Population Growth Still Isn’t a Problem. Anti-Immigrant Groups Still Think It Is.

“In August, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled that Massachusetts Coalition for Immigration Reform (MCIR) v. Department of Homeland Security could proceed. Filed by the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), the suit claimed the Biden administration had violated the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 by failing to conduct environmental analyses before ending several of former President Donald Trump’s immigration policies.

Former Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich made the same argument in an April 2021 suit against the Biden administration. “Population growth has significant environmental impacts,” said a press release on the lawsuit, but the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) “and other federal officials did not provide environmental impact statements or environmental assessments when DHS abruptly halted ongoing border wall construction” and began allowing more migrants to enter the country by ending Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” policy.

These ideas have found supporters in Congress as well. In March 2021, Reps. Bruce Westerman (R–Ark.) and Paul Gosar (R–Ariz.) claimed in a letter to DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas that “decreasing illegal crossings protects our border environment.” They cited research from CIS fellows to build their case.”

“this is a faulty way of thinking about immigration and the environment. According to research from Michigan State sociologist Guizhen Ma, places with larger foreign-born populations tend to have better air quality, as immigrants tend to “use less energy, drive less, and produce less waste.” Compared to native-born Americans, immigrants are also disproportionately employed in “jobs that either benefit the environment directly or make their establishment’s production more environmentally friendly,” per 2021 George Mason University research. Immigrants largely settle in urban areas, contradicting the claim that they foster the overdevelopment of pristine lands.”

“”an increasingly wealthy and technologically adept humanity will be withdrawing from nature over the course of this century.” Just as an increased birthrate will lead to more minds and helping hands to solve pressing environmental problems, so will increased immigration.”

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