Created: 1995. Updated: 17 December, 1999


Position Statement on Over- Immigration
and Overpopulation

Population and Sustainability

Fred Elbel



On my position on mass immigration, it is essentially this: I am a descendant of immigrants to the U.S. My grandmother grew up on a farm with Irish immigrant parents. My grandfather grew up in a family that immigrated from Germany. My other grandfather's father changed his name to be more "American", and his wife's family immigrated here to find a better life. I am pro immigrant -- perhaps it is the rich mix of cultures in this country that gives it it's strength.

We are all immigrants. Even Native American Indians migrated here, almost certainly over the Bering Strait. In more general terms, the human species has always been a migratory species. We have covered the globe. Tribes and nations have always pushed to expand their territory for a number of reasons. Perhaps it is an inherited human characteristic which promotes species survival, perhaps it is due to our inquisitiveness and a need to explore, perhaps is due to resource drawdown in local areas, and the need to find greener pastures.


We have conquered the last wilderness -- there is no remaining unexplored land to move on to. We are stuck where we are, yet our global population continues to expand as if we could relieve population pressure by migration and emigration. The fact that medicine has generally improved longevity and reduced death from disease exacerbates the problem.

The consequent question of continued population expansion is this: can we limit population growth before we end up in real mess, where we will have to deal with environmental consequences, quality of life issues, and resource drawdown? All indications are that nature will take care of overpopulation if we don't. I know of no one who would opt for a population crash.

Open Borders

Many years ago I was enamored with the concept of open immigration -- a world without borders. This is no longer the case, as I will explain. I am fundamentally convinced that overpopulation is the most serious problem that will affect the next generation. Yet it takes a generation for numbers to level off once there is a reduction in reproductive rates. Without increased numbers from mass immigration, the U.S. population would stabilize at 247 million by 2030, up from 203 million in 1970 (source: demographer Leon Bouvier).

With immigration into the U.S. remaining at current levels, population will continue to grow to 350 million in 2030, and to possibly half a billion in 2050, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. This means that with continued immigration rates, U.S. population will possibly double within the next 50 years.

From the point of view of resource utilization, the U.S. is the most overpopulated nation on earth. Because of the impact of technology, a person in the U.S. uses many times more (17 - 30 times) resources than a person in a third-world country. Thus, the impact of continued population growth in the U.S. is as serious as, or more serious than, population growth in less technically advanced countries. Mass mmigration is a primary cause of future overpopulation in the U.S., and it must be addressed as a causal factor, not an extraneous issue.

The truth is, even with current rates of mass immigration, we can not help even a small fraction of the millions of people who might wish to migrate to the U.S. And with current relaxed restrictions on mass immigration, we are not in the least setting an example for the rest of the world. By not dealing with our own overpopulation problem, we are in effect "hiding our heads in the sand". I contend we can either take realistic measures to deal with the issue now, or draconian measures in 2050.

Are Restrictions Fair?

If I were to try to emigrate to Canada, or Cambodia for that matter, and I were told that I could not because of excessive population growth in that country, I would accept the reality of the situation, and respect that country for their actions. Admittedly, if it were hard to find three meals a day, perhaps I would be more bitter. Yet, if I were allowed to migrate to that country, I would do so with the knowledge that my children would contribute to overcrowding there and as a result might themselves someday lack three meals a day.

Quick Facts

I rate the two following videos "two thumbs up!":

There is $10 video that in 17 minutes, will convince you that overimmigration is indeed a demographic issue, not an elitist or racist spin-off.

Immigration By the Numbers
Roy Beck
The Social Contract Press
(800) 352-4843

Another video shows, in layman's terms, the impossibility of continued population growth:

Arithmetic, Population, and Energy
Dr. Albert Bartlett
University of Colorado
Academic Media Services
Boulder CO 80309
(303) 492-1857
(See the Al Bartlett website, which contains a collection of Al Bartlett's works, presentation, and video.)

It costs $30, but is by far the best explanation I have seen of the population issue.

In Summary

  • Citizens of any given country do in fact have the right to be concerned about, and to limit population growth caused by mass immigration. Indeed, it is by inaction that population growth will continue.
  • We in the U.S. can alleviate only a fraction of what is required to solve world population pressures by allowing high levels of immigration. Continued high levels of mass immigration may allow U.S. to feel better (less guilty for our comparatively rich lifestyle), but it won't solve the world's problems.
  • Migration is the true issue, of which overimmigration is one manifestation. Frontiers are conquered, and there is no new land to settle. We are past the point where migration can be act as a safety valve to relieve localized overpopulation. Migration and immigration as a solution are a cruel hoax.
  • By not restricting mass immigration, the U.S. (and other countries) is following a "trajedy of the commons" scenario which is magnified accordingly by our high consumption levels.
  • By establishing a national net zero immigration policy, the U.S. acknowledges the fact that population is a significant issue, that growth limitation is a goal worthy of direct action, and is setting an example for other countries. Of course other countries should adapt a similar policy.

Fred Elbel

Copyright 1997, 1999 Fred Elbel.

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