Are environmentalists beginning to take a nasty anti-immigrant turn?

Traditionally anti-immigrant fever in the United States has been fueled by demagogues on the right. Recently, however, concerned that the United States is overpopulated (that’s not a misprint), groups like Population-Environment Balance and the Population Institute have been pressuring even mainline environmental groups to take anti-immigration stances.

According to an Oct. 2, 1997 Associated Press story, the Sierra Club’s 500,000 members will soon vote on whether or not to end their neutral policy on immigration and instead endorse a reduction in immigration to the United States.

The AP story quotes Sierra Club member Alan Kuper, who fought to have the issue scheduled for a vote in March 1998 as saying overpopulation “happens to underlie all environmental issues” including traffic jams, air pollution, water shortages and species loss.

To their credit, not everyone in the Sierra Club is falling for this nonsense. Sierra Club executive director Carl Pope said, “this is a nasty, polarized debate in our society, one of the reasons our directors didn’t want to get involved in the issue.”

The position of people like Kuper is extraordinarily wrongheaded as immigration from heavily populated countries, such as Bangladesh, to less populated nations such as the United States is a major way to ease population difficulties in the Third World. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know the world environment might be a bit less taxed if people living in Bangladesh, with its population density of close to 900 people per square mile, immigrated to the United States, with its population density of roughly 72 per square mile.

But then little that comes out of the overpopulation camp ever makes much sense.

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