Immigration Impact on Environment

Is immigration a main reason for environmental problems in US?

United States has the world’s third largest population of over 311 million following China and India with immigration playing a major role in its population growth. While many other countries are experiencing slow population growth rate due to little immigration and lower replacement birth levels, US has high influx of new arrivals every year. With more and more demand for natural, environmental and economic resources many Environmental Organizations are worried about the enormous growth in population may cause adverse effects on carrying capacity by creating more Population-Environment imbalances. The massive growth in US population is mainly attributed to the following three factors:

  • Fertility: High immigration coupled with existing high fertility rates among ethnic groups like Hispanics. African Americans and Asians have raised the overall population growth in US. According to the 2011 Census the total fertility rate for 2011 is 2.06 at a rate of two children per women with Hispanics and blacks occupying the top two places.
  • Mortality and life expectancy: Life expectancy and mortality patterns vary for immigrants and US born citizens considerably in United States. Compared to their US born counterparts immigrants have better prenatal and adult health with lower disability and mortality rates.
  • Net immigration: As a percentage of US population, the immigration rate has more than doubled from 4.7% in 1970 to 10.4% in 2000 because of the favorable living conditions and vast economic growth. According to the data of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services in 2010, 12.6 million legal permanent residents are living in US with net immigrant rate of 4.18 immigrants/1000 population.

Environmental challenges that US is facing due to enormous population growth:

  • Destroying millions of acres of wild and agricultural lands, threat to wild life and endangered animal species, water shortages in the west and southeast, Carbon emissions are some of the problems encountered by US in the past few years.
  • During the period from 1982 to 2001, it has been estimated that nearly 34 million acres of forest and cropland, an area equal to the size of Illinois, has been converted for the urban development by building new roads for transportation, new houses or new shopping centers.
  • Another major environmental challenge that United States is dealing today is global warming. As a global economic leader and largest producer of CO2 emissions, United States has the responsibility to decrease it by enacting various policies of low fuel consumption and escalate mass transits etc.

Assessing the relationship between the environment and population is done in three main dimensions that include the population scale in relation to resource, its growth rate and the redistribution across resources through migration. The appropriate form of environmental goal with necessary physical infrastructure, water, energy and other important requirements can be achieved by implementing more restriction on US immigration policies and slowing down the continues influx. To establish economically distinct perceptions of sustainability every citizen is liable for environmental awareness to generously share the landscape with others and leave the sufficient natural resources for future generations. Even though there are no significant US statistics on immigration impact in context of environment, scientific study recommends the need to put limit on increasing number of immigrants for a better sustainable society.