There have been many explanations for California’s growing drought, with the most compelling being years of limited rainfall and strained resources amid a growing state population. While there’s no one culprit to blame for California’s water shortage, the group Californians for Population Stabilization begs to differ. For them, the real reason for the drought is simple: Too many immigrants.
On Sunday, May 24, the Los Angeles Times reported that the Santa Barbara-based advocacy group launched a television spot that aired across the state. In the ad, a boy asks, “If Californians are having fewer children, why isn’t there enough water?” The campaign pins blame for the drought on immigrants and their children, who, according to the group, are straining the state’s natural resources.
California’s population of nearly 40 million does in fact play a role in this most recent drought. While the region itself is familiar with cyclical drought patterns, it has never hosted a population of California’s current scale. And in that current scale, state resources are limited. According to census data reported by the LA Times, California continues to add between 3 million and 4 million residents every decade. Ben Zuckerman, a UCLA astrophysics professor and a board member for Californians for Population Stabilization, said, “Essentially all of California’s rapid population growth has been due to people from other countries and the children of immigrants.
“The larger the population of California, the more difficult it will be to deal with the effects of the drought.”
That may seem like a logical conclusion, but in reality, it’s unlikely that immigrants and their children are straining the state’s resources any more than the next family. William Patzert, a climatologist for NASA, told the LA Times that the blame lies more on a pitiful Sierra snowpack and years of poor resource management, not immigrant water use. In fact, many would be quick to say that immigrants and their families tend to use less water, especially considering they’re more likely to live in multi-family living situations.
“It’s unlikely that the ‘burden’ of immigrants is very significant,” Stephanie Pincetl, professor in residence at the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability at UCLA, told the LA Times.
According to Pincetl, it would be more beneficial to the state and its resources if people ripped out their lawns rather than chased out all the immigrants. What Californians for Population Stabilization don’t realize is that immigrants are more important to the state than its members’ lush Santa Barbara lawns.