Deputy Director’s Corner

Deputy Director’s Corner
NPG Deputy Director Tracy Canada can be reached by email at

I was deeply dismayed to see that earlier this month, President Obama chose to reinstate the infamous (and dangerous) Catch and Releaseprogram along our nation’s borders. According to Congressional testimony given by Brandon Judd, president of the National Border Patrol Council: “The willful failure to show up for court appearances by persons that were arrested and released by the Border Patrol has become an extreme embarrassment for the Department of Homeland Security” (DHS). But instead of cracking down and enforcing our nation’s laws…

“Undocumented immigrants are no longer given a ‘notice to appear’ order, because they simply ignore them.”

President Obama and DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson have claimed this is about “prioritizing” department resources: “deportation and border agents should worry chiefly about dangerous immigrants and new arrivals. Those with deeper ties to the U.S. who have not amassed criminal records should be passed over.” However, Judd informed Congress that this policy has opened some glaring – and dangerous – holes.

“…The new policy ‘makes mandatory the release… of any person arrested… for being in the country illegally, as long as they do not have a previous felony conviction and… they claim to have been… in the United States since January of 2014. The operative word here is ‘claim.’ The policy does not require the person to prove they have been here… Instead, it simply requires them to claim to have been here….”

Judd highlighted what NPG has long held: “We might as well abolish our immigration laws altogether.”

Clearly, this flagrant abuse of America’s immigration laws must not be tolerated. As a nation, we must uphold and preserve the rule of law – or all else will lose meaning. However, these recent immigration problems bring to mind a more common challenge faced by NPG:

Why does a U.S. population and environmental
organization care about immigration?

The question is a fair one. What does immigration have to do with U.S. population size and growth? What does immigration have to do with environmental protection? After all, global population numbers don’t change when an immigrant comes to the U.S. – so why does immigration matter to NPG?

The most common excuse for today’s mass immigration levels is “it will help our economy!” We are told over and over that by admitting over 1 million legal immigrants each year – and current programs providing de facto amnesty for over 11 million illegal aliens – we are actually building a stronger economy to power America through the decades ahead. However… this is not actually true. This would only be true if perpetual, exponential economic growth were sustainable.

Only if we expect – or could accomplish – a never-ending upward economic curve (which more and more economists are saying is impossible) would we need such a constant influx of millions of mostly low-skill and low-wage workers.

On the environmental front, we all know that even with conservation, reduced consumption, recycling, and all forms of “green” programs employed – the larger our population grows, the greater our impact on the planet through pollution, over-development, and greenhouse gas emissions. As our population grows, we are inevitably worsening climate change – and this particularly true for Americans.

  • In 2014, the U.S. had less than 5% of the world’s population – but was responsible for over 20% of global oil consumption.
  • Since 1970, the U.S. has worked to establish environmental protection policies – but because of population growth, our consumption and emissions rates remain problematic.
  • Every hour, the U.S. loses fifty acres of farm and ranch land due to sprawl and development.
  • Water use in the U.S. has nearly doubled since 1950, growing right alongside our population.
  • In 2013, Americans generated 254 million tons of trash – representing 4.4 pounds per person per day – and our total garbage creation has nearly tripled since 1960.

So how does this tie in to America’s immigration problem? A 2008 study found that immigrants produce “an estimated four times more CO2 in the U.S.” than they would have produced in their home countries. U.S. immigrants were estimated to produce 637 million metric tons of CO2 emissions annually” – which is 482 million tons MORE than they would have produced in their countries of origin.

“If the 482 million ton increase in… emissions caused by immigration to the United States were a separate country, it would rank 10th in the world in emissions.”

Immigration will soon become the primary driver of U.S. population growth. We cannot stop in our critical battle to slow, halt, and reverse this growth – which includes taking immediate action to eliminate unlawful immigration, drastically limit legal immigration levels, and enact all possible environmental protection and resource preservation methods. With YOUR help, we can continue to wage – and win – this war for America’s future!

Tracy Henke

Tracy Henke served as Deputy Director of NPG from 2012 to 2017, contributing to the structure and development of NPG’s publications programs. Acting as NPG’s principal editor and a contributing author – as well as a regular contact for the public and media, Tracy extensively researched U.S. population issues and worked to establish significant grassroots support for the NPG mission. She holds a degree in Leadership & Social Change from Virginia Tech, with a professional background in non-profit and program management.

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