The New York Times recently profiled John Tanton, the man who started the three major anti-immigration groups operating today: the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), Numbers USA, and the Center for Immigration Studies.
Tanton’s concerns about immigration were originally connected to his fear of the effects of population growth on the environment, and FAIR was initially conceived as a centrist group allied with Planned Parenthood and the Sierra Club. But as the article details, Tanton’s beliefs and affiliations caused him to increasingly resemble the racist culture warriors that his groups originally wanted to exclude. Yet Tanton’s importance among restrictionists still begs the question: should environmentalists be on the side of the anti-immigrant movement?
Tanton and other anti-immigrant environmentalists had two basic concerns when their movement first got started in the 1970s. First, immigration is driving population growth in the U.S., which is already the richest and most polluting developed country in the world; second, the culture of non-European immigrants is antithetical to environmentalism (Tanton on high fertility rates among Hispanics versus non-Hispanics: “Those with their pants up are going to get caught by those with their pants down!”).
This second point, which has been rightfully criticized as racist, is also easily disproven. The 2011 Climate Change Performance Index, which measures how much progress has been made by different countries in the fight against climate change, ranks Mexico 11 and the United States 54 out of all countries, so “non-European culture” probably doesn’t have much to do with a country’s willingness to adopt green policies.
Continue reading this article at Campusprogress.org.