After years of delay, a comprehensive immigration bill is moving its way through the US Congress. Proponents say a nation founded by immigrants should provide newcomers a path to citizenship, while opponents say undocumented immigrants shouldn’t be rewarded for violating US laws. Overlooked in the debate is the question: Will immigration reform hurt or help the environment? Dave Foreman, a co-founder of EarthFirst!, says the US can’t sustain more people, and so we should stabilize immigration numbers. David Foster – executive director of the BlueGreen Alliance – argues that a path to citizenship will remove the sense of fear under which immigrants live and will increase scrutiny over public health and environmental abuses.
by David Foster
David Foster is the founding executive director of the BlueGreen Alliance, a national partnership of labor unions and environmental organizations dedicated to expanding the number and quality of jobs in the clean economy.
President Teddy Roosevelt’s assertion that “far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing” rings as true today as it did a century ago. While that pursuit is something that unites us all, in today’s world many people never have a chance to work, much less to have “work worth doing.” For more than 200 years, our immigrant nation and our American Dream have inspired the world to believe that both were possible. And it’s why today, as environmentalists, we need to support an equitable path to citizenship.
The rise of immigration is not solely a US phenomenon. Globally, immigration between countries and within countries has increased dramatically as a result of a variety of factors. However, two important ones are economic desperation and climate-related disasters. The two are mutually reinforcing. As far back as 1990, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change forecast that the greatest effect of climate change on human society would be forced migration.
by Dave Foreman
The Big Thing facing Earth today – dwarfing all else – is the mass extinction of animals and plants unprecedented in size and scope for 65 million years, and wholly unprecedented in its cause. This ghastly crash in species abundance is happening from highest peak to deepest sea, from the poles to the equator. It is caused by one species – we humans – and our breathtaking population boom. In the last two millennia our numbers have grown nearly thirtyfold, from a mere 250 million to more than 7 billion today.
Our leap in numbers has wounded Earth in seven deadly ways. One: Direct Killing – from overfishing to slaughtering elephants for ivory. Two: Habitat Destruction – wiping out wild ecosystems. Three: Habitat Fragmentation – isolating wildlife with roads and subdivisions. Four: Upsetting Ecological and Evolutionary Processes – wildfire, river flooding, predation. Five: Spread of Exotics – disease, plants, and animals that wreak havoc on native species. Six: Biocides – from pesticides to antibiotics. Seven: Climate Chaos – driven by greenhouse gas pollution from our addiction to fossil fuels.
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