How Do Environmental Groups that Support Unfettered Illegal Immigration Square the Circle?

By Dan Cadman on November 28, 2018

I was listening to a streaming music station, headphones on, while drafting a blog posting for the Center when one of the station's intermittent ads solicited listeners to contribute to the Nature Conservancy.

The ad made me curious about the group's stance on immigration for reasons I'll explain momentarily. The very fact that environmental groups even have immigration policy positions may puzzle some people, but they do. I wasn't particularly surprised, but I was disappointed that the Conservancy, like many other such groups, appears to have a pro-open borders bent.

For instance, it has taken a position against the border wall. The hook here is the sago palm that, according to slideshows and other documents produced by the Conservancy, is imperiled, and attempts to reseed and propagate the plant in its border environs will be threatened by such a barrier in part because the seed is spread by animal scat.

The logic of such a position seems strained to me. Yes, ground animals, like humans, would be constrained by a physical barrier. Birds, of course, fly where they wish and are almost certainly as likely to act as agents for propagation as four-footed creatures.

However the reason I wasn't surprised by the Nature Conservancy's position is that another "environmental" group — the Sierra Club — also has an overt open borders attitude. As a part of the flurry of holiday season solicitations, my household recently got one from the Sierra Club asking for donations. It made me reflect because, from my work at the Center, I know a little something about their extreme policy attitudes toward immigration, including support for virtually unfettered illegal immigration.

Once upon a time, to the extent that the Sierra Club had a position on immigration, it was one in favor of control because the club recognized the nexus between population growth and the capacity of a country to sustain itself without depletion of its natural resources. But as the New York Times noted in a 2004 article, toward the beginning of the new millennium a fight took place for the heart and soul of the organization over, of all things, immigration. It's clear who won the fight.

Perhaps that might have been okay, had the Sierra Club's positions still been even the least bit nuanced, but they have instead become more extreme, and bled into trenchant and hostile attacks against Donald Trump and immigration enforcement of any kind. They seem to equate the two, but in truth illegal immigration was a problem long before Trump came on the national scene. He was simply the first person running for office to recognize popular frustration with national politicians' unwillingness to take a stand, and to tap into it. Take a look at this screed by Michael Bruno. I don't see a lot about environmental conservation in it.

While you're looking, check out the masthead of the website:

Must all things be about Trump? What happened to simply acting to preserve America's wild lands and places of majesty and beauty?

To circle back on that one little issue of sago palms that the Nature Conservancy uses to justify an anti-border barrier stance: What astounds me is that the Conservancy ("There is no second nature" says its website), and for that matter, of course, the Sierra Club, too, apparently gives no thought whatever to the shockingly harmful effects of the status quo.

Fragile, pristine environments in tribal lands and national and state parks — and even within the large land holdings abutting the border — are being gutted and despoiled by smugglers of humans, drugs, guns, cash, and other contraband moving both north and south, depending on the commodity. These humans leave behind fecal matter, drug paraphernalia, bullet lead and casings, trash from their food, and pieces of equipment and clothing (sometimes ripped from victims of sexual assault). Smugglers and the groups they lead tread paths where none should exist, and in doing so trample on the flora, and sometimes shoot the fauna, that groups like the Nature Conservancy purport to care about. How do these "conservation" groups square that circle?

Needless to say, I pitched the Sierra Club's solicitation into the recycle bin where it belongs, and I won't be contributing to the Nature Conservancy either for that matter. If and when I find an environmental conservancy group that also takes a reasoned and reasonable position on population growth, and is not opposed to balanced immigration enforcement and control, I will gladly contribute.