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The immigrant dream.

I am in disbelief that E ran a full-page ad from Negative Population Growth (March/April 2005) that promoted an anti-immigration message. Have the editors forgotten that this country was built on the backs of immigrants? The contribution of Chinese people in building our railroads and in business sectors; of African slaves who built the cotton economy and their descendants who raised the children of Southern elites and shone in the entertainment and sports industries; of Hispanic farm workers under grueling conditions; of Jews in the media, academia and social change movements?

Today, the number of the world's political prisoners who risk torture and death if they do not immigrate is increasing. And because of the disastrous economic consequences of globalization, the world's poor are more desperate and in need of economic opportunity, than ever. To many, this means immigrating to the United States. The same values of preservation, respect, and broad-mindedness that underlie the Endangered Species Act should be applied to human beings who are at risk. All your other ads bespeak generosity, compassion and environmental awareness: how did this one slip in?

Ann Spanel

Cambridge, MA

I am writing in vehement objection to your running of an advertisement by Negative Population Growth (NPG) that advocates drastic limits on American immigration laws, supposedly as a measure to reduce strain on the environment. I am very surprised that a publication claiming a sensitive and progressive outlook on global issues would provide a forum for a group whose platform is at best a badly misguided approach to conservation, and at worst a thinly veiled racist mandate, all the more insidious for its usurping of an environmentalist ethic.

NPG's website states that "the U.S. has five percent of the world's population but consumes 25 percent of its resources." Indeed, it's true, but these numbers need to be examined more closely. Who is using these resources? Who owns the polluting SUVs, the large properties to be heated and cooled, the endless variety of energy-consuming household appliances, the big smoke-spewing factories? Is it the average immigrant, who is most likely to be working in a minimum-wage job, or the illegal refugee, who is lucky to find employment of any kind? I think not. If NPG is truly concerned about the impact of population growth on American resources, its campaign should focus on advocating birth control for the upper and middle classes.

Chandra McCann

Via e-mail

While I understand that you have to earn money by placing ads, I'm once again outraged about the Negative Population Growth ad. Under the pretense of being concerned about natural resource preservation and environmental protection in the U.S., this group blames immigrants for America's problems rather than focusing on the exorbitant resource use by Americans themselves.

As an alternative to pointing fingers, NPG should educate the public about how American consumerism is using up natural resources all over the globe, especially in Southeast Asia and Africa. Why not be enraged about the fact that the U.S. is shipping off its toxic waste burden to developing countries in order to maintain its "standard of living"?

Tanja Hermann

An immigrant from Germany

Elgin, TX

The editor responds: Immigration is hotly debated in the environmental community. While we don't necessarily agree with the content of every ad submitted to us, we also don't believe in censoring green-themed ads unless they're misleading or factually inaccurate in some way. We similarly welcome diverse readers' opinions.
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Title Annotation:ADVICE & DISSENT: Letters from our readers
Author:Hermann, Tanja
Article Type:Letter to the Editor
Date:Jul 1, 2005
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