by Nicole Loeffler-Gladstone
When Californians for Population Stabilization (CAPS) want to talk to you about pollution and the environment, beware that you hear what they are really saying: “California is infamous for its smog.” Then: “Experts agree that the most dangerous problem facing our environment now and in the future […] is human overpopulation,” i.e. immigration from Mexico, Central, and South America.
Wait, hold on. How did we get from point A to point B?
Yes, parts of California are choked with smog, and, yes, that affects everyone. However, Latino communities tend to live in the most polluted environments in urban locations. In 2004 the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) both published reports detailing the disproportionate impact of pollution on Latino residents in the United States.
Latinos are more likely to live in communities that violate air quality standards. They are also more likely to live within 30 miles of a power plant, both according to the LULAC report. The NRDC report tells us that 91% of Latinos in the United States live in metropolitan areas, where pollutants abound in higher concentrations. The report also notes that Latino communities often report higher-than-average rates of asthma and other respiratory disease.
If we were to follow the logic laid out by CAPS, recent immigrants should be held directly responsible for the decreasing air quality in the Golden State. In fact, data shows that Latino immigrants and Latino communities suffer disproportionately from substandard air quality. CAPS, in its struggle to find a scapegoat, chose to put the blame on a group that actually suffers more from a problem they supposedly cause.
CAPS are clearly groping for leverage in their anti-immigration campaign. Their concern for the environment is a thinly veiled attempt to cover up their real motives and intentions. They are racist and hateful, and must be exposed as such.
Nicole is a graduate of Hampshire College. She currently lives in Chicago, where she pursues various intellectual and artistic enterprises.