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  • Brian Lonergan

Mass Immigration Is Killing The Environment

Updated: Feb 25


As the national debate over immigration policy continues, the gulf between American citizens and their ruling class social betters in Washington, D.C., only gets wider. The credibility of politicians nosedives when they inform their constituents what issues are important, rather than listening to their constituents trying to tell them what matters.

Increasingly, the messages from our government appear to contradict each other. There is no greater example of this than the relationship between immigration and environmentalism.

Action is desperately needed to save the planet, we are told. Thanks to industrialization, population growth and increased personal consumption, temperatures and ocean levels are rising. The solutions include a lower carbon footprint, a reduced standard of living and curbing population growth.

At the same time, we are told that mass migration into the United States is exactly what the country needs. There are jobs “Americans just won’t do,” and we need a robust, steady influx of low-skilled workers to perform those jobs. To suggest any kind of limitation on this migration is cruel to those who seek entry, and quite possibly an indication of nativism, or worse, racism.

These two concepts are incompatible. They cannot co-exist.

Simply put, mass migration harms the environment. The research we have on this topic is overwhelming. Immigration-generated population growth is fueling an increase in energy demand and the waste product that accompanies it. Immigrants to the United States alone produce about four times more carbon dioxide in the United States as they would have in their countries of origin.

Climate change advocates often say that the United States has less than five percent of the world’s population, yet consumes about a quarter of the world’s fossil fuel resources. If that is true, then why do some of the same people support immigration policies that significantly increase American fuel consumption as well as its carbon footprint? The two positions are contradictory.

There is ample evidence that mass migration fouls the land as well as the air. According to the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, in fiscal years 2011 and 2012, when Arizona was experiencing over 120,000 border apprehensions, more than 65,000 pounds of border trash was being collected annually. That’s more than 32 tons of garbage—plastic water bottles, abandoned vehicles, human waste, medical products and much more—on the ground.

In the following years, as apprehensions fell as low as 70,000, border trash collections dropped as well – reaching a low of just 19,000 pounds in fiscal year 2015 before jumping back up in 2016. This is only data from a few years in one of our four southern border states, and not even the largest.

The impact of this unending migration includes watershed degradation, soil erosion, damage to infrastructure, loss of vegetation and wildlife, and escaped campfires. For committed environmentalists, this should be a five-alarm crisis demanding immediate action, yet the silence is deafening.

Against this backdrop comes the latest insult, a concept that sounds as if it were hatched in a socialist think tank: “climate refugees.”

Don’t laugh. It’s the next big thing. Some politicians and anti-borders activists have declared that those purportedly fleeing the effects of climate change need to be treated as a special class and allowed unfettered entry into the United States.

Imagine the tsunami of refugee claims that could result from this idea, most of which are completely unprovable or subjective. A flood wiped out your village? Climate refugee. A drought has caused famine and dehydration? Climate refugee. It could be applied to pretty much any act of God.

The result would be that virtually every citizen of the world would have a claim for entry into the U.S., with an army of well-funded organizations offering them legal assistance. In other words, chaos.

Should we be good stewards of our environment and make every reasonable effort to keep our land, air and water clean? Absolutely. That effort includes not supporting policies that damage our environment, like mass migration.

The time to blindly follow partisan agendas is over. Those truly committed to a cleaner Earth must bravely proclaim the truth, that irresponsible mass migration harms the environment.

Brian Lonergan is director of communications at the Immigration Reform Law Institute, a public interest law firm working to defend the rights and interests of the American people from the negative effects of illegal migration.

Also published at: Brian Lonergan, Mass Immigration Is Killing The Environment, The Daily Caller, December 5, 2019.


IRLI is a supporting organization of the Federation for American Immigration Reform.

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