Why anti-immigrant is anti-environment
Update July 2016: All of the anti-immigrant measures mentioned here failed to qualify for the ballot!
It’s good news for our united coalition, but also a reason to double-down and stay united. Anti-immigrant extremists are likely to return with a greater push in the future.
This spring, you’ll encounter people with clipboards circulating around the state, collecting petition signatures to qualify their measures for the November ballot. We urge you to pledge now to decline to sign the anti-immigrant measures, and urge your friends to do the same.
There is no doubt that Oregon is now, and will increasingly become, a state with a diverse population. Today, one in ten Oregonians was born outside of the United States. Latino and Asian Oregonians (born in the U.S. or elsewhere) contribute $15.6 billion in consumer purchasing and employ 40,000 people. Our state’s workforce includes hundreds of thousands of immigrants, who pay hundreds of millions in taxes.
When we restrict thousands of people from participating in civic and economic duties, we also restrict people from creating, participating in and complying with environmental programs. This can be harmful to our environment and put people in harms way.
Oregon Environmental Council has joined a growing coalition coming together to defeat three extreme anti-immigrant ballot measures. We believe these measures are an attack on Oregon communities that undermines our work for clean air, clean water and healthy places to live.
Restricts all government information and documents -including those at schools- to be published only in English. No government job could require applicants to be competent in a language other than English.
Kick Oregon voters off the voter rolls within 10 years unless they re-register and provide proof of U.S. citizenship, as well as reduce number of acceptable IDs, making it harder to register to vote.
Place a heavy burden on businesses large and small by requiring them to enter into an agreement with the federal government and apply for a new license with additional rules and regulations, or risk losing their license to employ people altogether.
These measures are anti-immigrant; Oregon Environmental Council also recognizes them to be anti-environment.
In Oregon, many of our most marginalized communities where pollution is at its worst are made up of people of color. In these neighborhoods, people experience greater exposures to toxics and higher rates of disease related in part to those toxics. If we make it harder for some people to make a living and be self-sufficient, we perpetuate these inequities. And if we make it harder for people to learn about bad air days, water quality concerns and good environmental practices from state programs, we increase their risk of illness.
To address these unequal environmental burdens, our nation promises every resident meaningful participation in environmental decision-making. When we disrupt employment, education and civic engagement—as these ballot measures will do—we also seriously limit the capacity of people to meaningfully engage in solutions.
If Oregon chooses policies that make it more difficult for these Oregonians to vote, work and participate in state programs, we lose the benefit of their contributions as entrepreneurs, workers and consumers.
Diverse participation is a key environmental strategy. Imagine controlling pesticides without talking to pesticide applicators, or ensuring safer products without talking to people who make, sell and buy them. Without engaging stakeholders from all corners of Oregon, many of our environmental programs would be far less efficient and effective.
Polls consistently show that people who identify as Latino or Asian/Pacific Islander value the environment and are in favor of strong conservation and climate policies. The mission of Oregon Environmental Council includes giving Oregonians the tools they need to act on their environmental values. That includes removing barriers to participation.