Winning the Battle for Immigration Reduction: Achieving an Immigration Moratorium

All-Inclusive Ceiling vs. Category Approach

The Immigration reduction movement's legislative losses over the past two decades can be traced in large part to pushing for reduction using the "category approach." Merely arguing against a specific increase in any particular category, e.g., HI-B Visas, is almost always a strategic, tactical, political, and public relations mistake. In using such a "category approach," we implicitly send an (incorrect) message that mass immigration of over one million legal immigrants per year is okay. This approach plays into the hands of the opposition — the proponents of mass immigration. Trying to reduce individual categories (e.g. asylees, extended family members, skilled workers) results in the ultimate numbers being the outcome of horse trading, pressure tactics and intense lobbying by wealthy special interests — areas in which our opposition is skilled, powerful, and well financed.

The key to breaking this cycle of losses and preventing a repetition of defeats is to push exclusively for an all-inclusive limit on total immigration by fixing the ceiling first in a moratorium bill (such as the Mass Immigration Reduction Act introduced in the 106th Congress by Rep. Bob Stump (R-AZ)); that is, by fixing an all-inclusive ceiling covering all categories of immigration (including refugees and asylees) collectively before individual category quotas are set. One major strength of pushing for a moratorium is that it is such an all-inclusive approach. An all-inclusive moratorium on all immigration in excess of 100,000 per year (followed by a replacement-level of 200,000) would eventually allow the U.S.A. to achieve population stabilization. If an all-inclusive cap were enacted, the special interests would have to bargain or horse trade over numbers for the various categories under that fixed limit. The principle of an all-inclusive fixed ceiling is the critical element—simplicity and inclusivity are its strong suits. Pushing exclusively for such an all-inclusive moratorium is essential to avoid the weakness of the category approach. Conversely, pushing for reductions using the category approach may actually diminish the pressure for immigration.

Pushing exclusively for a Moratorium is also essential because three of the most nationally prominent supporters of immigration reduction, former Presidential candidate Pat Buchanan, Representative Tom Tancredo, and Representative Bob Stump, have all supported an Immigration Moratorium as the way to reduce legal immigration (three times illegal immigration). We must unify to push the solution supported by our national leaders — a Moratorium.

Necessary and Realistic

One might claim that this moratorium approach is unrealistic because it is very hard to get an agreement on an overall fixed ceiling at any number. It is true that getting such an agreement is difficult, but there are many advantages which make pushing for it essential.

First, it maintains pressure for lower numbers on a very wide variety of bills introduced by members of Congress which would make reductions in various categories. As the unified alliance in favor of a moratorium becomes stronger and stronger, deeper and deeper cuts in the categories will become more and more likely because, members of Congress would be able to say, "If we don't cut these categories, these moratorium people will succeed." Thus, pushing only the moratorium approach down to the bitter end of any particular Congressional session actually maintains maximum pressure to reduce all categories and enhances our chances of getting a moratorium!

The moratorium is "temporary," namely, for five years, thus providing a "time-out" to deal with the problems which immigration causes or makes more difficult to solve. The concept "moratorium" is easily understood by and serves as a rallying point for the public. The "temporary" (i.e. five years) nature of the moratorium allows those politicians who may not otherwise have the courage to support permanent limitations, to advocate a reduction. As well, it would give the USA a much-needed respite from mass immigration.

Pushing for a moratorium puts the focus on the total number of immigrants, and the fact that creating a fixed all-inclusive ceiling is an essential first step. The focus on total numbers, rather than categories, is essential for demonstrating that population growth harms the environment, because it is the increase in total numbers that causes the harm.

Widespread across-the-board support for significant immigration reduction is reflected in numerous polls, such as the Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll indicating that a majority of Americans favor a five-year moratorium on all immigration.

Pushing for a moratorium as a first step, or "time-out," with a specific numeric goal to defend, will provide cover and help politicians resist the inevitable onslaught by special interest groups intent on protecting their vested interests.

For activists, a moratorium provides an essential rallying point as well as a means of holding politician's "feet to the fire." Achieving a moratorium overall immigration in excess of 100,000 per year is an essential first step to attaining U.S. population stabilization.

A moratorium provides a new approach we can all unify behind to set the terms of the debate and attract media attention. This is the only way to move away from the same old equation and no longer play by the opposition's rules, which has cost us so dearly in legislative sessions. The moratorium approach provides a number of ideas which are highly controversial, and will give politician and the media a new focus for this year. Exclusively advocating an all- inclusive moratorium puts the pressure and the burden of proof on the other side to justify increased and current levels of immigration. To win, we must use the non-category approach: push for an all-inclusive 5-year moratorium on all immigration in excess of 100,000 per year.

Some may see a moratorium as unrealistic, but they forget that watershed events and/or plain old good organizing can change the public's mood very quickly. The immigration reduction movement sorely needs to unite behind and rally around this moratorium. We have no time to waste.


Home | About CCN | Support CCN | Publications | Action Alert | Links