Anti-Immigrant Group Blames Global Warming On Immigrants


Written by Amanda Peterson-Beadle

Despite the fact that the number of Mexican undocumented immigrants entering the U.S. is dropping, an anti-immigrant California group incorrectly blames immigrants for increasing carbon emissions in the U.S., leading to “environmental degradation.” Californians for Population Stabilization (CAPS), which is airing TV ads on MSNBC and other channels to promote the false link between immigration and climate change, bases its research on a flawed report by the nativist Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), which is connected to the hate group Federation for American Immigration Reform.

“Concerned about Americans’ huge carbon footprint? Then you should be concerned about immigration,” a man in the ad says in an attempt to scare viewers:

MAN: Immigrants produce four times more carbon emissions in the U.S. than their home countries. [...] Reducing immigration won’t solve global warming, but it is part of the solution.

Watch it here:

The problem? The claim that immigrants have a carbon footprint four times larger in the U.S. comes from a CIS report, which has deeply flawed methodology. The report claims that a person’s CO2 emissions is directly related to his or her personal income — so a person making $110,000 per year will emit 10 percent more carbon than a person who earns $100,000 per year under the report’s methodology. Thus, because the report claims that each Mexican immigrant earns 53.2 percent of the average U.S. resident, it claims that these immigrants must also produce 53.2 percent of the carbon emissions.

But this is simply absurd. If such a relationship actually did exist, that would mean that Mitt Romney, who earned $21.6 million in 2010 — or more than 600 times the average annual income according to the CIS report — also must have produced 600 times the CO2 emissions. That’s enough of a carbon footprint to fuel over 2,200 vehicles or power more than 1,400 homes for an entire year. Not even John McCain owns that many houses.

There’s also robust data showing that immigrants produce less carbon emissions than their native-born citizen counterparts. Brookings found in 2008 that the 10 highest carbon-emitting cities have an average immigrant population below 5 percent, while the cities with the lowest carbon footprint have an average immigrant population of 26 percent. And as CAP Senior Fellow Andrew Light told ThinkProgress, even if we could suddenly remove the entire carbon impact created by immigrants, it would only decrease the U.S.’s carbon emissions by 7.32 percent in a good year. Clearly, immigrants are not to blame for the U.S.’s large climate footprint.

Rather than falsely blame immigrants for carbon emissions that have fed global warming, Americans should focus on practical solutions like better land use policies and landscape design to conserve resources. Los Angeles, which has a burgeoning second- and third-generation immigrant population, has seen its water usage decline to a 32-year low despite a population increase of 1 million people. It can be done, but using anti-immigrant sentiment to misplace blame to one section of the population distracts from what the U.S. should be doing to address global warming instead.

This post was originally published by ThinkProgress.


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Photo from victoriabernal via flickr


Bella M.
Minnie L6 years ago

Interesting article! ,its seems immigrants will still be blamed for everything....:(

Kevin Brown
Kevin Brown6 years ago

Really, and you are what, 100% Native American? We are a nation of immigrants and now you are saying "enough" no more immigrants? That is some really interesting reasoning there (and by interesting I mean inane).

Ernest Roth
Ernest R6 years ago

@ Kevin B. “but generally just don't like immigrants.” I do not dislike immigrants generally, but WE HAVE ENOUGH. I like guests in my home, but I prefer to have only the guests I invite. I only invite those to whom I can afford to show hospitality, This does not mean that I don’t like guests.

Ernest Roth
Ernest R6 years ago

@ Jennifer H. “pointing fingers at who is allegedly at fault” Dear Jennifer. If we don’t determine the cause as well as the nature of the problem, how the hell can we expect to do anything about it ?

Ernest Roth
Ernest R6 years ago

@ Anmann L. “No. People can't be illegal. Only acts can be”. Right. Like crossing a border illegally.

Ernest Roth
Ernest R6 years ago

@ Sharon A. “if the parents are illegal but the children born here and considered citizens....How does that affect the air quality?? “ Apparently you are another person who hasn’t gotten the memo that THERE ARE TOO MANY PEOPLE. Two parents and six children add eight people who WILL produce much more pollution that we don’t really need, with automobiles, increased costs of heating and cooking, and more environmental and animal habitat destruction just to make room for them. Not to mention increased law enforcement costs in US Latino communities { where motorists passing through have been shot} and welfare costs needed to raise six { the normal Latino family size} when they complain that the food bank is not enough.

Annmari Lundin
Annmari Lundin6 years ago

No. People can't be illegal. Only acts can be. Like waterboarding, starting wars to increase your wealth and kill unarmed women and children. Just ask Dick Cheney.

Carole R.
Carole R7 years ago

Really ????? I've got a bridge in NY to sell ya.

Robert C.
Robert Cruder7 years ago

Most accept a range of a first world citizen consuming 5-10 times the resources of a third-world citizen. Immigrants consume about the same as natives regardless of income because many resources are consumed indirectly by society on behalf of its members. Consider this:

1. The planet has already its carrying capacity.

2. A first-world citizen consumes 5-10 times as much total resources as a third-world citizen.

3. Each first-world birth will eventually cause 5-10 third-world deaths due to lack of resources.

4. Each first-world abortion saves 4-9 lives while each denied abortion causes 4-9 deaths. That does not sound pro-life at all. Apparently distant deaths of brown non-christians do not count.

With the same ratio, a third-world immigrant to a first world country would reduce consumption in his home country by one unit but increase that of the first world by 5-10 yielding the same 4-9 lost third-world lives.

This ignores the extent to which poverty limits fertility. In the third world, it is common for a couple to be entitled to six offspring, down from eight or more in decades past. The immigrant has little chance of achieving that goal in his home country but has virtual certainty in a first-world country. Two immigrants do not merely cause 8-18 third-world deaths because their six offspring (vs. 2 for native born) cause an additional 30-60. That still ignores the greater fertility of the second and often third generations.

Without that “entitle

Bernard Cronyn
7 years ago

The key term once one filters out the noise of outraged emotion is "population increase" no matter how it is caused. In this case we are looking at "population increase" in the context of the USA which has the highest per capita usage of resources of energy, materials, food and water in the world and also produces the highest level of waste per capita. Once someone from the 3rd world or Mexico steps over the border into the USA it would be naive to suggest that they will continue using resources at the same level as they did in their homeland; I've yet to see an immigrant to the USA favour his donkey or camel or ox-cart from back home over his Chevy once he hits the streets of the good old USA!