Birth Control or Border Patrol? the Sierra Club Votes Down an Immigration Initiative

By Motavalli, Jim | E Magazine, July-August 1998 | Go to article overview

Birth Control or Border Patrol? the Sierra Club Votes Down an Immigration Initiative


Motavalli, Jim, E Magazine


There are few issues more politically charged than immigration policy, so its hardly surprising that voices were raised and names were called when the Sierra Club debated the subject last spring. At issue was a ballot initiative proposed by an insurgent group within the club, Sierrans for U.S. Population Stabilization, that would have called for a "reduction in net immigration." In April, the initiative, "Alternative A," lost by a margin of 20 percent in what Sierra Club Executive Director Carl Pope called "a resounding defeat for a misguided policy." Pointing to the 1.5 million unplanned births that occur annually in the U.S., he saw the results as an endorsement of "birth control, not border patrols."

The roots of the controversy are deeply buried, but they came to the surface with a 1996 Sierra Club board of directors vote to "take no position on immigration levels" reversing an earlier stand that committed the club to "lend[ing] its voice to the congressional debate on legal immigration levels when appropriate." Dr. Alan Kuper, a 25-year Sierra Club member based in Ohio, says he organized the initiative to restore the club's "historic position in favor of limiting immigration."

Dr. Kuper's arguments in favor of the initiative are based on the simple proposition that population growth harms the environment, and that immigration must be addressed because it is a major factor in that growth. "We're talking about doubling the U.S. population in less than 70 years, with 80 percent of that growth due to immigrants and their descendants," he says. "That should give anyone pause. You could argue that the whole reason we needed an environmental movement in the first place was because of the doubling that has occurred since World War II. There wasn't a single 1,000-megawatt power plant in the country back then, and we weren't talking about smog in L.A. It's all about population and numbers."

Dr. Kuper says he thought Alternative A "would pass 52-48, something like that" and as a reason for his optimism, he cites the support it got from "environmental heavyweights" like the Worldwatch Institute's Lester Brown, Earth Day founder Gaylord Nelson, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society's Paul Watson, Harvard's Dr. E.O. Wilson and Earth First! co-founder Dave Foreman. Dr. Kuper blames the defeat on "the race card that got played really heavily." And that's where the name-calling comes in.

The debate over the initiative soon grew beyond the Sierra Club, with population groups on both sides of the issue weighing in with mailings to members (and to environmental journalists). The Sierra Club itself, which lobbied heavily against the ballot measure, claimed that "closing America's borders does nothing to lower the number of people consuming the planet's resources." In a mailing, the club said that some advocates of Alternative A "are extremists acting from racial prejudice." After citing KKK leader David Duke (who attacks immigration on his web page), the mailing zeroed in on the real target: Dan Stein, executive director of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). Stein's has been probably the loudest voice making the environment/immigration connection, and he's become a lightning rod for criticism, with direct attacks from both the Sierra Club and the mainstream group Zero Population Growth (ZPG).

John Seager, policy director at ZPG (which also declines to get specific about immigration targets), calls FAIR "just reprehensible. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Birth Control or Border Patrol? the Sierra Club Votes Down an Immigration Initiative
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.