far as we need more people, they should be our own descendants, not someone else's.
Mr. Tancredo's bill may or may not pass. The Bush administration, eager to court Mexican voters, won't push it, and few other congressmen seem to understand the immigration crisis as well as the Colorado representative. It's likely the administration's cronies in Congress will try to smother the moratorium in its cradle by simply never holding hearings on it, allowing a committee vote on it, or reporting it to the House floor for a vote.
But whatever actually happens to the bill, the vast majority of Americans who want immigration reduced need to beat the drum for it to build popular support for immigration control.
A campaign to pass the moratorium would by itself generate debate, disseminate information, provoke new ideas and put pressure on Congress and the administration to deal with the issue one way or another.
Even if the immigration "time-out" Mr. Tancredo is calling for doesn't happen now, a mass grassroots movement centered on his measure could put serious immigration control back on the political menu and build a mass following the Open Borders lobby couldn't ignore.
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[Sam Francis [email him] is a nationally syndicated columnist. A selection of his columns, America Extinguished: Mass Immigration And The Disintegration Of American Culture, is now available from Americans For Immigration Control.]