A group whose entire mission is built on the notion that immigrants are contributing to global climate change, Californians for Population Stablization (CAPS), has released two new ads which claim that “saving the earth in California starts with reduced immigration.” According to CAPS’ logic, “immigration and births to immigrants” lead to unsustainable population growth which leads to global warming and is amplified by the fact that immigrants’ energy use quickly becomes “Americanized” when they move to the US.
The television ad informs Californians that they have some “tough decisions to make” about immigration and global warming:
“Concerned about Americans’ huge carbon foot print? Then you should be concerned about immigration… Reducing immigration won’t solve global warming, but it is part of the solution. We’ve got some tough choices to make.”
The corresponding radio ad tells Californians that they have to face an “inconvenient truth” about immigration and climate change:
“The inconvenient truth is that population growth and environmental degradation go hand in hand…by 2050 our population will reach 60 million — driven almost entirely by immigration and immigrant births. And when immigrants come to California, their carbon footprint quadruples what it was…So if we’re going to do our share to save the earth, our immigration levels must be reduced. That’s a tough pill for compassionate Californians to swallow, but swallow it we must.“
A CAPS press release indicates that the ads are based on the shoddy research presented by the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), a group which has been described as having “never found any aspect of immigration it likes.” According to the Southern Poverty Law Center and Center for New Community, both groups were founded and funded by John Tanton — a man with “troubling associations with racists, white supremacists, and political extremists.” Other “Tanton network” organizations have parroted similar claims, including NumbersUSA, Progressives for Immigration Reform, and the hate group Federation for American Immigration Reform which recently launched a new social networking website, fairdebate.org, aimed at “furthering the debate” on “US overpopulation and the role that immigration plays.”
All of Tanton’s organizations are fixated on scapegoating immigrants and sidestep the fact that the central problem has more to do with US consumption patterns. Rather than asking Americans to get rid of their gas guzzling automobiles, CAPS suggests getting rid of immigrants. However, energy consumption is driven by a host of factors totally unrelated to population size, such as societal dependence on polluting and non-renewable fossil fuels; utilization of energy-efficient technologies; and the development of mass transit systems that minimize individual automobile use. That explains why the World Resources Institute found that though the US is home to 23% fewer people than the European nations of the EU-15, it still produces 70% more greenhouse gases.
Ultimately, CAPS is essentially suggesting that the world would be better off if immigrants stayed poor in their less consuming, less industrialized countries. Based on this logic, illegal immigration isn’t the problem, increased wealth and international development are.
However, quite the contrary, “immigrants, in essence, are doing precisely what planners want the rest of us to do,” says to UCLA professor Ali Modarres who recently found that, compared to Americans, more immigrants walk, bike, bus, or metro to work and fewer drive cars in the state of California. While CAPS and others blame immigrants for everything from traffic jams to depleting aquifers, Mordares suggests that, “immigrants are greening our cities, how about giving them a break?”
Republished with permission from the Wonk Room/Think Progress