What books had you so absorbed you found them hard to put down? One for me: the first edition of Man Swarm. When it comes to learning about the many ways overpopulation harms wildlands and wildlife, this book rocked my world. Working with Dave Foreman on the second edition of this book made me want to learn more about the biggest source of population growth in the United States: Immigration.
My interest led me to another page turner of a book that many people will consider quite controversial: How Many is Too Many? The Progressive Argument for Reducing Immigration into the United States by Philip Cafaro. In this book, Cafaro, a philosophy professor and School of Global Environmental Sustainability Faculty Member at Colorado State University, lays out hard-hitting truths about unintended consequences of mass immigration in America today. He delves into mass immigration impacts he claims even progressives have turned a “blind eye” to, including:
“how flooded labor markets in sectors such as meat packing and construction have driven down wages and driven up inequality; how excessive immigration has fostered unsafe working conditions and political disempowerment; how it has stalled our economic maturity by keeping us focused on unsustainable and ever-increasing consumption and growth; and how it has caused our population to grow and our suburbs to sprawl, destroy wildlife habitats, driving countless species from the landscape, and cutting people off from the natural world.”
While immigrants in large part built America and this has become a “motto of optimism and good will” in this country, Cafaro argues with convincing detail that times have definitely changed since the early days of America. As he writes, “The fact of the matter is we can’t afford to take in millions of people anymore.”
I know – this is a big statement. But the more I read Cafaro’s case for reducing mass immigration, the more he helped me see we have a responsibility to reduce immigration when levels get so high they are harming our fellow citizens (which includes immigrants already here) and our society.
America has seen times of restrictive immigration policy in the past with very positive effects. In How Many is Too Many? Cafaro gives a very powerful economic argument for reducing mass immigration. You’ll learn how between 1925 and 1965 reducing immigration numbers turned out to be a “golden age for American labor,” and created the world’s first mass middle class society. You’ll also learn how and why we went from there to where we are today, with a very different situation for the middle class and substantially higher numbers in total immigration (legal and illegal).
Cafaro examines environmental impacts of mass immigration, challenges how we think about economic “growth,” and presents a comprehensive plan to reform immigration policy that progressives will have a hard time saying it’s not in line with their overall political goals. He also takes on the list of objections to reducing immigration and exposes their flaws. All I can say is be ready to learn – a lot – that is not talked about nearly enough.
His treatment of this controversial subject is a must read. As Dave Foreman says of Cafaro: he is “our most trustworthy thinker and writer about immigration matters, because he does not demonize immigrants but rather sympathizes with them.” Cafaro shows how continued high immigration will be “deadly to…our culture of liberty and tolerance.”
If you are reading this and already feel surges of disagreement, I say please read How Many is Too Many? Like I did, I bet you will see a much deeper picture of immigration problems and solutions. No matter what your political persuasion, I also say read it. If there is one book out there to understand the complicated problem of immigration in America, this is it.