National Immigration Forum

Practical Solutions for Immigrants and America

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What’s Next? Immigrants cause high gas prices?

August 14, 2008 - Posted by Katherine Vargas

Just when you thought that immigrants couldn’t be blamed for any more of America’s troubles, the Center for Immigration Studies introduces yet another item to the grievance list: Immigrants are the driving force behind climate change.


Once again, the Center for Immigration Studies has found a way to fudge the numbers and use a critical issue to support their anti-immigrant agenda, as shown in their new “research study” titled “Immigration to the United States and World-Wide Greenhouse Gas Emissions”. The study dubiously claims that:


“future levels of immigration will have a significant impact on efforts to reduce global CO2 emissions. Immigration to the United States significantly increases world-wide CO2 emissions because it transfers population from lower-polluting parts of the world to the United States, which is a higher polluting country.”


Their argument is that if immigrants had stayed in their home countries, they wouldn’t have produced such large quantities of greenhouse gases, because


“By and large, people who migrate to the United States aspire to improve their material standard of living, and (…) this generally entails a higher level of energy consumption and thus CO2 emissions.”


Acknowledging that there is no data that breaks down per capita CO2 emissions, the Center uses annual income as a surrogate for CO2 emissions. In other words, the higher the income of an individual, the larger their carbon footprint.


Not only are these generalizations simplistic but they open the door for an endless list of possible scenarios. By using the same logic, one could suggest that people shouldn’t strive to create a better life for themselves or achieve higher education because a higher standard of living is connected to higher income and thus a higher production of greenhouse gases.


Or even better, one could argue that if Americans really want to stop global warming they should be moving to Haiti, which has a per capita CO2 emissions rate of barely more than 1/100 that of the United States.


Climate change is a real problem that requires solution focusing on our energy choices and emissions policies. It is completely arbitrary to single out any group and suggest that by suppressing that group, we can solve climate change. Suggesting that we stop immigration altogether and encourage people to remain in poverty so they don’t increase their emissions is not a real solution. We need to solve our environmental problems in a comprehensive way, and we need too a workable, comprehensive solution for our broken immigration system.

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