Our VoiceImmigration

Race, Migration and the Environment: The Anti-immigrant Movement’s Greening of Hate


Imagine 2050 Staff • Apr 22, 2011

The Center for New Community, a national civil rights organization, today released a report entitled “Race, Migration and the Environment.” The report comes amid Earth Day celebrations, and counters the false notions that immigrants are a cause of environmental degradation in the United States.

“It is especially important on Earth Day to take on the kind of anti-immigrant arguments explained in this paper,” said Center for New Community Field Organizer Rebecca Poswolsky, “in order for environmentalists to work toward positive and concrete solutions to address climate change.”

Contemporary anti-immigrant groups focus on unfounded connections between population, immigration, and damage to nature. They claim that immigrants harm the environment by contributing to urban sprawl, congestion, pollution, waste generation, water consumption, land conversion and loss of biodiversity.

John Tanton seeded the contemporary anti-immigrant movement in this country, and has been instrumental in its growth since 1979 when he founded the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). He also founded or financially supported a myriad of other anti-immigrant groups – NumbersUSA, Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), and Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI) to name just a few.

In a feature on Sunday, April 17, The New York Times dedicated the front-page to exposing Tanton and his network – paying special attention to his efforts to win over environmentalists.

In its report, the Center for New Community argues that to address climate change is to address the social structures that have created it. The report also reveals that in order to tackle the serious crises at hand, environmental movements need to reject the historically dangerous understanding that nature is separate from society.

The Center for New Community encourages environmentalists to take a stand against arguments made by the anti-immigrant movement meant to pollute their movement with hatred and fear.

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