Linda Chavez writes Trumps’ executive order doesn’t solve the immigration problem. She brings up the fact that undocumented immigrants come here to work at jobs Americans largely shun. This is true. There are a lot of unskilled labor jobs Americans just won’t do. Ms. Chavez also writes that we need to expand legal immigration with more emphasis on the skills we need in the U.S. workforce. This is also true. Fortune 500 companies are looking to expand the visa program to bring in more STEM skilled workers because there are not enough Americans with STEM skills. This leads to a question I have never heard asked by anyone.
I first need to disclose up front that on my mother’s side, my grandfather was 100% German and my grandmother was 100% Irish. On my father’s side my grandfather was 100% Swedish and my grandmother was 100% Polish. My mother, father, aunts and uncles, siblings and cousins wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for immigration. So I believe immigration is what made America great. However, since the U.S. can’t support an infinite population, a fair question, which is the question I want to ask, is…What size population can the U.S. support?
The current world population is 7.6 billion. The current U.S. population is about 0.33 billion. Could the US support 7 billion people (bringing the world population to 14.27 billion)? Probable not. Could the US support 2 billion people? Maybe, but what if the only way to support 2 billion people was to do away with our Constitution? We would have to protect our farmland, so the government might have to prevent farmers from selling their land to developers. Population growth in some areas might become unsustainable, so the government might have to move people around. There might be other issues that couldn’t be dealt with given our Constitution. Access to water and peoples water rights out west for example.
So the question needs to be modified. What size population can the US Constitution support? The answer might not be a fixed number based on advances in science and technology. So, the question needs to be modified one more time. Given the science and technology of the day, what size population can the US Constitution support? Finally, do we want to consider this? Would supporting a population this large affect our standing in the world? Would we use all our resources to support our own people so we could no longer support food, medical and financial programs for other countries?
Now, I’m not naive enough to believe there is one simple answer. One political party might say this is the number. The other party might say that is the number. One party might say we need these skills. The other party might say we need those skills. But at least there would be a discussion. I don’t know how we can begin to discuss immigration and immigration reform without having some idea of how large a population we can support.