A Note from the Editor: What Do We Mean By a Moratorium on Immigration?

By Wayne Lutton, Ph. D.
Volume 21, Number 2 (Winter 2010-2011)
Issue theme: "The Economic Case for a Moratorium on Immigration"

Moratorium: Delay or suspension of an activity.
A legally authorized period of delay or waiting. An agreed suspension of activity. From the Latin “mora,” meaning delay.
[Source: Merriam-Webster.com]


There are many synonyms that convey the meaning of moratorium: abeyance, adjournment, ban, break, breather, breathing spell, cooling-off period, decrease, deduction, deferment, discontinuation, downtime, freeze, halt, holding pattern, interval, pause, postponement, putting off, reprieve, respite, stall, stay, surcease, suspension, wait.

In the report in this issue, when the Census Bureau projects U.S.population and demographics under its Zero Net Migration (Moratorium) scenario, it assumes no legal or illegal migrants are allowed to settle permanently in the U.S.By comparing U.S.population growth and demographic change under Current Policy (anywhere from 48,000 to 200,000 Americans permanently leave each year and a million or more immigrants become permanent residents) versus a policy of Zero Net Migration, we are able to zero in on the problems stemming from mass immigration.

The need to reduce legal immigration and effectively end illegal immigration has been increasingly recognized in recent years. The heroic late Rep. Robert Stump (R-AZ) collected 80 co-sponsors when he introduced his Immigration Moratorium Act of 1994 (H.R. 3862). His legislation would have sharply reduced legal immigration until the President certified to Congress that illegal immigration had fallen to less than 10,000 new entrants per year and that a return to previous legal immigration levels would have no adverse impact on citizens’ wages, working conditions, or the environment. Rep. Stump followed this with the Mass Immigration Reduction Act (H.R. 41) introduced in 1999. This would have set an all-inclusive ceiling of 100,000 per year on all immigration for five years, followed by a population replacement level of a maximum of 200,000 per year. Had these proposals been enacted, net immigration would have been reduced to zero, with the numbers arriving for permanent residence balanced by those leaving.

For all of the reasons highlighted in this report, ending mass immigration is the prerequisite for dealing with a long list of “preventable disasters.” As former governor of Colorado Richard Lamm reminds us, “One of the great challenges to public policy is knowing when and how to change a successful policy, grown obsolete.”■


Wayne Lutton, Ph.D.


About the author

Wayne Lutton is editor of The Social Contract