The 'One-Off' Migrants: A Proposed Fantasy Immigration Policy

By David North on February 4, 2011

As a CIS Backgrounder has documented, immigrants and their children have accounted for about three-quarters of our population growth in recent decades.

Well, suppose we could identify a class of arriving immigrants who neither had children, nor would have children in the future. Such migrants would make a passing contribution to the size of the current population, but after they died there would be no follow-on impact on our future population. I will use the British term and call them "one-off immigrants".

If you are worried about too many people in our inner cities, too much farmland gobbled up by suburban sprawl, too many pressures on our decaying infrastructure, then you might think of these one-offs as the most desirable of all immigrants.

My suggestion is that anyone otherwise eligible wanting to come to the U.S. who promised not to have children and who vowed not to seek admission of any other immigrants should be placed at the head of the waiting line, and that their admissions would substitute for people in the family preference categories (other than immediate relatives of citizens who are not numerically controlled anyway).

This new policy would neither reduce nor increase the number of legal immigrants coming to the U.S. in a given year, but it would assure us that there would be no follow-on population impact from this segment of the immigration flow.

This admittedly unlikely policy development would need to be defined with care, but it could favor the admission of certain attractive populations, such as priests, nuns, and older people with assured retirement incomes and health insurance.

The one-off migrants, in this dream proposal, all would, in exchange for their visa, sign a formal agreement with the government saying that if they become a birth parent they would lose their right to be in America, that they know that they will be removed from the nation immediately, and that they would have no recourse to the courts on this matter.

Adjudicators would be encouraged to discriminate in favor of one-off applicants over the age of 50. Adoptions by one-off immigrants of children legally resident in the U.S. would be acceptable as such actions would not add to the population.

The politics of such a proposal would be interesting. The Catholic Church would face a provision that would allow it to bring in an unlimited number of priests and nuns, something that is now covered by a numerical limit; on the other hand, the program could be used by gay and lesbian Americans to bring in their partners, which the Church would oppose.

Some restrictionists – those that worry about the explosive growth of the American population would be also be torn, if they happen, simultaneously, to have dim views of same-sex marriage, as I do not.

The gay and lesbian community might be split as well, because while the provision would permit gay male Americans to bring in their partners as immigrants, it would allow lesbians do so only if they foreswore becoming pregnant.

Further, Canadian retirees, now living all or part of the year in the American south, often in illegal status, could live in the nation legally; they would benefit from the program without adding to our future population. They should be able to sway the Florida delegation.

On the other hand, people who like the current system of chain migration would oppose this reform, as no chains of migration would ensue.

This idea came to me the other day at one of those USCIS stakeholder meetings in Washington; the two (I assume unrelated) people next to me, a man and a woman, said that they were with Immigration Equality, an advocacy group wanting non-heterosexual Americans to have the same rights of bringing in their partners as heterosexual Americans do. It struck me that, given some restrictions as noted above, that theirs would be an attractive proposal for people worried about the follow-on effects of the immigration of "breeders". (This is a term used, I think in a neutral way, by non-heterosexuals when they discuss the majority population; the people at the meeting did not use the term.)

My neighbors at the conference said that they were dealing with a relatively small population. They said that Census data showed that there were 36,000 same sex couples living together in which one partner was a U.S. citizen and the other was not.

When I asked them about their congressional allies, they said that they were not lobbyists for their organization, but they knew that more than one hundred representatives had signed up to support their bill, which is presumably less sweeping than my proposal.

When pressed for specific names, the one mentioned was Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) who is, among other things, the member for Greenwich Village.