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Republicans and experts warn about effects of immigration

By Jorge A. Ba Ales
Agencia EFE, August 2, 2001

WASHINGTON (EFE) -- Immigration is the determining factor in U.S. population growth, and if the current policy continues, immigrants will increase the problems of overcrowding in our cities, experts told Congress on Thursday.

Rep. George Gekas (Rep.-PA), told a House subcommittee on immigration that Congress should change immigration policy "to ensure the security of our borders and balanced population growth."

Gekas noted that President Gerorge W. Bush had received recommendations from Attorney General John Ashcroft and Secretary of State Colin Powell to legalize some 3 million illegal Mexican immigrants.

Between 1990 and 2000, natural growth - the difference between the number of births and deaths - accounted for more than half the population growth, which increased from 248.7 million to 287.4 million, according to the head of the population division of the Census Bureau, John Long.

The population increase of 13.2 percent between 1990 and 2000 was the greatest numerical increase between two census reports in history, he said, adding, "we estimate that net immigration during the decade was approximately 12 million people."

According to Census Bureau figures, the percentage of the population born outside the United States was 10.9 in 2000 compared with 7.9 percent in 1990.

Steven Camarota, the director of the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), said that "in the last decade, immigration has become the determining factor in U.S. population growth, and if policy is not changed, immigration will continue to boost population growth in the 21st century."

According to Camarota, Census Bureau figures indicate that at least 1.3 million immigrants settle in the United States each year.

It is estimated that the U.S. population may reach 404 million by 2050, "but if there were no immigration, the same estimates indicate the population would be 328 million, that is to say 76 million fewer," Camarota added.

"Even without immigration, there will be a significant increase in population because we have created a demographic impetus by permitting so many people to enter the country during the last three decades," Camarota said.

According to the CIS director, all this means that within the next 50 years, "we must construct some 30 million living units, which will increase urban growth problems."

Census Bureau figures show that in 2000 there were 8 million school-aged children (5-17 years of age) in the United States who were the children of immigrants arriving since 1970.

"That is equal to the total increase in school-aged children in the last 20 years," Camarota noted. "That is to say, immigration accounts for virtually all of the increase in the school-aged population in the last few decades."

"The public school system's capacity to absorb these students is an important matter that should be considered in the formulation of a sensible immigration policy," he added.

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