Immigration contributed to 75 percent of U.S. population growth since 2000, and if current trends continue it will be responsible for adding another 100 million people to the U.S. by 2065, according to a new report.
“Immigration, counting both new admissions and births to immigrant women, was responsible for three-fourths of the growth in our population this century,” the report published this week by the immigration reduction group Negative Population Growth reads. “If current trends continue, immigration will add another 100 million people to the United States in the next 50 years.”
The document — authored by Jessica Vaughan, the director of policy studies at the Center for Immigration Studies — dissects one of the major drivers of this trend: family-based immigration.
“Since the 1970s, more than half of the legal immigrants admitted were in the family categories. In the last three decades, family immigration has accounted for more than 60 percent of total legal immigration. In 2013, family immigration’s share of total immigration was 66 percent,” the report reads.
In raw figures, family-based immigration brought two million immigrants to the U.S. in the 1970s. By the 1980s and 1990s that number had grown to four million and since 2005 more than 6.5 million family—based immigrants have come to the U.S.
This type of immigration—also known as chain migration—operates whether the economy is growing or not, and whether the immigrants are in danger in their homeland. Instead, Vaughan explains, the largest factor impeding the deluge of immigrants to the U.S. is how quickly American immigration officers are able to process their high caseload.
“Recent experience shows that immigration is no longer a phenomenon that will self-regulate according to economic cycles or unemployment rates; it is clearly a function of our admissions policies – the more people allowed to immigrate, the more who will do so, and the more who will sponsor their family members,” the report reads.
For instance, the number of spouses of U.S. citizens admitted has skyrocketed in recent years from 196,000 in 2000 to 415,000. The parents of U.S. citizens has been another family-based immigration category which has seen dramatic increases as well from 67,000 in 2000 to 120,000 today, Vaughan reports.
“Because there are no limits on admissions in this category, and because it opens up an opportunity for sponsorship of more family members, the parents category is one of the key components of chain migration. Before 1966, the admission of parents was subject to numerical limits,” her report explains.
Vaughan further reveals that for those categories with caps the waiting list for admission can be years long. And,given the appeal of access to the U.S., fraud is believed to be rampant but difficult for detect given the pressures on immigration officers to process caseloads.
The report makes several recommendations with the goal being to lower immigration rates. In particular, Vaughan recommends imposing caps and restrictions on certain family-based immigration.
“To accomplish immigration reduction that will lead to population stabilization, Congress must consider cuts and tighter regulation of the categories that are currently unlimited (Parents and Spouses) in addition to eliminating certain quota-limited family categories, as recommended by the Jordan Commission in 1995,” she writes.