By Mark Thies
Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill are scrambling to find a way to amnesty illegal immigrants in their nearly $2 trillion budget bill.
The Senate parliamentarian, who decides what provisions can and can’t be included in the bill that’s being advanced under the filibuster-proof “reconciliation” process, shot down their first two proposals. So now, lawmakers are proceeding with “Plan C” — which would grant illegal immigrants “parole,” a status that gives illegal immigrants work permits and a reprieve from deportation, without immediately granting them green cards.
Lawmakers are also plotting to expand legal immigration levels. All told, their current plan would increase the number of immigrants living and working in this country by several million people at a minimum.
Such rapid growth will put immense strain on our resources, both financial and natural, and the ensuing damage to our environment threatens to set progress there back by a generation or more.
Our country is not underpopulated by any reasonable reckoning. Schools are already overcrowded, especially for young children. California, for instance, would need to build a new school every day for five years to provide class sizes of 15-19 students. Over the next 50 years, immigration is set to account for 96 percent of the increase in school-age children.
Mass migration is making life more difficult — and expensive — for working-class citizens. Just like everyone else, migrants need a roof over their heads — so they compete against low-income Americans for our scarce supply of rental housing. Nationally, the median rent has surged over 16 percent since January, in part because of competition from new arrivals.
Environmental groups pretend to be blissfully unaware that adding so many people to the population does irreparable harm to the environment.
Transportation is another example: more people mean more cars, gas or electric, creating more traffic and more emissions (electric cars pollute too — albeit at the power plant, rather than the tailpipe). More development requires the clearing of woods and fields to make way for pavement and parking lots. Federal data shows that around 90 percent of open space lost in the past decade — both urban and rural — can be attributed to population growth. Yes, more and more of our unique outdoor heritage is being lost.
This sprawl comes with serious environmental and health consequences, threatening wetlands critical for clean water and flood protection as well as harming endangered species. The American Southwest, in particular, faces a dystopian future of water shortages as its population skyrockets. Lake Powell just above the Grand Canyon is now at 29 percent of capacity, an all-time low, an astounding 156 feet below full capacity.
Poll after poll shows that amnesty is unpopular — as we all see right before our very eyes that such an unsustainable flood of migrants is worsening the quality of life for all. The only question is whether our leaders will grow backbones before it’s too late.
Mark Thies, Ph.D. is an Engineering Professor at Clemson University whose research is focused on energy and sustainability.