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Group wants to curb immigration into Queens

While many tout Queens’ diversity as one of its greatest strengths, a small political movement wants to pin many of the borough’s most pressing problems, such as overcrowded schools and the tight housing market, on the steady stream of immigrants into the county.

Ed Price presented such a viewpoint to Community Board 5 last Thursday, and board leaders said overcrowding problems are so severe they would consider any proposal aimed at addressing them.

Price asked the board to consider approving the Aspen Resolution, a measure passed by the Aspen (Colo.) City Council in 1999 asking for a sharp reduction in the number of immigrants allowed into the country.

The resolution, revised by Price’s group for adoption by New York, calls for the federal government to severely limit legal immigration and actively enforce laws to prevent illegal entrance into the country.

“This society is not prepared for this, didn’t ask for it, and is going to be facing ecological and power crises for the rest of the century if they can’t get a grip on it now,” Price said.

Price is president of the Tristate Immigration Moratorium, an organization whose mission he said is to “reform immigration laws in order to improve the quality of life for all Americans.”

U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-Jackson Heights), whose district is considered one of the most ethnically diverse in the country, called the resolution “a veiled and misguided attempt to officially sanction destructive anti-immigrant sentiment.”

“Any attempt to shut off legal immigration is an attempt to deny our country’s roots,” Crowley said.

Price said the resolution calls for a five-year immigration time-out, during which only 100,000 immigrants would be admitted annually followed by a “return to traditional replacement levels of legal immigration, approximately 175,000 all inclusive per year.”

The resolution would cut immigration to less than one-sixth of its current levels. A million legal immigrants and 300,000 illegal immigrants have entered the country each year over the last decade, Price said.

The resolution attributes many of the country’s most pressing environmental concerns, including the destruction of wetlands and old-growth forests, and the depletion of natural resources, to “excessive” and “unsustainable” population growth.

Margie McHugh, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition, said the environmental concerns cited in the resolution are a result of overconsumption rather than overpopulation.

“I think it’s pretty far-fetched and ridiculous to be trying to pin the country’s environmental problems on immigrants,” McHugh said. “That detracts attention from the real solutions to addressing those problems.”

McHugh considers Price’s group “out of step” with the rest of the city’s stance on immigration.

“Most New Yorkers understand and appreciate that because of immigration New York is entering the 21st century as the world’s only truly global city,” she said.

The resolution is a non-binding measure designed to show a community’s support for severely restricting immigration. Price hopes the resolution’s passage by community boards will pressure Washington to enact the anti-immigration measures it details.

“We hope to actually get some of our Queens politicians to actually deal with the crisis in their borough,” Price said.

CB 5 Chairman Frank Principe said he will consider putting the Aspen Resolution on the next board meeting’s agenda.

“Restrictions on immigration is not a new idea,” Principe said. “It’s been done by this country before, and I think serious thought should be given to not having what we have now, which is everything wide open.”

Reach reporter Dustin Brown by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 154.

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