On February 19, Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney appeared at a members-only event at the Oxford Union, the private debating society at the U.K.’s University of Oxford. 
He, however, was not debating anyone, but instead talking about current political issues in the U.S. One such issue was U.S. immigration.
“We are desperate — desperate — for more people,” Mulvaney said. “We created 215,000 jobs last month. We are running out of people to fuel the economic growth that we’ve had in our nation over the last four years. We need more immigrants.”
The Trump administration wants those immigrants to come in a “legal fashion.”
Alex Nowrasteh, director of immigration studies at the libertarian Cato Institute, said Mulvaney’s statements were very much in line with the views he often expressed as a GOP congressman from South Carolina. “Mulvaney in Congress was hugely supportive of expanding immigration, and the great thing about having him in this position is that he’s been a voice of sanity, reason and support for the mainstream economic consensus on immigration, which is that it’s good for economy,”
The Mulvaney statements echoed a recent report about U.S. immigration by the U.S. Census Bureau.
A new report by the U.S. Census Bureau examines the impact of different levels of immigration on the growth, age and racial diversity of the U.S. work force.
The report concedes, “International migration is difficult to project because political and economic conditions are nearly impossible to anticipate, yet factor heavily into migration movements into and out of a country. While we make no attempt to predict future policy or economic cycles, we do recognize the uncertainty surrounding migration and the impact that different migration outcomes could have on the future population.” Therefore, the Bureau “produced three alternate sets of projections that use the same methodology and assumptions for fertility, mortality, and emigration but differ in the levels of immigration that they assume: high, low, and zero immigration.”
The report’s summary stated, “Higher international immigration over the next four decades would produce a faster growing, more diverse, and younger population for the United States. In contrast, an absence of migration into the country over this same period would result in a U.S. population that is smaller than the present.”
“Beyond influencing the number of people in the population, immigration patterns over the next four decades will also shape the racial and ethnic composition of the population. In 2016, Asians were the fastest-growing racial group in the nation, and immigration was the primary driver behind the growth in this group. If immigration increases, the Asian alone population could grow by as much as 162 percent between 2016 and 2060 and go from 5.7 percent of the total U.S. population to 10.8 percent. The future size of this population is particularly sensitive to immigration. Under a scenario with no immigration, the Asian alone population in the United States would decline over time, representing just 4.5 percent of the total population in 2060.”
“Regardless of immigration, the population is expected to continue to age between now and 2060. Low fertility rates coupled with large cohorts of baby boomers reaching their ‘golden years’ are expected to shift the age distribution of the population so that the share of the population aged 65 and older exceeds the share of the population under the age of 18. The timing of this shift, however, will vary depending on the amount of immigration that occurs. High immigration levels will delay this milestone more than a decade relative to scenarios with lower levels of migration.”
“Over the next four decades, the population is expected to increase from its 2016 level in two out of the three alternative scenarios. In the high scenario, the population will increase by 124 million, reaching 447 million in 2060. In the low scenario, the 2060 population is projected to be 376 million, representing an increase of 53 million people. Under a zero immigration scenario, the population is projected to increase until 2035, at which point the population would peak at 333 million. After that, the population is projected to decline through 2060, when it could reach a low of 320 million.”
“The share of the population that is White alone is projected to decline in all scenarios of population projections between 2016 and 2060. For the high, middle, and low scenarios, the number of residents classified as White alone actually increases from the 2016 values, but these increases are outpaced by increases in the other racial and ethnic groups. “
“The population aged 65 and older is projected to surpass the population under the age of 18 in size in all immigration scenarios. The date at which this occurs is earliest in the zero immigration scenario (2029), followed by the low immigration scenario (2031), and then the high (2045). By 2030, more than 20 percent of the U.S. population will be aged 65 and older. In the high scenario, this milestone is reached in 2028. For the low scenario, it occurs in 2026; and in 2025 for the zero scenario.”
William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution, reviewed the report and concluded, “We desperately need immigration tokeep our country growingand prosperous.The reason we have a good growth rate in comparison to other developed countries in the world is because we’ve had robust immigration for the last 30 to 40 years.”
As noted in a prior post, “on December 30, the U.S. Census Bureau issued its official population estimates for 2019 showing, as expected, a slowdown in overall growth of population and reduced population in 10 states: New York, Illinois, West Virginia, Louisiana, Connecticut, Mississippi, Hawaii, New Jersey,Alaska and Vermont. In addition, the Census Bureau stated, “U.S. population is expected to grow 6.6% in the 2020s, a slide from 7.5% growth this decade” and “urban and rural areas across the country will divide further in the deceleration.”
The slow growth of U.S. population, as discussed in the prior post, is due to several factors: (1) the “U.S. fertility rate—the number of children each woman can be expected to have over her lifetime—has dropped from 2.1 in 2007 to 1.7 in 2018, the lowest on record.” (2) “Death rates, already rising because the population is older, have been pressured further by ‘deaths of despair’—suicide, drug overdoses and alcohol-related illness.” (3) U.S. immigration “has been trending flat to lower” and is subject to anti-immigration policies of the Trump Administration.
An editorial in the Washington Post notes that this may cause a positive reduction in the demand for resources. However, the reduced population growth “may mean less economic growth and a diminished support base for a large retired cohort” as well as a warning that “starting a new life in the United States has come to seem less attractive, both to prospective parents already living here and to prospective arrivals from abroad.”
This, said the Post, “is a warning” that “the need for more [immigration] is real,” which “this country cannot afford to ignore.” 
Lower population growth is not the problem in rural America. Declining population is its problem. This situation recently was examined at the Regional Economic Conditions Conference of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis by Beth Ford, the CEO of Land O’Lakes, the Minnesota-based, member-owned agricultural cooperative.
She said this population problem was exacerbated by problems in the agriculture economy. “Consolidation was happening across agriculture because of oversupply.” The average age of farmers was rising, and it is awfully difficult for young want-to-be farmers to get into the business, resulting in widows owning 60% of Iowa’s farmland. Many dairy farmers are surviving by taking jobs off the farm. Conventional corn and soybean farming will continue although the farming incentive structure will have to change over time. “Farmers are raising wages for help, but can’t find people who want to do the work.” Consolidation of farms continues because of economies of scale. The rural communities where farmers live are struggling to survive. Under these conditions, government subsidies for agriculture are necessary.
 Recent letters to the Post disagreed with the conclusion that lower population growth was a problem. Instead, one letter argued that a “decreasing population would naturally buy the United States more time to use the limited amount of resources we have, to find a bipartisan plan of attack against climate change and to create legislation to protect the environment.” Another letter said that “slower population growth provides an opportunity for us to lift up the next generation so we can have a healthy, skilled, productive workforce” by focusing resources and attention on “the 13 million children trapped in poverty.” (Letters to Editor, Slow population growth is a good thing, Wash. Post (Jan. 9, 2020).
Previous posts have pointed out the U.S. need for more immigrants, in the opinion of this blogger. This conclusion follows from the U.S. declining birth rate, the aging, declining population of the rural parts of many states and the current low unemployment rates and the difficulties many companies are facing in finding additional workers.
Bret Stephens, a conservative New York Times columnist, eloquently reiterates these same points: (1) “The U.S. fertility rate has fallen to a record low.” (2) “Americans are getting older.” (3) There are “labor shortages in multiple industries throughout the country [that] inhibit business growth.” (4) “Much of rural or small-town America is emptying out.” (5) “The immigrant share (including the undocumented) of the U.S. population is not especially large.” 
Then Stephens adds a sixth, and more controversial, reason: “immigrants — legal or otherwise — make better citizens than native-born Americans. More entrepreneurial. More church-going. Less likely to have kids out of wedlock. Far less likely to commit crime.” This reason is supported by (a) a 2015 National Academy of Sciences study that concluded that “immigrants are . . . much less likely than natives to commit crimes;” (b) a 2017 Cato Institute report that 0.85 percent of undocumented immigrants are incarcerated compared with 1.53 percent of native-born Americans; and (c) a 2018 Marshall Project analysis of 200 metropolitan areas in the U.S. with falling crime while their immigrant population was increasing.
Another concurring opinion was voiced in the Wall Street Journal earlier this year by Neel Kashkari, the President of the Minneapolis’ Federal Reserve Bank. He said, “Robust immigration levels are vital to growing the American economy.” The reason is simple: immigration should lead to population growth, which “drives economic growth because a larger population means more workers to produce things and more consumers to buy things.” He concludes, “Immigration is as close to a free lunch as there is for America. Our welcoming culture provides us an unfair competitive advantage most countries would love to have. Let’s use that advantage to win the immigration competition and accelerate growth. We’d be crazy not to.”
The impact of an aging American population is also the focus of another Wall Street Journal article. It says the U.S. is becoming “a country with fewer workers to support the elderly—a shift that will add to strains on retirement programs such as Social Security and sharpen the national debate on the role of immigration in the workforce.”
Yet another fact supporting this need for more immigrants is the June 21 U.S. Census Bureau report of estimated U.S. population “that showed, for the first time, a decline in the white population. The drop was small, just 0.02 percent, or 31,516 people in the year ending last July. But a demographer at the bureau, Molly Cromwell, said that it was real, and followed a 9,475 person drop the year before. That one was so small that it was essentially viewed as no change, she said.”
This change was associated with deaths exceeding births among white people in more than half of the states in the country. Here is a map of the U.S. with states in blue having more white deaths than births in 2016.
The Census Bureau had been projecting “that whites could drop below 50 percent of the population around 2045, a relatively slow-moving change that has been years in the making.” But this new report leads some demographers to say that shift might come even sooner.
“The change has broad implications for identity and for the country’s political and economic life, transforming a mostly white baby boomer society into a multiethnic and racial patchwork. A majority of the youngest Americans are already non-white and look less like older generations than at any point in modern American history.”
Some political observers believe this current and future demographic change was a potent issue in the 2016 presidential election that helped drive many white voters to support Donald Trump.
Another New York Times columnist, Paul Krugman, sees many Americans exhibiting hatred of immigrants fueled by false beliefs that they are murderers and rapists and criminals or by what Krugman calls “sick fantasies.” He asks, “Where does this fear and hatred of immigrants come from? A lot of it seems to be fear of the unknown: The most anti-immigrant states seem to be places, like West Virginia, where hardly any immigrants live.” He concludes, “the real crisis is an upsurge in hatred — unreasoning hatred that bears no relationship to anything the . . .[immigrants] have done. And anyone making excuses for that hatred — who tries, for example, to turn it into a “both sides” story — is, in effect, an apologist for crimes against humanity.”
These demographic changes and challenges are not unique to the U.S. An article in the New York Times “states, “Immigration is reshaping societies around the globe. Barriers erected by wealthier nations have been unable to keep out those from the global South — typically poor, and often desperate — who come searching for work and a better life. While immigrants have often delivered economic benefits to the countries taking them in, they have also shaken the prevailing order and upended the politics of the industrialized world — where the native-born often exaggerate both their numbers and their needs.” Their article has many amazing global maps regarding immigration flows.
It is easy to understand why many people fear these changes in the makeup of their communities and seek political answers that purportedly will stop these changes. Those of us who do not share this fear need to develop a message that emphasizes the constancy of change in human life on this planet, that these changes will have positive effects on life in the U.S. and that we as a society can cope with any negative effects.
Another element in this effort should be emphasizing the well-established fact that in any large group of people—be they immigrants or Republicans or Democrats or business executives or farmers—there will be a few “bad apples.” But the “bad apples” should not define the group as a whole. The American people at large get this point as a recent public opinion poll indicated that 75% of them believe immigration generally is good for the nation.
We also have to battle against the vile rhetoric of Donald Trump, who just this week said his hardline stance on immigration was aimed at stopping the “death and destruction caused by people that [sic] shouldn’t be here.” He emphasized this point by having with him “angel families,” who are relatives of people who had been killed by undocumented aliens and who talked about their legitimate grief over loss of loved ones.
A good answer to such rhetoric was provided by John Rash, an editorial writer and columnist for the StarTribune (Minnesota’s largest circulation newspaper), in discussing a new exhibit at the Minnesota History Center: “Somalis + Minnesota.” This exhibit, he says, “shows how migrants enrich Minnesota” by highlighting “the lives of a cultural cross-section of some [of the 57,000 Somali-Minnesotans,] including state Rep. Ilhan Omar, who made her own news after topping another immigrant, state Sen. Patricia Torres Ray, to get the DFL Party endorsement for the Fifth District congressional race.” Rash adds, “the settlement of Somalis is just the latest contribution to Minnesota’s mosaic. Recent years have seen Vietnamese, Hmong, Karen and other immigrant communities enrich the state.”
With longer life expectancy, increasing numbers of baby-boomer retirements from the active labor force and a low birth rate that now is lower than the death rate, the U.S. increasingly faces the need to find more workers. The source is obvious: more immigrants.
A noted business publication, Barron’s, put it this way, “Across the nation, in industries as varied as trucking, construction, retailing, fast food, oil drilling, technology, and manufacturing, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find good help. And with the economy in its ninth year of growth and another baby boomer retiring every nine seconds, the labor crunch is about to get much worse.”
“Census Bureau projections show the overall U.S. population, a rough proxy for the country’s demand for goods and services, growing faster than the workforce— which supplies those goods and services— through 2030 and probably beyond. From 2017 to 2027, the nation faces a shortage of 8.2 million workers, according to Thomas Lee, head of research at Fundstrat Global Advisors.”
Another restriction on labor supply is the “people [who] have dropped out of the workforce, owing to factors such as disability, opioid addiction, and prison records that make it hard to snare jobs. The labor force participation rate, which measures the percentage of the adult population that’s working or actively seeking employment, has dropped to 63% from 67% in 2000.”
A Washington Post editorial opens with this statement: “American employers in an array of industries — manufacturing, agriculture, trucking, home building, energy, food service, retail and others — are warning that a long-brewing labor shortage is reaching crisis proportions.”
While the U.S. needs more skilled and English language-proficient immigrants, the editorial continues, “employers in food processing, retail, landscaping and other industries that rely on low-skilled labor are already desperate for workers.”
“By driving away legal and illegal immigrants even as unemployment flatlines and baby boomers retire, [President Trump] deprives businesses of oxygen in the form of labor. That’s not a recipe for making America great.”
On February 27, 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder, No. 12-96, which raises the following issue:
“Whether Congress’ decision in 2006 to reauthorize [for 25 years] Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act [of 1965] under the pre-existing coverage formula of Section 4(b) of [that] Act [requiring certain states to obtain preclearance from the U.S. Department of Justice or a special federal court for any changes in their election laws] exceeded its authority under the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments and thus violated the Tenth Amendment and Article IV of the United States Constitution.”
As has been frequently reported, during the argument Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justices Antonin Scalia, Samuel Alito and Anthony Kennedy asked questions and made comments strongly suggesting that they were prepared to invalidate this statutory provision, a conclusion that already had been reached by Associate Justice Clarence Thomas in a prior case. If this is a correct reading of the recent argument, then there would be at least a 5-4 majority on the Court to declare the provision unconstitutional.
According to Linda Greenhouse, a leading Supreme Court follower, the “goal of [the petitioner] Shelby County and [apparently a majority] . . . on the Supreme Court is to depict Section 5 as an anachronism, a needless cudgel held by the big bad federal government over the head of a transformed South.“
Here are just a couple of examples of that attitude from the argument.
Chief Justice Roberts asked or, as Greenhouse put it, “taunted” the U.S. Government’s lawyer (Solicitor General Donald Verrilli) with the following questions (and Roberts’ own answers) apparently to express Roberts’ belief that Mississippi has a better record than Massachusetts on black voter registration and turnout and that the Voting Rights Act provision at issue is no longer needed and, therefore, unconstitutional:
“Do you know how many submissions there were for preclearance to the Attorney General in 2005?” (Roberts: “3700.”)
“Do you know how many objections the Attorney General lodged?” (Verrilli: “There was one in that year.”)
“[D]o you know which State has the worst ratio of white voter turnout to African American voter turnout?” (Roberts: “Massachusetts.”)
“[W]hat [state] has the best, where African American turnout actually exceeds white turnout?” (Roberts: “Mississippi.”)
“Which State has the greatest disparity in registration between white and African American?” (Roberts: “Massachusetts. Third is Mississippi, where again the African American registration rate is higher than the white registration rate.”)
“[I]s it the government’s submission that the citizens in the South are more racist than citizens in the North?” (Verrilli: “It is not.”)
Roberts did not identify the source of his statistics, but afterwards the Massachusetts Secretary of State, William F. Galvin, and political scientists speculated that Roberts drew his conclusions from the U.S. Census Bureau’s “The Current Population Survey,” which collects information on voting and registration every other year. This data, however, should not be used in the way that Roberts did because of their large margins of error, as reported by Nina Totenberg of National Public Radio.
Indeed, Secretary Galvin said that Roberts’ assertion about Massachusetts and Mississippi is just plain wrong and that the only way that the Census Bureau source supports Roberts’ assertion is by including Massachusetts’ non-citizen blacks who are not entitled to vote. To do what Roberts did, according to Galvin, is “deceptive” and “a slur on black voters in Massachusetts.”
Nate Silver, the statistician, also criticizes Roberts’ trumpeting these figures about Mississippi and Massachusetts apparently to justify a conclusion that the Voting Rights Act provisions in question are no longer needed and, therefore, unconstitutional.
According to Silver, “If [Roberts] . . . meant to suggest that states covered by Section 5 consistently have better black turnout rates than those that aren’t covered by the statute, then his claim is especially dubious.” Moreover, says Silver, it is outright fallacious to conclude from this simple comparison of two states, however flawed the data, that the provisions of section 5 of the Voting Rights Act and the formula in section 4(b) are no longer needed. For example, such data say nothing about whether whatever gains have been made in racial minority voting “might be lost if the Section 5 requirements were dropped now.”
I also fault the Chief Justice for focusing on only one small piece of evidence, however flawed or subject to qualification. Instead, he should be focusing on fundamental principles of judicial restraint as repeatedly proclaimed by the U.S. Supreme Court itself and as cited by the D.C. Circuit in its opinion in this case.
These precedents emphasize that “Congress’s laws are entitled to a ‘presumption of validity’” and that “when Congress acts pursuant to its enforcement authority under the Reconstruction Amendments [including the Fifteenth Amendment], its judgments about ‘what legislation is needed . . . are entitled to much deference.‘“ Such deference is paid “‘out of respect for [Congress’] . . . authority to exercise the legislative power,’” and in recognition that Congress “is far better equipped than the judiciary to amass and evaluate the vast amounts of data bearing upon legislative questions.” (Citations omitted.)
Associate Justice Scalia also interrupted Solicitor General Verrilli to make this long statement:
“This Court doesn’t like to get involved . . . in racial questions such as this one. It’s something that can be . . . left to Congress.
“The problem here, however, is . . . that the initial enactment of this legislation in a time when the need for it was so much more abundantly clear . . . in the Senate, . . . it was double-digits against it. And that was only a 5-year term. Then, it is reenacted 5 years later, again for a 5-year term. Double-digits against it in the Senate. Then it was reenacted for 7 years. Single digits against it. Then enacted for 25 years, 8 Senate votes against it.
“And this last enactment [in 2006], not a single vote in the Senate against it. And the House is pretty much the same.
“Now, I don’t think that’s attributable to the fact that it is so much clearer now that we need this. I think it is . . . very likely attributable, to a phenomenon that is called perpetuation of racial entitlement. It’s been written about. Whenever a society adopts racial entitlements, it is very difficult to get out of them through the normal political processes. I don’t think there is anything to be gained by any Senator to vote against continuation of this act. And I am fairly confident it will be reenacted in perpetuity . . . unless a court can say it does not comport with the Constitution.
“You have to show, when you are treating different States differently, that there’s a good reason for it. That’s . . . the concern that those of us . . . who have some questions about this statute have. It’s . . . a concern that this is not the kind of a question you can leave to Congress.
“There are certain districts in the House that are black districts by law just about now. And even the Virginia Senators, they have no interest in voting against this. The State government is not their government, and they are going to lose . . . votes if they do not reenact the Voting Rights Act.
“Even the name of it is wonderful: The Voting Rights Act. Who is going to vote against that in the future?”
These remarks are shocking and totally inconsistent with the Court’s long-established principles of judicial restraint mentioned above and with Justice Scalia’s persistently stated views about judicial interpretation of statutes.
Indeed, Scalia’s remarks provoked the Washington Post’s Editorial Board to proclaim that Scalia was in “contempt of Congress.” The editorial concluded with these words, “Congress, after careful review, came to an overwhelming conclusion that protection of the franchise in America is much improved but not guaranteed, especially in certain areas. We heard in . . . [the Supreme Court] argument no grounds for the court to claim superior wisdom on that question.”
What is your opinion on how the Voting Rights Act issue should be resolved? Some argue for holding that provision unconstitutional. Others agree with me that the provision should be upheld.
I went to the University of Chicago Law School before Mr. Scalia was on the faculty, and I have never met him. By all reports, he is a brilliant man who is gracious and funny in social settings. But his comments in this and other Court arguments along with some of his opinions lead me to believe that life tenure for Supreme Court Justices and perhaps other federal judges causes at least some of them to believe that they are omniscient.
A possible solution to such arrogance, as I suggested in a comment to a prior post, is to amend the U.S. Constitution to impose a term limit on U.S. Supreme Court Justices and perhaps other federal judges. All 50 states in the U.S. and all major nations have age or term limits for high-court judges. The International Criminal Court limits its judges to one term of nine years. Such limits are not seen as restrictions on the necessary independence of the judiciary.
The U.S. Constitution does not specifically grant life tenure to the justices or other federal judges. The Constitution merely says, “The Judges, both of the supreme and inferior Courts, shall hold their Offices during good Behaviour . . . .” Paul Carrington, a Duke University law professor, has suggested that the “good Behaviour” provision was not intended to provide life-time appointments and that term limits could be imposed by statute.
 This issue was phrased by the Supreme Court itself in granting review of the case. Previous posts have reviewed the Voting Rights Act of 1965; the Voting Rights Act of 2006; the prior Supreme Court case regarding the latter statute (Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District No. One v. Holder); and the decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in the Shelby County case. The transcript of the recent Supreme Court arguments in Shelby County is available online as are the petitioner’s brief, the respondent’s brief for the U.S. Government and the reply brief for the petitioner in the case. Other briefs in the case for three intervenors, 19 amici curiae (friends of the court) supporting the petitioner and 28 amici curiae supporting the U.S. Government can also be found on the web. Excellent commentaries about the case are available on the respected scotusblog.
 Roberts’ hostility to the Voting Rights Act apparently goes back to 1981 when as a young lawyer in the Department of Justice he was working on Reagan Administration efforts to weaken the Voting Rights Act.
E.g., Room for Debate: Is the Voting Rights Act Still Needed?, N.Y. Times (Feb. 27, 2013) (Wydra; Charles & Fuentes-Rohwer; Garza; Smith), supra; Savage, Decision on Voting Law Could Limit Oversight, N.Y. Times (Feb. 28, 2013), supra.