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Population & Immigration (Summer 1993)

Vol. 4, No. 2: Summer 1993

No argument is more likely to seriously injure the fragile alliance between environmentalists and communities of color – and the growing environmental justice movement which so many have worked so hard to build – than the debate over U.S. immigration policy. Already on the defensive about the white, upper-class male character of their leadership and their behind-the-scenes role in negotiating policies with which low-income communities must live, environmentalists are now accused of legitimizing a racist anti-immigrant movement. Their response is that people of color and social justice advocates for immigrants' and women's rights do not take seriously the global population explosion and its inevitable damage to the earth and all its inhabitants.

This topic is especially hard for our budding movement because it leads us back to the existential values that motivate our work and thus becomes personal. For example, while researching this special issue of Race, Poverty and the Environment, we've noticed a stark, and we think class-based, difference in the language that people use to discuss population and immigration.

We've done a lot of talking to friends and allies in both movements to try to understand the arguments and find the boundaries of the debate. Social justice activists claim that some environmentalists find it easier to close the borders to this nation which uses many more times the energy and raw materials than any of the developing countries from which immigrants come, rather than work to change consumption patterns and industrial practices in the developed world. They claim also that such environmentalists undermine their own ends by refusing to confront the global causes of increased fertility and immigration - the loss of agricultural land by indigenous people, unemployment caused by some ripple in the world market, poverty, debt and the disempowerment of women; Confronting these causes would mean that environmental activists had joined social justice activists in working to change U.S. foreign policy and trade relations that enforce global inequality.

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1   This Modern World
     by Tom Tomorrow

2   Editors' Notes

EDGE Proceedings

3   Why Communities of Color Fear the Population Debate
     by Linda Wong

6   Environmentalists and the Anti-Immigrant Agenda
     by Cathi Tactaquin

9   Optimum Human Population Size
     by Gretchen Daily, Anne Ehrlich & Paul Ehrlich

12 Population Paradigms and Perception
     by Mith Eddy

Why Migration?

15 Why Migration?
     by Saskia Sassen

Women, Race & Class

21 Racism, Birth Control and Reproductive Rights
     by Angela Davis

Sierra Club Migration Wars

24 Not Thinking Globally: The Sierra Club Immigration Policy Wars
     by Hannah Creighton

26 The Right Calls the Shots
     by Ruth Conniff


30 Lessons from Seven Successful Societies
     by Frances Moore Lappe & Rachel Schurman

36 A Proposal for Global Environmental Democracy
     by Anil Agarwal& Sunita Narain

37 Demand for a Chapter on Indigenous Peoples

38 Women's Declaration on Population Policies

Freeways, Communities, and Environmental Justice

41 Oakland's Clean Air Alternative Coalition Fights Environmental Racism: An Interviewwith Eco-Justice Hero Chappell Hayes
     by Penn Loh

Seattle Coalition

44 Environmental Justice Coalition-building in Seattle
     by Hazel Wolf

45 Urban Habitat Program Update

46 Resources

48 Kettleman City Wins the Big One

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