A half-century ago, Oregon Gov. Tom McCall had a message for residents of neighboring states. "Come visit us," he implored. "But for heaven's sake, don't come here to live."
McCall understood that a rapidly expanding population would stress the state's air, water and land. But today's "environmentalists?" Not only do they eschew sustainable population growth, they champion that part of the population whose presence here is the most preventable — and violates U.S. law to boot.
In a recent joint statement, Doug Moore and Erica Stock — representing, respectively, the Oregon League of Conservation Voters and the Sierra Club's Oregon chapter — lambasted the efforts of Oregonians for Immigration Reform to stem illegal immigration to our state. "How can we not welcome," they asked, the illegal immigrants "who move in search of a better life?"
Here are some answers to their question.
Already, the Federation for American Immigration Reform has estimated, some 170,000 illegal immigrants reside in Oregon.
Their impact? "One acre of natural habitat or farmland is converted to built-up space or highway for each person added to the U.S. population," reports the Carrying Capacity Network, which advocates for sustainable U.S. population levels. Every additional person in our country, environmental scientist Peter H. Gleick has estimated, uses 1,600 cubic meters of fresh water annually. And every added car, notes the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, "emits about 4.7 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year."
Oregon's population already tops 4 million. Between 2015 and 2016, Portland State University's Population Research Center has calculated, that population grew by more than 62,000, or 1.6 percent — a rate that will double the number of people here in slightly more than 40 years. Absent restraints, the illegal immigration championed by Moore and Stock will exacerbate the growth that will degrade our air quality, stress our water supplies, and eat up ever more undeveloped and arable land.
Oregonians for Immigration Reform has worked successfully to deter illegal immigration to our state. In 2014, OFIR spearheaded the ballot measure via which two-thirds of voting Oregonians rejected the Legislature's attempt to grant state driving privileges to illegal immigrants — privileges which would have drawn even more of them here.
This summer, OFIR activists are collecting signatures to put Initiative Petition 22 onto the November 2018 statewide ballot. If they succeed, Oregonians will have a chance to repeal the state law that keeps police and sheriffs from offering their full help to federal immigration authorities — a law that has made our state an inviting destination for illegal immigrants.
Were he alive today, David Brower, the Sierra Club's first executive director, likely would have supported OFIR's efforts. "Overpopulation is perhaps the biggest problem facing us, and immigration is part of that problem," he stated flatly. "You don't have a conservation policy unless you have a population policy." Moore and Stock endorse a population policy that encourages unbounded illegal immigration. What does that say about their commitment to a clean, sustainable, livable Oregon?
One can't be both pro-environment and pro-illegal immigration. Even if their "leaders" don't understand this, many rank-and-file members of OLCV and the Sierra Club doubtless do. They should join with members of Oregonians for Immigration Reform to help reduce illegal immigration to our state.
Richard F. LaMountain is a longtime member and former vice president of Oregonians for Immigration Reform (oregonir.org). He lives in Cedar Mill.