Wednesday, April 23, 2008

KQED You Decide: Immigration

Are tougher U.S. immigration laws hurting America?

By Keith Laidlaw

The figures are dramatic: There are now 300 million people living in the United States. That’s twice as many as in 1950, four times the total of 1900. And the numbers will only rise going forward.

Why? According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the population increases by one individual every 30 seconds due to immigration alone: That’s more than a million people per year. The Pew Research Center estimates that 82 percent of population growth between 2005 and 2050 will be caused by immigration, both by people who arrive during that time and by their descendants.

Many look at these figures and worry. Surely we can’t afford to accommodate so many new arrivals. Who is going to pay for their education, health care, housing? Where will they find jobs? Where are the food, water and electricity they need going to come from? And how can we be sure that our enemies aren't among them?

But is increased regulation of who crosses our borders really in our best interests? Where will industry and agriculture find enough workers? What about the valuable contributions immigrants make in terms of culture, ideas, hard work and taxes? And can we ever really keep out those who are determined to harm us, no matter how secure we make our borders?

Think you know where you stand on this issue? During the course of this activity, we will ask you three times: Are tougher U.S. immigration laws hurting America? Based on your responses, we will argue the opposite points of view.

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