THE 2020 CENSUS offers a powerful argument for immigration. The United States in the past 10 years saw the slowest population growth rate in eight decades, owing both to plummeting fertility and dwindling immigration. Demographic stagnation, and the resulting possibility of anemic economic growth, threaten American vitality.

The census numbers give the lie, again, to the idea that this country is “full,” as President Donald Trump said, by way of justifying his assault on legal and illegal immigration, or that it has somehow reached the limits of its absorptive capacity. In fact, without robust population growth, and a steady supply of working-age strivers, there is no prospect of repairing the fraying social safety net that supports an aging population of retired Americans.

Simply, lagging births and slowing immigration mean fewer workers, less production and the specter of languid economic growth, or none.

There is little countries can do to lift their native-born birthrates; nor is it even clear why the U.S. fertility rate, which now stands substantially below the replacement rate of 2.1 babies per woman, is so low. By contrast, there is plenty the country can and should do to quicken the admission of refugees, asylum seekers and other legal immigrants. Their arrivals have slowed in recent years, at first because of the economic crisis arising from the Great Recession and later as a result of Mr. Trump’s campaign to demonize migrants, and a related cascade of bureaucratic measures designed by his administration to slash the number of newcomers.

This nation’s prosperity, pluck, ambition and effervescent character are the products of more than 100 million immigrants who have sought better lives in the United States since its founding. More than 70 million of them arrived in the half-century between 1965 and 2015, an era of astounding economic expansion. The foreign-born portion of our population, roughly 13.7 percent, is high by historical standards, but not as high as it was shortly after the turn of the 20th century.

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