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PRI's Environmental News Magazine

Listener Letters

Air Date: Week of March 27, 1998

Last week, we asked listeners what you thought of the Sierra Club’s referendum on limiting immigration in the name of the environment. Well, the letters and calls are still coming in, and there’s a pretty even split between those who support the idea and those who don't.

Transcript

CURWOOD: And now it's time to hear from you, our listeners. Last week, we asked you what you thought of the Sierra Club's referendum on limiting immigration in the name of the environment. Well, the letters and calls are still coming in, and it's a pretty even split between those who support the idea and those who do not. Among those who oppose immigration limits is John Bonell, who hears us on New Hampshire Public Radio.

BONELL: If there are statistics that the United States consumes a disproportionate amount of energy and creates and disproportionate amount of waste, we should welcome people from Third World countries coming into our country so that we might change our old habits. To somehow think, though, that we should keep them out so that we can preserve our own consumerism and our own mismanagement is very elitist, very nationalistic, and is not thinking globally.

CURWOOD: But Ward McCartney, who hears us on KUFM in Missoula, Montana, disagrees.

MC CARTNEY: This isn't a racist issue. This is simply a numbers issue. When my 12-year-old is 65 years old or around there, she's going to be living with half a billion fellow Americans. And I don't want to leave the country to her in that form. That's just too many people. It's just irresponsible for us to leave our children with that burden of humanity.

CURWOOD: Will Richan, a listener to WHYY in Philadelphia, has another perspective. He wonders how the vote could affect the Sierra Club's credibility.

RICHAN: The Sierra Club's poll of its members on the immigration issue is a classic case of an organization getting off-message and allowing a faction to turn its special agenda into a debatable issue. The departure of 1,000 members over this issue should serve as a warning to the leadership. The anti-environmental forces must be cheering the potential demise of a great organization.

CURWOOD: And finally, Jacqueline Wood wrote from Seattle, where she hears us on KUOW. She felt that our discussion left out some important points. "Nothing was mentioned," she writes, "about the positive effects of immigration. For example, foreign scientists, engineers, and other professionals who immigrate to the US provide invaluable assistance in researching and resolving a variety of concerns facing our nation and the planet." And she adds, "I'm certain most Native Americans would prefer to live in the America that existed prior to the arrival of Europeans. Just about all of us are immigrants."

You can reach us by calling our listener line any time at 800-218-9988. That's 800-218-9988. Or you can e-mail us at LOE@NPR.ORG. You're listening to NPR's Living on Earth. I'm Steve Curwood.

 

 

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