Upcoming book looks at the influence of immigration on U.S. economy and environment
Philosophy | December 29, 2014
How Many is too Many? The Progressive Argument for Reducing Immigration into the United States, a forthcoming book written by Colorado State University Philosophy Professor Philip Cafaro, explores the impact that historic and current levels of immigration have exerted on the United States economy and the natural environment. The book, to be published early in 2015 by the University of Chicago Press, explores immigration policy at the state and federal levels and argues that historic and current immigration levels, at roughly 1.5 million immigrants a year, adversely affect both the country’s economic and environmental health.
Cafaro’s book consists of four sections. The first contextualizes the discussion of immigration by reviewing the state of U.S. immigration policy and trends in such policy over the past several decades. Sections two and three examine the economic implications of sizable immigration and the relationship between environmental sustainability and population growth. The last section provides potential solutions for immigration policy reform.
Identifying this as a “book of Colorado stories,” Cafaro interviews dozens of local environmentalists, economists, workers, and immigrants in order to present and analyze diverse standpoints. He argues that excessive immigration has flooded labor markets in economic sectors such as meatpacking and construction, thereby driving down workers’ wages and exacerbating issues of inequality; that it has fostered unsafe working conditions and disempowered certain sectors of the work force; that it has stalled the country’s economic maturation by having kept the nation forever focused on increasing consumption and growth; and it has caused our cities and suburbs to sprawl, thus destroying natural habitats and driving countless species from the landscape, thereby cutting Americans off from their natural environment.
Cafaro concludes with a comprehensive plan for immigration reform that includes the following suggested measures: reduce overall immigration, shift enforcement efforts away from border control and toward employers who knowingly hire illegal workers, and devise aid and foreign policies that will help people create better lives where they are. He supports a targeted amnesty for many of those who have already built their lives in this country. Cafaro criticizes the social, economic, and political culture that promotes endless economic growth while remaining complacent about continued population growth. He offers instead a vision that recognizes the value of a mature and sustainable state of development.
Cafaro hopes that his book will be of interest to people of a variety of political views and that it will encourage thoughtful discussion among fellow progressives and critics alike about the intersection of immigration policy, economics, and the environment.
Philip Cafaro is Professor of Philosophy at Colorado State University. His research interests include environmental ethics, population policy and consumption issues, and biodiversity preservation. He is the author of Thoreau’s Living Ethics and co-editor of Life on the Brink: Environmentalists Confront Overpopulation. Learn more about Dr. Cafaro and read the first chapter of his new book at www.philipcafaro.com.