No On Prop 23: Secret Out-of-State Funders Are Bad For Immigrants, The Environment

Our guest bloggers are Center for American Progress Senior Vice President Araceli Ruano and Green Opportunity Research Associate Jorge Madrid.

No On Prop 23: Aire LimpioThe forces behind Proposition 23 are hiding a lot of dirty secrets. Not only are they attempting to effectively repeal California’s iconic environmental protection laws, they are also funding a national campaign against immigrants, and collaborating with anti-immigrant extremist groups:

Koch Industries – One of the biggest polluters in the country and by no coincidence the nation’s biggest spender on dirty energy lobbying. In addition to pushing Prop 23, they are also financing the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) — a powerful front group that helped Arizona lawmakers craft the notorious SB 1070 law. SB 1070 essentially legalizes racial profiling against suspected immigrants, especially against Latinos and other people of color. The Koch-funded group aims to promote Arizona “copy-cat” laws around the country.

Assemblyman Dan Logue (R- Chico) – The California lawmaker who introduced Prop 23 and called climate change “a scam” is also an infamous anti-immigrant voice. Last year, he paid large sums of campaign money to Jim Gilchrist, the founder of the Minuteman Project, an extremist anti-immigrant vigilante group. Also, while campaigning for his assembly seat, he regularly made appearances with Chris Simcox, president of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps – whose hallmark speeches included racially charged rants against immigrants.

It also should be noted that Mr. Logue is in league with the Texas oil companies who are sponsoring prop 23. For the last several years, the Assemblyman accepted large donations from Valero, even though the oil company has no operations in Logue’s northern California district.

The Tea Party – California members of the fringe political group have recently taken up the Prop 23 cause, and are rallying for support. The Tea Party has been a strong supporter of Arizona’s draconian anti-immigrant laws, with one party rally championing Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, known for his extreme approaches to intimidate and humiliate immigrants. It should be no surprise that this radical group supports Prop 23; they are yet another front organization being bankrolled by Koch Industries.

Prop 23 adds insult to injury. Immigrant groups, especially Latinos, are disproportionately harmed by greenhouse gases and toxic emissions. One in six Latinos has been diagnosed with asthma in California, and Latinos also comprise 60 percent of the people living within a half mile of the top 100 emitters of toxic pollutants in places like Los Angeles County. Add to this the increased cases of cancer, birth defects, and hospitalizations – dirty energy is a death trap for these communities.

The recession has hit the construction and manufacturing sectors particularly hard, and many Latinos, including recent immigrants, have historically found work and gained access to wealth building and the middle class in these sectors. Proposition 23 would destroy half a million jobs in California (many in construction and high-tech manufacturing). Conversely, a new study has indicated that from 1995 to 2008, manufacturing employment in core green economy expanded by 19 percent, while there was a nine percent drop in total manufacturing employment.

When we connect the dots, it becomes clear that supporters of Prop 23 care little, if at all, for the environment, immigrants and Latino communities. Even worse, it appears these groups feel they can use immigrants, particularly Latinos, as their political ‘whipping boy’ in order to garner votes from conservatives and opponents of reasonable immigration reform.

This strategy should be great cause for concern. In the fight against climate change, Latinos and immigrants are a strong ally. Latinos make up about 20 percent of the electorate and 37 percent of the population in California. Polls have shown that Latino voters don’t accept the false choice between the economy and the environment. Latinos are the most likely racial/ethnic group to consider regional air pollution a big problem, as well as the most likely group that considers the effects of global warming is already happening.

The supporters of Prop 23 and their dirty money are attacking immigrants and Latinos from all directions — they should be exposed for their unconscionable agendas.