Last week, I sat down in Washington, DC with Leah Durant, Executive Director of "Progressives for Immigration reform." www.progressivesforimmigrationreform.org
Together, Ms. Durant and I watched a sobering slide show by Dr. Jack Alpert on sustainability: www.skil.org After the program, we discussed "Temporal Blindness" as espoused by Alpert, "Temporal blindness is a limitation in cognitive process. People with temporal blindness cannot gather and process available information into predictions of future conditions. Their processes cannot connect future conditions to a causing behavior. When their processes do create unpleasant predictions, and identify the causal behavior, they fail to create enough present meaning for the future conditions to motivate a change in that behavior."
In other words, Americans cannot escape their own assumptions that the way the 20th century unfolded with unlimited wealth and consumption--could ever vanish. Therefore, they continue their profligate consumption, waste and population growth as if nothing negative will become of their actions. Even with unavoidable realities piling up faster than the Titanic sank!
Later we discussed what we saw and what her organization strives to accomplish.
Ms. Durant served as an attorney with the Civil Division of the United States Department of Justice. She works for sustainable living initiatives within the U.S. and internationally. She earned a B.A. at the University of Maryland and a J.D. from the University Of Maryland School Of Law.
"Progressives for immigration reform is a non-profit organization that supports the principles of protecting workers' rights and ensuring fair wages for America's workforce," said Durant.
Her website includes information on all aspects of immigration. The Pulse Opinion Survey, conducted April 2009 revealed:
67 percent of liberals felt the level of population growth caused by immigration negatively impacts the quality of life in the U.S.
58 percent felt that current levels of immigration are harmful to the environment.
63 percent said that current levels of immigration hurts job prospects for American workers.
How does immigration impact American labor?
"The number of immigrants living and working in the United States is growing at an unprecedented rate," said Durant. "Statistics issued by the U.S. Census Bureau indicate that 1.6 million legal and illegal immigrants settle in the country each year, with the U.S. netting somewhere around 1.25 million new immigrants yearly. The large number of new immigrants added to the workforce through legal and legal immigration has major implications on the availability of jobs for many Americans. Unemployment rates in the U.S. are now the highest in over 16 years. Statistics issued by the Bureau of Labor for January 2009, reveal a national unemployment rate of 7.6 percent, with 11.6 million Americans reportedly out of work. (Currently at 9.6 percent and 15 million Americans out of work.)
"In the midst of the current economic crisis, growing numbers of Americans are being displaced by lower cost legal and illegal immigrant workers. Many businesses take advantage of illegal and cheap foreign labor as a way of reducing costs and increasing profits.
"Of particular concern is the impact that continued large-scale importation of workers has on those Americans at the lower end of the socio-economic scale. According to the Current Population Survey (CPS), which is collected monthly by the Census Bureau for the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in Fiscal Year 2008, 1.45 million new immigrants gained legal authorization to work in the United States. In addition to these new, legal foreign workers, The Pew Hispanic Center estimates that during that same year, 7.7 million illegal aliens were employed in the United States. Nationally, some estimates for the number of American workers displaced by immigration each year are as high as two million.
"Adding millions of newcomers to the work force creates unfair competition and reduces wages and the availability of jobs for all workers. It is essential that immigration policy consider the impacts that mass immigration has on native-born and legal American workers."