Image via Time
You've likely heard a pretty diverse range of arguments from advocates of Arizona's draconian anti-illegal immigration law, and of cracking down on immigration in general: immigrants are stealing American jobs, unduly siphoning off taxpayer money, causing crime rates to rise, and other, even more xenophobic claims. But here's one I bet you haven't heard before: illegal immigrants are causing global warming. And if we care about stopping climate change, we'd better keep them out! Video after the jump.The following is an ad created by a group called Progressives For Immigration Reform (PFIR), which is seeking to capitalize on the attention generated by the recent passage of the Arizona immigration law:
The underlying conceit is of course that all those immigrants will come streaming in from places where their carbon footprint is considerably lower, and once in America, they'll immediately start consuming and polluting as much as Americans do.
This is a dangerously preposterous argument on just about every front -- the fundamental idea itself is fraudulent, which is pretty much this: We here in America consume and pollute more than every other nation, so allowing more people in to act just like us is bad for the world. Say what? Obviously, this is flawed reasoning -- if these people honestly recognized that America consumes and pollutes too much, the response should be to address the problem at the root, not to point the finger at hypothetical citizens who may one day pollute as much as we do now. Shouldn't the first order of business be finding ways to get Americans themselves to lower their carbon footprints?
Second of all, it's been shown time and again that immigrant families consume and pollute much less than the average American family -- they tend to live in urban areas, use more public transit, and live in smaller homes.
Considering that the uber-conservative folks who brewed up this video wouldn't support climate legislation even if it meant they could banish every illegal immigrant in the US, it's especially offensive. It's an attempt to win over a liberal, environmentalist audience with an extremely dishonest argument. It's a clumsy attempt to channel xenophobia through a green lens: PFIR figure that people will feel better about adopting an anti-immigration stance if they can be convinced that it's for the greater good.
Thankfully, with such a hollow argument, I'll be surprised if they convince a single actual environmentalist.
More analysis at Mother Jones