Federally Coerced Population Growth

By Roy Beck
Published in The Social Contract
Volume 6, Number 3 (Spring 1996)
Issue theme: "Straight thinking on immigration"

WASHINGTON - Given a chance to slow down the third-world-style population growth in the United States, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 238 to 183 on March 20 to continue a legal immigration level that would double U.S. population over the next century.

The roll calls on that and 14 other immigration-related issues March 18-20 offered Americans a rare look at the stances, values and commitment of U.S. representatives on issues of environmental protection, population growth and fairness to wage-earners. (The Senate had not yet acted at publication time.)

Once current legal immigration volume was endorsed, the House voted 333-87 for legislation that would strengthen many efforts at curbing illegal immigration.

An analysis by The Social Contract of the overall records of each of the 435 members of the House revealed complex patterns of voting. Neither party earned the gratitude of the majority of Americans who want the federal government to stop forcing population growth. Yet, both parties also produced a small minority of their members who were true champions of population stabilization and of the American worker.

* There were 16 representatives who voted consistently on the side of reduced population growth and reduced importation of foreign competition to American workers. (See box of "16 Top Leaders For Immigration Cuts.") Of that select group, 10 were Democrats and 6 were Republicans..

* The votes of 51 other members could be considered to have been, on balance, supportive of cuts in population growth and foreign labor importation. (See box of "Other Leaders For Cuts.") Republicans were dominant in this group, outnumbering Democrats 41-10.

* On the other end of the spectrum, 71 representatives consistently voted for higher population growth and more importation of foreign workers. (See box on "71 Consistent Voters For High Immigration, Population.") They came from 30 states and were predominantly Republicans (55 of them).

* The voting records of the nearly 300 other representatives were mixed. Many voted against cuts in legal and illegal immigration but also opposed efforts to increase the importation of temporary workers. Others voted just the opposite. On balance, the voting records of all of them would keep immigration levels high.

Most Important Vote

On Legal Numbers

Lamar Smith (R-Texas) had bulldogged an immigration bill through his own subcommittee and then the House Judiciary Committee that would cut both illegal and legal immigration. Heavy lobbying by business and immigrant rights groups had resulted in the committee's greatly watering down many of Smith's original provisions by the time they reached the floor of the House.


These U.S. representatives had the most consistent record of voting against higher immigra-tion and against federally forced population growth during roll call voting March 18-20, 1996.

None of them voted for any of the four key amendments that would result in higher immigration and/or importation of temporary foreign workers. And each of them voted for at least two of the three other key measures that would result in lower illegal or temporary immigration.


Beilenson, A. (D)

Rohrabacher, D. (R)

Royce, Edward (R)


Castle, Michael (R)


Lipinski, William (D)


Meyers, Jan (R) Minnesota

Minge, David (D)


Taylor, Gene (D)


Bereuter, Doug (R)

North Dakota

Pomeroy, Earl (D)


Traficant, James (D) Oregon

DeFazio, Peter (D)


Duncan, John (R)


Bryant, John (D)

Wilson, Charles (D)


Obey, David (D)

The most significant House vote came on an amendment by Sam Brownback (R-Kan.), Dick Chrysler (R-Mich.) and Howard Berman (D-Cal.) that removed the Smith bill's provisions for halting family chain migration.

It was the first time that House members have been able to vote on whether to reverse a federally forced population growth program that inadvertently was created by Congress in 1965. That was when Congress acted to change immigration law and started a form of family chain migration that eventually snowballed annual foreign admissions to quadruple the level of traditional immigration.

Under current fertility and immigration, the U.S. population - which has grown from 203 million in 1970 to 265 million today, largely because of immigration - is projected to surpass 400 million soon after the year 2050, soaring past 500 million by the end of the 21st century.

Immigration is turning the country into something enormously different than what it otherwise would be. Without above-replacement-level immigration since 1970, the U.S. population would have stabilized at 247 million, rather than hurtling toward 500 million and beyond.

The legislation before the House would eventually have reduced total legal immigration by around 30 percent. While critics described that as a Draconian cut, it actually would have moved the level only back to the very high level that existed before the 1990 Congress created another jump in numbers. The proposal would have led to modest reductions in U.S. population growth over the next half-century, still allowing the population to pass 350 million by 2050. But it would have removed the sense of universal right for immigrants to split from their families and home country, move to the United States and then expect to send for their adult relatives to move here, too. And it would have been an important reversal of trends of the last three decades and perhaps would have paved the way to deeper cuts later.

The 238-183 vote to continue to force the current high level of legal immigration and population growth was closer than it might first look. If only 28 representatives had voted differently, the cuts in legal family chain migration would have stayed in the bill.

Three Last-Minute

Influences On Voting

It is likely that the Smith bill cuts in legal immigration would have survived if not for three last-minute developments

1. President Bill Clinton reversed himself and declared that the cuts in admissions of adult relatives should be opposed.

When the bi-partisan Commission on Immigration Reform had recommended similar cuts last summer, Clinton had endorsed them. He had appointed the chairwoman, Barbara Jordan, whom he praised then, and again at her funeral this year, as a stateswoman of the highest integrity. But with the revered former congresswoman in her grave, Clinton in March gave new meaning to the vow "‘til death us do part" and divorced himself from his commitment to Jordan's reforms. The reasons for his change of mind have not yet emerged. The major news media have made much of Clinton's close ties to various lawyers' organizations. The National Association of Immigration Lawyers is the most tenacious advocate of - and one of the most powerful lobbies to maintain - the high immigration that fuels their livelihood.

Democrat John Bryant of Texas was furious at what appeared to be a White House double-cross on the very day he was his party's manager of House floor debate on the bill. "It is a simple case of caving in to political pressure," he said, expressing "contempt" for the "politically cowardly" reversal by the White House.


Although these U.S. representatives voted for one or two of the amendments that would result in higher importation of temporary workers, all voted against stripping legislation of provisions to cut legal immigration by halting family chain migration.

And all counterbalanced their votes for temporary worker programs by voting for an equal or larger number of the key measures that were designed to reduce other temporary immigration or illegal immigration.


Bachus, S. (R)

Bevill, Tom (D)


Bilbray, Brian (R)

Bono, Sonny (R)

Calvert, Ken (R)

Cunningham, R. (R)

Gallegly, E. (R)

Horn, Steve (R)

Hunter, Duncan (R)


Skaggs, David (D)


Franks, Gary (R)


Foley, Mark (R)

Gibbons, Sam (D)

Goss, Porter (R)

Scarborough, J. (R)

Shaw, Clay (R)


Hyde, Henry (R)


Burton, Don (R)

Buyer, Stephen (R) Iowa

Ganske, Greg (R)

Leach, Jim (R)


Hayes, James (R)


Ehrlich, Robert (R)

Gilchrest, W. (R)


Ramstad, Jim (R)


Talent, James (R)

New Jersey


Rodney (R)

Martini, William (R)

Roukema, M. (R)

New Mexico

Skeen, Joe (R)

New York

Hinchey, M. (D)

Molinari, Susan (R)


Hoke, Martin (R)

Kasich, John (R)

Ney, Robert (R) Oklahoma

Isook, Ernest (R)


Clement, Bob (D)

Wamp, Zach (R


Barton, Joe (R)

Coleman, Ron (D)

Geren Pete (D)

Hall, Ralph (D)

Smith, Lamar (R)

Stenholm, C. (D)

Stockman, S. (R)


Bateman, H. (R)

Goodlatte, Bob (R)

Sisisky, Norman (D)


Metcalf Jack (R)

Tate, Randy (R)


Petri, Thomas (R)

Roth, Toby (R)


James (R)

2. Some Republicans used floor speeches to make fiery partisan attacks on the Democrats.

While Bryant was trying to do his part to hold together a bi-partisan coalition behind the Smith bill, several Republicans took the floor to denounce Democratic management of the House in the past, saying the country could only get what it needed in immigration reform from the Republicans. Stunned, Bryant several times begged Republicans with whom he agreed about the need for reform to stop alienating Democrats who might vote for the reform. He was especially critical of Speaker Newt Gingrich who he said stooped to partisanship in his floor speech rather than showing the kind of bi-partisan leadership that might have won victory.

Gingrich and other top House Republican leaders, however, had never shown any interest in reforming legal immigration, abandoning Smith and attempting to load the provisions on illegal immigration with measures generally considered too harsh to gain Democratic votes.

3. The Christian Coalition's director of governmental relations sent House members a letter on the day of the vote and asked that legal immigration not be cut.

This was the final pressure of a coalition of conservative groups led by Grover Norquist of the Americans for Tax Reform which tried to turn Republicans away from Smith. The actions confounded Smith who said "For the head of a tax group that's supposed to be looking out for taxpayers' money to oppose a bill that's going to save the taxpayer tens of billions of dollars every year is absolutely amazing." Norquist's energetic opposition to cuts in immigration became much more understandable in April when investigations by the news media revealed that Norquist was something of a double agent. Since Feb. 14, he had also been a registered lobbyist for Bill Gates' Microsoft Corp. which had led a highly public campaign to stop any legislation that might reduce its own ability to hire foreign workers instead of Americans.

Norquist persuaded the very conservative Christian Coalition to treat Smith's bill as a federal action that would contribute to the further decline of the American family. "At a time when the family needs all of the help it can get, the federal government should not be acting, as it does in this legislation, to keep families apart," the coalition director wrote. The letter said the coalition agrees that "a tightly controlled, well-regulated system of legal immigration, like the one we have now, is essential to the security of this country."

In the end, 75 Republicans deserted their own committee leadership and Smith's bill. "I would just like to plead with my fellow members," Brownback, the Kansas Republican, said before the vote, "we are a nation of immigrants. Congress should preserve this proud tradition."

Bryant originally had the task of holding at least enough Democratic votes to counteract the three or four dozen Republicans who had been expected to follow conservative libertarian calls for a large flow of foreign workers. 71 CONSISTENT VOTERS FOR HIGH IMMIGRATION, POPULATION

These U.S. Representatives had the most consistent record of voting in favor of higher immigration and in favor of federally forced population growth during roll call voting March 18-20, 1996.

All of them voted to strip legislation of provisions to cut legal immigration.

Most of them also voted for other amendments to increase the importation of temporary workers.

The ones marked (*) did not vote in favor of the temporary worker programs but neither did they vote for any of the key amendments that would lower importation of workers or cut illegal immigration.

Compared to those who voted the opposite way, the net effect of the voting of each of these representatives would be to force tens of millions of additional foreign workers and their families into the local communities across the United States during the next 50 years.


Browder, Glen (D)

Cramer, Robert (D)


Hayworth, J.D. (R)


Campbell, Tom (R)

Dooley, Calvin (D)

Kim, Jay (R)

Lewis, Jerry (R)

* Lofgren, Zoe (D)

Thomas, William (R)


Allard, Wayne (R)

McInnis, Scott (R)


Johnson, Nancy (R)


Deutsch, Peter (D)

* Diaz-Balart, Lincoln (R) Mica, John (R)

Miller, Dan (R)

Peterson, Douglas (D)

* Ros-Lehtinen, Ileana (R)

Young, W.C. (R)


Bishop, Sanford (D)

Linder, John (R)


LaHood, Ray (R)

Manzullo, Donald (R)


Hamilton, Lee (D)

McIntosh, David (R)

Souder, Mark (R)


Brownback, Sam (R)

Tiahrt, Todd (R)


Livingston, Bob (R) Maryland

Morella, Constance (R)


* Studds, Gerry (D)


Camp, Dave (R)

Chrysler, Dick (R)

Hockstra, Peter (R)

Knollenberg, Joe (R)

Smith, Nick (R)

Upton, Fred (R)


Clay, Bill (D)

Skelton, Ike (D)


Christensen, Jon (R)


Ensign, John (R)

New Jersey

LoBiondo, Frank (R) New York

Forbes, Michael (R)

Gilman, Benjamin (R)

Houghton, Amo (R)

Kelly, Sue (R)

* King, Peter (R)

Lazio, Rick (R)

McHugh, John (R)

Paxon, Bill (R)

Walsh, James (R)

North Carolina

Hefner, W. G. (D)

Myrick, Sue (R)


LaTourette, Steven (R)

Pryce, Deborah (R)


Bunn, Jim (R)


English, Phil (R)

Fox, Jon (R) Goodling, William (R)

Walker, Robert (R)

South Carolina

Sanford, Mark (R)

Spratt, John (D)


Gordon, Bart (D)


Armey, Richard (R)

Bonilla, Henry (R)


Hansen, James (R)


Boucher, Rick (D)

Payne, L.F. (D)


Dunn, Jennifer (R)

White, Rick (R)


Gunderson, Steve (R)


Although all of the other 287 U.S. representatives showed in their voting at least some concern about the effect of immigration on labor markets or on third-world-style U.S. population growth, the net effect of the positions for which they voted would be higher population growth and importation of foreign labor.

If you do not find your U.S. representative in the three other lists, he or she is among these 287 "other high-immigration voters," unless he or she was one of the following voters who were absent on too many votes to allow for a clear assessment California, George Radanovich (R), Pete Stark (D), Maxine Waters (D);Florida, Harry Johnston (D), Clay Shaw (R), Joe Scarborough (R); Illinois, Cardiss Collins (D); Massachusetts, John Moakley (D); Ohio, Lewis Stokes (D); West Virginia, Robert Wise (D).

Of the 287 Representatives in this list, 113 voted against stripping the legislation of cuts in legal immigration. But they voted for temporary worker programs that would add as many or more people to the U.S. labor pools as would have been kept out through the proposed legal cuts.

The other 167 of this group voted in favor of blocking cuts in legal immigration. They are not included in the list of 71 "top high-immigration supporters" because they voted against temporary foreign worker programs. They also tended to vote for one or two of the key measures that would get tougher on stopping illegal immigration and on policing temporary worker programs.

But after the divisive partisan speeches on the floor and Clinton's surprise announcement, 162 Democrats voted to continue the largest permanent foreign worker importation in American history. Only 24 Democrats stood with Bryant, one of the House's top champions of the American worker and the environment, who had cried out at the beginning of debate, "Not one single American job should be jeopardized by U.S. immigration policy."

Signs of Interest In

Reform Still Strong

In historical context, the defeat of efforts to reduce legal immigration contained strong signs of momentum in favor of reform. Until three years ago, not a single member of the House would even introduce legislation to cut legal immigration. Now a near-majority of 183 representatives have voted for such a reduction.

"I say we cannot responsibly avoid the bottom line conclusion that we have a huge number of people entering the country legally, and it is increasing our population rapidly..." - Rep. Bryant Although the House GOP leadership showed no interest in such reform, two out of every three of the Republican members voted for cuts, perhaps suggesting that the power of grassroots sentiment is breaking through establishment barriers. A national party survey of 134,000 local GOP leaders found them opposing current immigration by a margin of 5 to 1. With that kind of popular support, the middle and back-bench Republicans very well may rise to fight another day.

Despite the Democrats' overwhelming rejection of cutting the admissions of hundreds of thousands of adult relatives, they did show great concern about the effects of other kinds of immigration on the labor market. With speeches denouncing the unfair competition to American workers, most Democrats consistently cast votes in ways to prevent the temporary importation of workers. But the power of immigrant sentimentality, ethnic lobbies and Clinton's lead seemed to cloud most Democrats' ability to understand that family chain migration is also a federal program that in effect imports massive numbers of foreign workers - only these come permanently. Many Democrats might eventually realize that importing permanent foreign workers is at least as damaging to U.S. labor as importing temporary ones, especially if they listen more to the grassroots of their party which polls show are only slightly less enthusiastic than Republicans for reductions.

The unwillingness of pro-immigration lobbies and leaders in Congress to compromise at all on legal immigration may help persuade reformers to come back with proposed cuts deep enough to bring the significant relief that the nation appears ready and eager for. The recent Roper Poll commissioned by Negative Population Growth (NPG) found 70 percent of Americans want annual immigration lowered from the million average of the 1990s to below 300,000. Of that percentile, 54 percent want it cut below 100,000. Of that group, 20 percent want an end to all immigration. A more recent USA Today/CNN poll showed that 59 percent of registered Republicans favor a plank in the party platform which calls for a five-year moratorium allowing no immigration at all.

Politicians working toward a level of 250,000 or 150,000 might tap into a groundswell of popular support far more enthusiastic and persuasive than reformers were able to stir up this time with their timid effort to get the numbers below 600,000.

Finally, congressional interest in deeper cuts in immigration is more likely if members connect their actions to the effects on the total population of the country.

The March debate in the House may have included more discussion about population size than at any other time in U.S. history. When he addressed the House, Republican Bob Goodlatte of Virginia held up a large chart showing U.S. population growth if legal immigration isn't cut. Democrats Bryant from Texas and Anthony Beilenson from California led the way with several impassioned speeches about the population traumas likely to result from immigration.

"I say we cannot responsibly avoid the bottom line conclusion that we have a huge number of people entering the country legally," Bryant said, "and it is increasing our population rapidly. ...We either deal with legal immigration or we admit that we are not going to be serious and not going to have enough courage to deal with the really central problem facing this country. ...I would just suggest that not one member of this body can responsibly stand on this floor and talk about ... how we have to maintain national security to protect future generations and not at the same time recognize that we must manage the population growth of this country in a responsible way."

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