Santorum Gets High Marks on Immigration from Population Control Advocates

Former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) (photo credit: Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 2.0)
Former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) (photo credit: Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 2.0)

Earlier this month, Rick Santorum announced he would be supporting a plan to reduce legal immigration to the U.S. by 25 percent, setting himself apart as easily the most restrictionist candidate in the GOP field thus far.  Predictably, his proposals have drawn praise from the restrictionist group NumbersUSA, which will reportedly be grading the candidates on the issue:

The best “grade” of either announced or possible GOP candidates is Rick Santorum, the former Pennsylvania senator.

“He’s likely going to get an A, maybe even an A-plus just as an example,” Beck says of Santorum, who has announced a decision is coming.

Santorum, Beck insists, has “set the bar” for Numbers USA’s grading scale.

There is a certain irony in Santorum’s and NumbersUSA’s newfound congruity.  While NumbersUSA advocates for restricting immigration in order to slow American population growth, which it says is “unsustainable” and has “had a negative effect on the quality of life of many Americans today,” Santorum has been outspoken in his concern about low American birth rates and the need to support families with children.  Take, for example, an interview Santorum gave on “Fox News Sunday” in 2012, where he defended his plan to triple the child tax credit by pointing to declining birth rates:

Yes, well, you look at what’s going on in Europe today. What they have a tax code just similar — actually worse than ours with respect to families and children.

And guess what’s happening? They have a demographic winter going on. People aren’t having children. Why? Because it’s so expensive and government does nothing to help them.

[…]

…[W]e need and actually want children to be here in America and the government has a policy of helping and supporting families because children are the greatest resource. They’re the natural resource that creates wealth in this country.

And if it wasn’t for immigration, our population would be declining. And one of the biggest reasons, Chris, is the financial burden on families. And the federal government over the years has year by year by year decreased support for families. And guess what’s happening? Year by year by year, birth rates are going down.

Interestingly, Santorum notes here that immigration is, in fact, helping the U.S. to stave off the same, bleak reality of “demographic winter” facing many parts of Europe.  Furthermore, he affirms that people are themselves the greatest resource, and not simply a drain on resources as is implied by NumbersUSA’s position.

It seems curious, then, that Santorum now favors decreasing the number of immigrants who can enter our country exactly when they are very much needed, especially from a demographic standpoint.  Granted, he has pointed to immigrants’ supposed negative effects on employment and wages, rather than overpopulation, as the main rationale for his proposals (though this is also a highly tendentious claim).  Nevertheless, the fact that Santorum’s immigration views have aligned him with NumbersUSA should at the very least give him pause.

Paul Dupont is a legislative assistant for American Principles in Action.