The Santa Barbara-based nonprofit CAPS has been running an ad on television for a week in Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego blaming immigrants for the state's water shortage, traffic congestion, air pollution and general environmental degradation.
“Part of the solution to reversing California’s environmental decline, while not politically correct or convenient, is certainly simple,” CAPS Executive Director Jo Wideman wrote in a press release. “If we slow mass immigration, we can slow population growth and save some California for tomorrow.”
The ad features an adolescent boy asking what seem to him to be deep, probing questions about life that have an obvious common-sense answer. “If Californians are having fewer children, why is it so crowded?” he asks. “If Californians are having fewer children, why are there so many cars? If Californians are having fewer children, why isn't there enough water? If Californians are having fewer children, where are all the people coming from?”
The answer: “Over 98% of California's population growth is from immigration,” a voice-over announcer intones as type on the screen warns, “Let's save some California for tomorrow.”
Although it's hardly necessary, ThinkProgress responded to the ad with a point-by-point refutation. They cited studies that indicate the state is on the verge of a historic decline in migration and falling birthrates. They noted that immigrants are far less likely to own a vehicle and far more likely to use mass transit. As for the water shortage, they suggest that the worst drought in California history might have something to do with it.
But it is far easier to blame minorities than wretched public policy, global environmental decline, corporate irresponsibility and the vicissitudes of life. And that is a specialty of CAPS.
Board member Marilyn DeYoung, who was the chair in 2013, told the Latino social media advocacy Cuentame in an interview last year that the California DREAM Act, which gives illegal immigrant students access to private college 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.”
DeYoung's comments were denounced by Wideman after the interview went viral on YouTube. The executive director said they don't represent the views of CAPS, which she said are not anti-Latino. DeYoung gave up the chairmanship and took a brief sabbatical after her star turn. But she is still listed as a board member.