The Environmentalist's Guide to a Sensible Immigration Policy (2010)

Introduction

A lot has been written lately about the environment and the cause of environmentalism. So, why did we feel the need to add another voice to the mix? Because The Environmentalist’s Guide to a Sensible Immigration Policy makes the connection between one of the most important issues facing Americans in their everyday lives — urban sprawl — and its principal cause: immigration-related population growth. All too often, so-called environmentalists pretend as if this connection does not exist.

Can you imagine discussing the U.S. trade deficit without mentioning China? Or analyzing the looming Social Security crisis with no mention of retiring baby boomers? Well, that’s what is happening when environmentalists discuss the problem of urban sprawl or efforts to reduce U.S. CO2 emissions without mentioning immigration and its enormous impact on population growth.

The Census Bureau projects that today’s immigration of over one million persons a year will drive the current U.S. population of 308 million to 439 million by mid-century, with no end in sight. This guide not only shows the relationship between today’s mass immigration and our skyrocketing population growth, but also how immigration is reshaping where and how Americans live.

Immigration is the primary factor that fuels demand for new housing construction as secondary migration, spurred by record-setting levels of immigration into existing cities, spawns urban and suburban sprawl. Real estate developers have come to rely upon immigration-driven population growth as they claim more and more agricultural and wilderness land for new subdivisions. We argue that it is futile to support anti-sprawl intiatives that ignore immigration.

Finally, this publication lays out the key policies that environmental organizations can adopt to rein in U.S. population growth, preserving our prime farmlands, forests, and wetlands, and reducing our consumption of natural resources. Any credible population policy must address immigration. Environmentalists looking for a population policy compatible with their goals for a sustainable ecological future will find it here.

We are not newcomers to this issue. This is an updated revision of a 1999 publication. And our organization has been the leading voice calling attention to the connection between immigration, population growth, and the environment for over 30 years. Hopefully with so much renewed focus on the environment, policy makers will finally acknowledge the truth of what we’ve been saying all along: that we ignore the connection between immigration and the environment at our own peril.

The full report is available in pdf format.