(CBS SF) — An advocacy group dedicated to limiting immigration to California has unveiled a controversial TV ad linking mass immigration to the state’s environmental issues.
The ad from Californians for Population Stability (CAPS) – timed for release on Earth Day – claims immigrants are to blame for the state water shortages, pollution, traffic and overall environmental degradation.
In the ad, a young boy asks questions such as “If Californians are having fewer children, why are there so many cars?” and “If Californians are having fewer children, why isn’t there enough water?” An announcer answers: “Over 98% of California’s population growth is from immigration.”
In a press release, CAPS Executive Director Jo Wideman said, “Part of the solution to reversing California’s environmental decline, while not politically correct or convenient, is certainly simple. If we slow mass immigration, we can slow population growth and save some California for tomorrow.”
Not mentioned in the CAPS ad are the effects of California’s historic drought on the state’s water supply and a 2013 University of Southern California study showing declining migration and falling birthrates in the state.
Meanwhile, the Public Policy Institute of California says immigration in the 2000s increased by only 15 percent compared to a 37 percent increase in the 1990s.
Liberal blog ThinkProgress also points out that the CAPS claim that immigrants are contributing to the state’s congested roads flies in the face of research in the journal Transport Policy that finds immigrants drive less and are twice as likely to use public transit than U.S.-born residents.
The California Immigrant Policy Center (CIPC) told the Huffington Post that “CAPS is an extremist hate group that isn’t rooted in any reality.”
“They’re basically trying to find any way to spin their anti-immigrant vitriol, so hey, why not choose the environment?” CIPC executive director Reshma Shamasunder told HuffPost.
In a 2013 interview, former CAPS chair and current board member Marilyn DeYoung said the California DREAM Act – which allows undocumented immigrant students to receive scholarships for state schools – is “dangerous” because:
“a baby can join a gang and then commit a crime, a baby can drop out of school and become a criminal, a baby grows up. . . . Children of illegal aliens who were brought here under this stupid birthright citizenship visa. They’re not getting into the depth of whether they’re communist or whether they’re drug smugglers or had felonies or had been in prison or anything. They know how to game our benefits—they’re on food stamps, they go to the hospital, get free education, free medical care.”
Wideman later said DeYoung comments did not reflect those of the CAPS organization. DeYoung is no longer chair but is still listed as a board member.