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World “Anti-Immigrant” Day: the Skewing of World Population Day

Rebecca Poswolsky • Jul 19, 2011

Hopefully on World Population Day (WPD) many environmentalists were paying special attention to groups that are trying to hijack population discussions, steering them straight for anti-immigrant stances. Even though WPD was just last Monday, July 11, the anti-immigrant movement has been busy using these rhetorical hijackings to recruit environmentalists into its fold.

Groups like Progressives for Immigration Reform (PFIR) and Californians for Population Stabilization (CAPS) used WPD as a tool to address and to focus on US population growth, rather than world population figures. On World Population Day, for example, PFIR blogger Keely MacDonald wrote the following in her piece “World Population Day”:

“In the United States, overpopulation in some areas has already contributed to urban sprawl, higher unemployment levels, and other problems that inhibit living standards. By pursuing green solutions, as well as addressing problems with the current US immigration system, Americans can help in trying to build a sustainable nation as the population continues to swell.”

PFIR is just one of the anti-immigrant, pseudo-environmental front groups tied to long-time purveyor of white nationalism John Tanton and his vast network of anti-immigrant groups. Tanton’s varied array of organizations works closely through its spin-off groups such as PFIR to reach out to left-leaning audiences – who would otherwise spot their bigotry immediately – via “progressively” coded rhetoric.

Californians for Population Stabilization (CAPS), as mentioned, diverted attentions to notions of US population growth via quips like following:

“While world population has soared almost 40 percent since the first World Population Day, the United States has grown almost as rapidly, increasing about 30 percent, from 242 million in 1987 to almost 312 million today.”

CAPS is California’s banner anti-immigrant organization, and is listed on the Federation for American Immigration Reform’s (FAIR) website as a state contact group. CAPS, like FAIR, has received funding from the Pioneer Fund, a foundation that has a long history of promoting the genetic superiority of white, European-Americans through the study of eugenics.

This intersecting of finances reveals much truth about the socio-political agenda that unifies these groups and the individuals within them.

Anti-immigrant leader Fred Elbel, one such individual who wasn’t to be outdone last week, left quite a lengthy diatribe in the comments section of the page detailing one particular episode of PBS’s Need to Know series. The episode, you guessed it, focuses primarily on world population growth. His thesis, though, centers far more on migration than population: “Indeed, mass immigration is driving [sic] US population to double within the lifetimes of children born today.”

Beyond WPD issues, Elbel is generally interested in rebalancing the planet. Back in 2004 he defended his failed efforts to place anti-immigrant candidates on the national Sierra Club board by exclaiming the following in an email:

“Damned right. I hate ‘em all - negroes, wasps, spics, eskimos, jews, honkies, krauts, ruskies, ethopans, pakis, hunkies, pollocks and marxists; there are way too many of them. I’m all for trout, elephants, bacteria, whales, wolves, birds, parrot fish, deciduous foliage and mollusks. Time to rebalance the planet, bleeding heart liberals be damned. [sic]”

Clearly, the likes of Elbel, PFIR, and CAPS will continue to use environmental arguments around sustainability and rapid growth to legitimize their shared “alternative” message. In all three cases, though, these folks are simply all about utilizing a skewed understanding of sustainability measures as a wildly broad basis for blocking undesired immigrants from entering the United States.

A real vision of environmental sustainability, so obviously, should not exclude or discriminate against immigrants.  And any real solutions to environmental challenges and problems must emerge from contexts of inclusive dialogue and real discussions of inevitable patterns of global migration, not to mention domestic trends of ultra-consumption.

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