Group Uses Faulty Numbers to Tie Immigration to Global Warming

Californians for Population Stabilization, a group that says it “works to formulate and advance policies and programs designed to stabilize the population of California, the U.S. and the world,” launched a nationwide advertising campaign ahead of Earth Day last week linking immigration to global warming.

“Immigrants produce four times more carbon emissions in the U.S. than in their home countries,” says an actor in a 30 second TV spot. “Immigration will drive a population increase equal to the entire American West in just 30 years,” he continues, while holding up a display of 18 states, including Texas and Louisiana.

“Reducing immigration won’t solve global warming, but it is part of the solution. We’ve got some tough choices to make,” the ad concludes.

While the argument – that the average U.S. resident’s lifestyle creates more carbon emissions due to a generally higher standard of living here as compared to countries people typically emigrate from, may be compelling, the numbers cited in the ad are misleading at best, concludes.

FactCheck reports that the U.S. Census Bureau pegs the population of the 18 states in question at just over 111 million. And the report cited by the immigration control group, co-authored by Jeffrey Passel of the Pew Research Institute in 2008, does project that immigration would add 117 million people to the country’s population, 67 million immigrants themselves and another 50 million children and grandchildren of those arriving.

The report, however, projects figures from 2005 to 2050, a span of 45 years rather than the 30 claimed in the commercial.

“It makes a big difference,” Passel told FactCheck. “A lot of the additional population is children and grandchildren of the new arrivals.” He said that allowing 15 years less time for newly arrived immigrants to start families would lead to “a lot smaller” number.

Further, Passel notes that actual immigration numbers, in large part due to the economic recession, have been lower than projected in every one of the first seven years of the study. A new calculation today would likely lead to an even smaller impact.

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Beyond the misrepresentation of statistics in the Californian's for Population Stabilization advertisement, there's a larger subtext from these ads that is crucial to acknowledge. While it is informative to show the faults within the purported facts of CAPS' advertisement, it is not enough to simply deconstruct the numbers of one advertisement. This is especially relevant when the organization in question presents a slue of campaigns that aim to support a homogenized vision of California claiming that it is for the betterment of the United States and the world environmentally, economically, and socially. In addressing CAPS' concerns of immigration and population growth, there are a few inconsistencies. CAPS assumes that immigrants are the leading factor in population growth, and that without them, American consumption rates would decline. This perpetuates a false notion that, rich or poor, all people living within the United States consume equally, and doesn't acknowledge that resources are granted to the affluent with very little afforded to the economically disadvantaged. The second problem that arises out these campaigns is the character of the "immigrant". CAPS portray a very specific image the immigrant as one who a.) has lots of babies b.) doesn’t contribute c.) engages in criminal activity thus rupturing the safety of our communities. This idea is categorically untrue and is a sweeping generalization based on fear of “the other”. The prejudices that society perpetuates about immigrants only solidify class and racial barriers that are extremely difficult to escape, and thusly these stereotypes become a vicious cycle. Not only does CAPS promote a superfluous image of the immigrant, but it is important to mention that CAPS has been linked with the Council of Conservative Citizens--formerly known as the White Citizens Council, who oppose immigration of individuals that are not from Europe or other Westernized countries and goes so far to say that they"oppose all efforts to mix the races of mankind”, in their statement of principles ( Knowing about the origins of an organization like CAPS sheds light on the frame of the rhetoric they espouse, which is important to keep in mind when people consider the immigration debate. There is a fine line between conversations about immigration and racism, and although we don’t advocate “open season” on borders, it should be rooted in social reform rather than blame and fear mongering. Not only does CAPS perpetuate fear of immigrants, but they use harmful rhetoric within the frame of environmentalism to mask ulterior motives behind their anti-immigration stance.

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