Sierra Club Changes Position on Immigration

Ever since the divisive, internecine battles almost a decade ago, Sierra Club has steered clear of taking decisive postions on immigration - until April 24 when their board unanimously endorsed a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.
April 28, 2013, 7am PDT | Irvin Dawid
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Arguably no issue more than immigration has divided the country's largest environmental organization, the Sierra Club. For environmentalists who feel that the preeminent environmental issue is population growth, immigration to the U.S. is part of the problem.

Lisa Hymas provides some background and references regarding the decision by the Board of Directors - directly elected by the 1.4 million members, of the largest environmental organization in the U.S.

Over the past decade and a half, the club has had vicious leadership battles over immigration and population.

Anna Palmer And Darren Samuelsohn of Politico Pro add, "Sierra Club leaders in the mid-2000s fought off an insurgent effort trying to have the club take an explicitly anti-immigration stance, with some members claiming it was needed to overcome the effects of more people living more consumptive American life styles. The effort fell apart after a pitched battle."

In the club's press release, Executive Director Michael Brune states:

The 20 million Americans with family members whose legal status is in limbo share the Sierra Club's concerns about climate and the environment.  Yet, this vital set of stakeholders and change agents has been denied civil rights.  The Sierra Club is committed to partnering with all who share our urgent concerns about advancing our democracy and fighting the climate crisis.”

Others have made the connection of immigration to environmentalism and urbanism. Sudha Nandagopal of Grist wrote on April 16, "How immigration reform can lead us to a stronger environmental movement." Planetizen reported on April 25 on a Richard Florida essay as to "why more liberal policies could be a boon for America's cities."

The club's new position occurred three days after the 175th birthday of the their founder, John Muir, himself an immigrant from Scotland.

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Published on Thursday, April 25, 2013 in Daily Grist
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