Conflating Immigration and Climate Change: When Wedge Issues Collide

Written by on June 2, 2010 in Demographics, Legislation with 0 Comments

Today in Politico, hard right, conservative Gary Bauer continues the restrictionist tradition of blaming immigrants for everything from pot holes to climate change. In his editorial, Bauer cites a 2008 report by the restrictionist group Center for Immigration Studies and seeks to link climate change legislation and immigration reform legislation (and a half dozen other ideas for which he advocates) to make the wholly unclear point the immigrants are once again to blame for our environmental problems.

Bauer cites a 2008 CIS report which identified immigrants as the cause of global warming:

Immigrants would ultimately produce less CO2 if they just remained in their “less-consuming, less-industrialized, and less CO2 emitting” home countries.

Bauer then goes on to write:

As a conservative, I maintain a healthy skepticism of the theory of man-made global warming. I also believe that more people enjoying the fruits of modernity and economic development is a good thing — as long as those people arrived legally and obey the law.

In other words, he doesn’t believe in global warming, but we should stop immigration because immigrants are a huge contributor to the factors that cause it. Besides being a ridiculous argument, Bauer seems to contradict himself—wouldn’t immigrants still be the cause of global warming even if they came here legally?

As the IPC previously stated:

When it comes to the environment, immigrants are not the problem—the US lifestyle , our systems of production and consumption and the policies that shape them are. We need real, rational solutions and leadership on environmental issues, not scapegoats. CIS assumes that we are in a lifeboat with limited resources , and with too many people, we’ll all sink. Yet when it comes to the global warming crisis , we’ll all sink or swim together.

The number of strange correlations Bauer attempts to draw in this piece is confounding. One thing, however, is clear: Bauer and CIS’s intent isn’t environmentalism. They’re only politicizing and exploiting the issue—and highlighting shoddy research—in order to continue a crusade to tar immigrants (and liberals).

The only thing Bauer and his friends at CIS are doing when it comes to these two critical issues is attempting to distract attention from the real solutions to immigration and the global warming crisis. We do need a better, more regulated approach to immigration and the environment, but wishing away immigrants and blaming them for climate change does nothing to that end.

Photo by \<.

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