We’re talking about a population increase under the senate bill of over 70 million people in 20 years.
-Dan Stein, July 7, 2013
Thursday was the 25th anniversary of World Population Day. Nationally and internationally, population policy has long been a battleground for reproductive rights and racial justice. As groups all over the world chime in about population issues from teen pregnancy to immigration, it is important to examine the accuracy and the use of such claims.
Last Sunday, Dan Stein said in a televised interview on Face the Nation that the Senate immigration reform bill “unleashes a massive increase in overall immigration […] We’re talking about a population increase under the senate bill of over 70 million people in 20 years.”
Stein, president of Federation of Americans for Immigration Reform (FAIR), used the 70 million number to argue that the reform bill “gives up on the American worker.” The number is suspiciously high, however, and reporters at Politifact investigated the claim and found that Stein distorted the facts:
While credible estimates do say the U.S. population could grow by 65 million between 2013 and 2033, only about 16 million of that would be increases resulting from the Senate bill. The remaining 49 million, or three-quarters of the total, would come from natural population growth among people already in America and by immigration that’s deemed legal under today’s laws — and thus would have nothing to do with whether the Senate bill passes or not.
Politifact’s analysis reveals that FAIR and its partner organization, the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) have been wildly inaccurate in their immigration and population numbers. Both are part of the John Tanton network, a powerful constellation of anti-immigrant groups that attempts to limit population growth by enacting harsh immigration policy. CIS and FAIR, along with Tanton Network front group Progressives for Immigration Reform, have used grossly inflated numbers and the language of overpopulation to advocate for extreme restrictions on immigration to the US.
Exaggeration of population growth is nothing new for the Tanton Network. In the early 1990s, a CIS booklet titled “Fifty Million Californians?” was the centerpiece of a direct mail campaign. Author Leon Bouvier, contracted by John Tanton, argued in the booklet that California’s population would reach 50 million by 2020, and that such an increase would have a disastrous impact on the state’s natural and financial resources. Since then, Californians for Population Stabilization (CAPS) has continued to promote the book and scapegoat immigrants, claiming “Virtually All of California’s Problems Can Be Traced Back to Too Many People” and that immigrants are responsible for 98% of the state’s population growth. While such statements clearly reveal the politics of the organization, it has had to change its demographic projections: CAPS now warns that California will hit 50 million residents by 2032.
As their shifting numbers indicate, the anti-immigrant movement is not going for accuracy, but instead is intentionally misleading the public to pursue its nativist goals.