This chart shows how big the change has been.
The total immigrant population increased from 9.6 million in 1970 to 43.3 million in 2015.
The share of the population comprised of immigrants increased from 4.7% to 13.5% of the U.S. population over that same period.
There is little doubt that immigrants are one of the key factors that made America great over its history. The country benefited immensely from the talents and attitudes of those who were motivated by the opportunity that exists in the United States of America.
Almost every one of us can trace our heritage to someone who wanted something more in their life and had the courage to seek a new path for themselves...their children and their heirs.
However, it also seems clear that in the past half century that immigration got out of control. Despite well-defined laws that were on the books, both Republicans and Democrats turned a blind eye to the increasing wave of people who wanted entry into the United States.
The law was simply ignored for what appears to be political purposes. Democrats wanted votes. Republicans wanted cheap labor.
If you do not think that our immigration policy is a significant problem today and for our future, you need to watch this 5-minute video by NumbersUSA that puts the issue in its proper context
Make no mistake, Donald Trump would never have been elected President but for this issue. It was a centerpiece of his announcement to seek the Presidency and it was central to his campaign platform.
The American people understood that their elected officials had let them down. They failed to enforce the law. They failed to reform the law. As they failed, our country paid the price in countless ways---crime, suppressed wages, increased demands on infrastructure, pressure on school budgets, funding for increased welfare and healthcare costs.
As the video above points out, it will also get much, much worse in the future. What we are seeing today is just the tip of the iceberg. A continuation of current immigration policy will continue to squeeze middle class incomes, contribute to urban sprawl, put pressure on our environment and natural resources, and harm efforts for long-term sustainability. Ironically, most of these issues are very important to liberal voters but the Democrats in Congress only see the issue in simplistic terms involving new potential voters.
It is wrong and the people know it is wrong. However, no one said or did anything about it until Donald Trump stepped up and told it like it was. The establishment called him innumerable names for calling this issue out but all he said is what people saw with their own eyes as they went about their daily lives. Immigration is totally out of control.
The American Community Survey of the U.S. Census Bureau provides some further perspectives on this issue that are interesting.
Consider a few facts from that survey for the year 2016.
- 27.2% of those who reside in California are now foreign born. 23.0% in New York, 22.5% in New Jersey and 20.3% in Florida.
- Only 1.7% of those who reside in West Virginia are foreign born. Mississippi is at 2.0% and Montana at 2.1%.
- 65.5 million people who reside in the United States speak something other than English at home. That is 22% of the population! Almost half of those that speak English at home are native born citizens!
- 40.5 million of those people who speak something other than English at home are speaking Spanish at home. Of those people, 36.2% have less than a high school education and 21% are living below the poverty level. By comparison, of all of the U.S residents who speak English at home, only 8.6% have less than a high school education and only 12.2% are living below the poverty level.
- If you consider all of the foreign born non-citizens in the United States (whether or not they speak English at home), 49% are living at or below 200% of the poverty level. The comparable number for native borns is 30%.
- Although Hispanics from Mexico and Latin America make up about half of the foreign born immigrants (both legal and illegal) in the United States, there are many other nationalities represented in the immigrant population. For example, consider that there are almost 1 million people in the U.S, who speak Haitian at home. 48% of this total live in Florida. There are 281,000 that just speak Punjabi at home (48% live in California) and 259,000 who speak Bengali at home (39% live in New York).
- 48% of the foreign born people who are not U.S. citizens are between the ages of 25-44. This is double the 24% that this age range is represented in the native born population. This is prime working age and most are competing for jobs in the workforce of some type with native born Americans. 13.6% of foreign born immigrants work in construction. The similar percentage of native borns--5.8%.
- Interestingly, there are 5.7 million foreign born that are attending some type of educational institution in the United States. However, 56% of these are attending college or graduate school. This shows the tremendous number of foreign students who come to the United States to attend college. For native borns, only 26% of all those enrolled in school are attending college.
In reviewing these facts you can see the logic of the immigration reform proposals that President Trump put forward last October in response to calls by Democrats to extend the executive order of Obama and legalize the children who were brought here illegally under DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals).
A major problem of the current immigration law is that it places too much weight on family connections as an entrance pass into the country.
For example, between 2005 and 2015, 9.3 million new immigrants were allowed into the country legally based solely on family ties. That's more than 70% of all the legal immigration that occurred in that period. That number alone is equal to all of the immigrants who entered the country in the 20 years between 1970 and 1990!
Entry into the country under current law has little to do with education, skills, training or the ability to speak English or any demonstrated motivation to do anything other than to join a family member.
By the way, the terrorist from Bangladesh who attempted to blow himself up in the Port Authority Bus Station in New York City this week was in the country due to chain migration. His skills? He seems to be an unemployed taxi driver based on initial reportstest
What are the common sense factors Trump wants to use to determine who is allowed to legally immigrate into the country? The system would be based more on merit than on family connections. English-speaking ability. Education. Job skills. Financial independence. These would all be given higher preference who would be awarded green cards.
These would appear to be imminently reasonable if you look at the numbers above. Why are we not establishing a system that gives preference to those who have the most to contribute to our country?
The mainstream media would like you to believe that Trump's position on immigration is outrageous, extreme and unsupported by the American public.
The numbers above, and the fact that Trump is President, suggest that they are wrong again.