Too Crowded California Adds to Firefighters’ Challenges

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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.

July 12, 2017

Whatever else Donald Trump’s presidency may or may not mean, it’s kept immigration in the media limelight. Just as it was in the Obama administration, immigration is debated contentiously between the open borders advocates and the restrictionists, but it’s still on the table for open, if not always honest, discussion.

Now if only the immigration conservations could be expanded to include its deleterious effect on population growth, real progress might be made toward sensible federal policies that have a goal of limiting the number of new arrivals to a sustainable total and, in the process, lend the environment a helping hand.

California, with its population approaching 40 million and with more than one in four foreign-born is, as evidenced by more than a dozen raging wildfires, a tragic example of over-immigration contributing to the safety challenges associated with natural disasters.

CA wildfire map
Homes built in difficult-to-access areas increase
risk to residents, domiciles.

To be clear, immigrants don’t create wildfires, but too many people in too small an area make protecting residents and their domiciles more difficult for firefighters. And in California, immigration and births to immigrants is the major population driver.

From a CAPS press release that announced its Earth Day ad:

“California's population grew by 5 million people between 2000 and 2015 and the state is expected to add another 10 million people by 2050 based on current population projections from the California Department of Finance. However, native born Californians are having fewer children than in the past.

“Based on U.S. Census Bureau and California Department of Public Health data, the state's overall population growth is being driven by mass immigration and births to immigrants. Please see report showing, for example, the Direct and Indirect Contribution of Immigration to California's Population Growth over a 10 year period.”

More people means more home construction, and with land at a premium, housing development has expanded development into hillsides, dense canyons and other places difficult for firefighters to access.

California is full. For 30 years, CAPS has advocated for limiting population growth to viable totals. A Senate bill has been introduced that would cut legal immigration by 50 percent, eliminate visas that unnecessarily add more people, and limit refugee resettlement. Please go to the CAPS Action Alert page here to tell your Senator to support the RAISE Act.

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