Enforcement Gives Jeopardized Habitat a Helping Hand

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By Joe Guzzardi

Joe is a CAPS Senior Writing Fellow whose commentaries about California's social issues have run in newspapers throughout California and the country for nearly 30 years. Contact Joe at joeguzzardi@capsweb.org, or find him on Twitter @joeguzzardi19.

The writer's views are his own.

October 9, 2017
Trash-filled riverbed
A trash-filled wash located below Arizona’s scenic Diablito Mountain,
21 miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border at Nogales.
Among the many positives that have accrued to American citizens during the Trump administration enforcement era is that the United States habitat has benefited. Understanding why is easy. Fewer illegal crossings, especially along the U.S.-Mexico border in Arizona, means less foot traffic and less trash left behind by environmentally-indifferent humans engaged in attempted illegal entry or smuggling. 

A heartening Washington Times story chronicled the turn around. In 2017, vehicle blockades or an 18-foot pedestrian fence now protects most of formerly wide-open Arizona. Border Patrol agents assigned to Arizona have doubled in number from 2004 to 2014, further discouraging illegal traffic that recklessly dumped tons of trash behind. Ironwood National Forest, home to the longest-living trees in the Sonoran Desert, would accumulate as much as 50,000 pounds of trash annually. Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge collected twice that total.

Kudos to the Washington Times and to reporter Steven Dinan for bringing the link between illegal immigration, the resultant overpopulation and environmental degradation back into the limelight. Twenty years ago, University of Southwestern Louisiana scholar T. Michael Maher wrote his landmark article “How and Why Environmental Journalists Avoid the Population-Environment Connection.”

Maher described the decades-long avoidance trend he found during his research:

     "Using a random sample of 150 stories about urban sprawl, endangered species and water shortages, Part I of this study shows that only about one story in 10 framed population growth as a source of the problem. Further only one story in the entire sample mentioned population stability among the realm of possible solutions. Part II presents the results of interviews with 25 journalists whose stories on local environmental problems omitted the causal role of population growth. It shows that journalists are aware of the controversial nature of the population issue, and prefer to avoid it if possible. Most interviewees said that a national phenomenon like population growth was beyond the scope of what they could write about as local reporters."

Two decades after Maher, journalists have made little if any improvement in their environment stories. The Senate RAISE Act which would eventually halve legal immigration, dramatically reduce chain migration, and therefore contribute to slower population growth gets barely a mention in the establishment media.

Full disclosure: Californians for Population Stabilization is a plaintiff in a lawsuit brought against the Department of Homeland Security for its refusal to, as is its legal requirement pursuant to the National Environmental Protect Act (NEPA), evaluate sustained high immigration’s effects on the habitat.
From the plaintiff’s complaints:

     “Not only does DHS take actions of great environmental significance with increasing frequency [admits an average of one million or more legal immigrants annually], it also often does not explain or present to the public in any formal way what it has actually done. In the worst cases, DHS never even publishes its actions, and the public only realizes what has happened at all because of leaks to the media. Meanwhile, the environmental consequences reverberate around the country, with the public largely in the dark about why and how it is happening. The intention of NEPA is to prevent exactly this scenario.”

Lower immigration levels helps the environment. Senators Tom Cotton (R-AR) and David Perdue’s (R-GA) RAISE Act needs your support. The majority of American citizens want sensible immigration limits and less crowding. Please go to the CAPS Action Alert page here to tell your Senators to support RAISE, and to slow immigration-driven population growth.
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