Next time you find yourself stuck in traffic miles from work — or school or home or daycare — don't blame poor urban planning, low carpooling rates or inadequate public transportation. Blame immigrants.
Next time you find yourself stuck in traffic miles from work — or school or home or daycare — don't blame poor urban planning, low carpooling rates or inadequate public transportation.
That's right, according to high-profile ads placed this summer in The New York Times, Foreign Affairs, The Nation and other publications by a new front group for the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) and two other anti-immigrant hate groups. The ads, which are based on dubious statistical analysis, claim that an immigration-fueled population boom will dramatically worsen traffic congestion and destroy pristine lands.
One ad shows a four-lane highway clogged with vehicles above the caption, "One of America's Most Popular Pastimes." The other depicts a bulldozer clearing forest above the words, "One of America's Best Selling Vehicles."
Starting in June, the ads were placed by an organization calling itself America's Leadership Team for Long Range Population-Immigration-Resource Planning. "We're the nation's leading experts on population and immigration trends and growth," boasts one of the ads.
Actually, America's Leadership Team is a public relations front group for a coalition of five anti-immigration organizations, three of which — FAIR, the American Immigration Control Foundation and the Social Contract Press — are listed as hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center for their links to white supremacists and publication of bigoted materials.
All five of the groups behind America's Leadership Team — the other two are Californians for Population Stabilization and Numbers USA — have been funded in part by John Tanton, the puppet master of the modern anti-immigration movement.
It's not the first time that Tanton and other anti-immigration activists have tried to woo environmentalists in an attempt to gain political support for their cause. In 1996, Tanton lobbied the Sierra Club, the nation's largest environmental organization, to adopt a plank advocating sharp restrictions on immigration. In 2004, an anti-immigration faction tried to take over the Sierra Club by winning election to its board of directors. Both efforts failed.
Experts say that new immigrants in fact add very little to traffic or even congestion woes, although they presumably do so more as they become wealthier and more able to afford personal transportation and larger homes.
"Recent immigrants are in fact substantially less responsible for sprawl (they live in the highest density communities) and traffic (they disproportionately take transit and walk), as they are poor," UCLA urban planning professor Randall Crane E-mailed the Report. "Eventually, they better assimilate into the population and will be more like everyone else, which is to say they are no worse than anyone else."