The editorial "Immigration Reform," Jan. 18, gives needed attention to an important issue.
My immigration-reform legislation, the "Immigration in the National Interest Act of 1995," closely follows the recommendations of the bipartisan Commission on Immigration Reform. The bill recently passed the House Judiciary Committee by a vote of 23 to 10 and currently has 118 cosponsors. It seeks to reform US immigration policy by affirming the following national interests: securing America's borders and ports of entry; protecting American lives and safety; enforcing our immigration laws; giving spouses and minor children high priority in the immigration system; making America more competitive in the global marketplace; and encouraging immigrants to be self-reliant.
The Immigration in the National Interest Act is scheduled to be considered by the House in mid-March. The editorial will help foster a rational and factual atmosphere for this upcoming debate.
Lamar Smith (R) of Texas
Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims
The editorial is right in terms of its rationale, but short on specifics.
The environmental costs of immigration are certainly large and growing: The nearly 1 million immigrants who come to the United States every year tend to have higher birth rates than the native born.
The high rates of population growth in the United States contribute to urban sprawl, habitat loss, and deforestation.
To fix our broken immigration policy, we should enact a temporary, five-year moratorium on immigration, with an all-inclusive ceiling of 100,000 immigrants a year. Such a policy would lessen the pull for higher levels of immigration that stem from special interests represented in the current flow.
Ultimately, a replacement-level immigration policy - allowing 200,000 annually (the same number emigrate from the US each year) - would ensure environmental protection while maintaining a generous level of immigration.
Mark W. Nowak