Our VoiceHealth & EnvironmentImmigration

LA Times gives CAPS platform to scapegoat immigrants


Lindsay Schubiner • May 29, 2015
The anti-immigrant Californians for Population Stabilization wants us to believe immigrants are to blame for the drought. They're not.
The anti-immigrant Californians for Population Stabilization wants us to believe immigrants are to blame for the drought. They're not.

Immigrants are not the cause of California’s drought.

But you might have a different impression if you read the Los Angeles Times earlier this week.

On Sunday, May 24, Times reporter Kate Linthicum highlighted the efforts of one anti-immigrant group in California to use the state’s current drought to advocate for reduced immigration. The group, Californians for Population Stabilization, wants us to believe that immigrants in the United States are responsible for a range of environmental problems, including the drought. Unfortunately, the Linthicum devoted the entire first half of the article to CAPS’ anti-immigrant arguments about the cause of the drought, giving short shrift to the research-based explanations of climatologists and other scientists. (Two days later, another Times reporter Michael Hiltzik offered a strong rebuttal to CAPS.)

Read: A new way to exploit the California drought: immigrant bashing

Far from being an environmental organization interested in immigration, CAPS is a recognized nativist organization that was founded to advocate for anti-immigrant policies, using all too real environmental concerns as mere pretext.

California's urban per capita water use has fallen sharply since the 1990s drought. Source: Public Policy Institute of California

California’s urban per capita water use has fallen sharply since the 1990s drought. Source: Public Policy Institute of California

As part of a broad network of anti-immigrant organizations founded or supported by white nationalist John Tanton, CAPS is deeply rooted in the national anti-immigrant movement. CAPS shares leadership and funding sources with fellow nativist organizations including the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), the misleadingly named Progressives for Immigration Reform, NumbersUSA, and the network’s flagship organization, Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR).

The Southern Poverty Law Center has designated FAIR as a hate group “because of its virulent and false attacks on non-white immigrants.”

Perhaps even more troubling, though fitting considering the group’s name, CAPS has received past funding from the Pioneer Fund, a foundation that has contributed to furthering the promotion of racial eugenics.

Given these disturbing collaborations, the author’s failure to include dissenting opinions in the first half of the article is a serious mistake. The latter half of the article does include important voices opposing CAPS’ arguments on this issue, but for the many readers who will never read more than half the article, it falls troublingly far from critical reporting.

CAPS is relying on bigotry and misinformation to advance its campaign to scapegoat immigrants for our environmental woes. It may be easier to blame environmental problems on immigrants than to grapple with complex science or powerful interests. But the drought will not be solved by dividing Californians and pitting people against each other.

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