Van Jones Affirms That Immigrants Lead a Greener Life

Van JonesToday, the Center for American Progress (CAP) released a report entitled “From a “Green Farce” to a Green Future: Refuting False Claims About Immigrants and the Environment.” The report, written by researcher Jorge Madrid, “strikes down many of the false arguments regarding immigrants and the environment, provides a clearer picture of immigrants’ environmental contributions, and outlines real environmental solutions that can cut carbon and curb climate change.”

On a press call on the report’s findings earlier today, Van Jones, who leads CAP’s Green Opportunity Initiative, echoed the warnings issued in the report. “There are other organizations that are trying to drive wedges between communities that are seeking solutions,” stated Jones. More specifically, Jones noted that “there is a greenwashing of hate that is going on in our country.” Anti-immigrant front groups are using “green concerns as a bludgeon against immigrants and low-income communities.” However, Jones points out that it’s possible to “have an America that is green and prosperous and welcoming of newcomers.” In fact, “immigrants are not a problem when it comes to the greening of a America, they are disproportionately part of the solution. Immigrant communities live greener life styles and support greener policies.”

Madrid produced similar findings:

  • The assumption that immigrant-driven population growth alone drives the U.S. carbon footprint is false. The 10 highest carbon-emitting cities are home to the smallest immigrant populations. The cities with the lowest carbon footprint, on the other hand, have an average immigrant population of 26 percent.
  • Immigrants, who are largely low income, are also more likely to have their lives disrupted by extreme weather events and other adverse effects of climate change. Immigrants are disproportionately hurt by the dirty energy economy and face unique environmental challenges. Consequently, they fight for greener solutions, including challenging the use of hazardous pesticides in the agricultural fields where many immigrants work.
  • Immigrants, especially recent immigrants, tend to lead “greener” lifestyles than the native-born and are more likely to use public transportation and practice sustainable habits like compact living, conservation, and recycling.
  • 2010 polls of key electoral states find that immigrant-rich communities overwhelmingly favor policy that will create green jobs and tend to support congressional candidates who back efforts to fight global warming.

I’ve written extensively about the claims made by anti-immigrant “environmental” front groups in the past. Those organizations include NumbersUSA, the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), Progressives for Immigration Reform, and others. Most recently, FAIR released “The Environmentalist’s Guide to a Sensible Immigration Policy.” The report connects immigration to “pollution, sprawl, congestion, and ecological degradation,” complaining that “so-called environmentalists pretend as if this connection does not exist.”

Andrea NillOn the call, Madrid noted that “It’s important that we not let these kind of false answers go unanswered or unchallenged.” Madrid explained that environmentalists aren’t “ignoring” the connection between immigrants and environmental degradation, rather, evidence actually suggests the contrary. “These organizations are not part of the mainstream environmental movement,” affirmed Madrid. A representative from the Sierra Club who happened to be listening to the call backed Madrid’s claims.

Andrea Christina Nill

Reposted with permission from The Wonk Room

Published by the LA Progressive on October 16, 2010
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About Andrea Christina Nill

Andrea Nill is an Immigration Researcher/Blogger for ThinkProgress.org and The Progress Report at the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Andrea holds a bachelor’s degree from Cornell University in Political Science with a concentration in Latin American Studies and Law and Society. Prior to joining the center, Andrea was a Communications Associate at the Immigration Policy Center where she founded the blog, Immigration Impact. Andrea was also a Communications Specialist at the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), specializing in bilingual public relations. Andrea was born in Guatemala and grew up in upstate New York.