Joe Guzzardi is a writer whose anti-immigration stories appear regularly in the pages of this newspaper. I believe it is fair to ask, who is this messenger who writes so passionately against immigrants and immigration reform? It turns out that Mr. Guzzardi speaks for an advocacy group called, “Californians for Population Stabilization”, or CAPS. CAPS advocates an end to all immigration, legal as well as illegal. It claims that immigration is wrecking the quality of life in the state of California. So put an end to immigration into this country and we will all be better off. The goal of CAPS is zero population growth, or ZPG. I don’t know about California, but it’s fair to ask, is this good for the nation and for Kansas?
The irony in Mr. Guzzardi’s stance is that the United States is already at Zero Population Growth. According to an article in the Washington Times, (June 28, 2013), our nation’s fertility rate fell to a historic low of 1.89 per woman, well below the 2.1 that is needed for population stability. The population growth in the United States has slowed down markedly; between 2011 and 2012, the growth was only 1.7%. And if we look at population growth in Kansas, the rate of growth is even slower. From 2011 to 2012 the rate was 1.1 %, and most of that increase took place in the northeast corridor of the state. Out of the 104 counties in Kansas, 80 lost population. As rural areas in Kansas lose population, communities become unsustainable. Think of towns disappearing and school districts closing, or consolidating.
For our nation a shrinking population is not a good thing. An aging population with a shrinking work force spells economic stagnation and
trouble. No, Mr. Guzzardi’s immigration prescription is neither good for our nation or for Kansas.
What our country, and Kansas needs is not less immigrants but more immigrants. Many developed nations, including Japan and Russia have shrinking populations and economic problems as a result. The United States has grown in population in the past 10 years because we have admitted many immigrants from around the world who desire to live and work in our country. It is undeniable that immigration is an economic benefit to our nation, and our state. It is a fact that immigrants are twice as likely as native born Americans to start new businesses, and new businesses are the driving engine of our economy. For example, Sergey Brin, a Russian immigrant was a cofounder of Google; and Jerry Yang, who emigrated from Taiwan is the cofounder of Yahoo.
But, I have to respond to Mr. Guzzardi’s latest tirade in which he invoked the memory of Cesar Chavez, to bolster his attack on immigration reform, Yes, it is true that Chavez opposed the Bracero Program, a program that brought large numbers of immigrant farmworkers from Mexico to work for farm businesses in California. Chavez’s opposition was based upon his belief that farmworkers were being exploited by the owners and were not permitted to protest conditions under which they worked. And he opposed the bosses using immigrants as strike breakers during the five year long grape strike. But, Chavez supported the Amnesty provisions of the 198~, .Federal
Immigration Act, and it is not a stretch to say that if Cesar Chavez were alive today, he too would support immigration reform.