Let’s fund clean energy, not a border wall 

Approaching the midterm elections, conservatives employed a fear frenzy around “family security” to mobilize their base, falsely claiming that Democrats supported lax border policies. As a woman in a campaign ad for Rep. Steve ChabotSteven (Steve) Joseph ChabotThis week: Lawmakers return to mourn George H.W. Bush Let’s fund clean energy, not a border wall  Collins to serve as ranking Republican of House Judiciary Committee MORE (R-Ohio) put it, “Nothing is more important than my kid’s safety,” adding that Chabot’s Democratic opponent was a “risk our families can’t take” because of his support for “open borders and amnesty.” Despite significant losses for his party in the midterms, President TrumpDonald John TrumpThe Memo: Ayers decision casts harsh light on Trump NASA offers to show Stephen Curry evidence from moon landings Freedom Caucus calls on leadership to include wall funding, end to 'catch and release' in funding bill MORE continues to peddle his anti-immigrant rhetoric as he once again threatens to hold the country hostage with threats of a government shutdown if Congress doesn’t fund his border wall.

Despite the panicked propaganda from the right that undocumented immigration brings disproportionate violence and harm to American communities, statistics shows just the opposite. Even the CATO Institute’s recently completed analysis of crime rates in Texas documented higher rates of violent crimes and homicide carried out by native-born Americans than undocumented immigrants.

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The real threat to you, your family and the future of our society clearly isn’t immigration, legal or not. The real danger comes from the anti-environment, pro-pollution policies of Trump and his fellow Republicans.

Take the most imminent, pervasive threat to our safety and security: climate change. A report just released by 13 federal agencies, including the EPA and NASA, thoroughly documents the catastrophic impact that climate change is having, and will have, on the U.S. From our economic stability, to public health, to our food systems, to drinking water, to incidents of devastating storms, wildfires, drought, flooding and even national security, climate change is an immediate threat to our wellbeing. In coming decades, our Midwest agricultural region may suffer a 25 percent loss in crop production as clean water resources shrink. Heat-related deaths will number in the thousands while asthma rates and other illnesses will skyrocket. And the national economy will contract by 10 percent by the end of the century. Unemployment, poverty, sickness and starvation could become epidemic, right here in America.

Trump, who claims to trust “his gut” over other people’s brains, says he doesn’t believe the comprehensive report from our own federal scientists. If we want expert advice on bankrupting businesses or how to lie, we should certainly consult Trump. But when it comes to critical climate issues and the fate of a livable planet, we’d be wise to heed the warnings of scientists, economists, and public health professionals that have spent lifetimes devoted to facts and truth.

Even for those industry-beholden climate deniers, a recent Harvard study reviewed the EPA’s own projections of premature deaths and other injuries caused by the Trump administration rollbacks of environmental safety standards, including those related to carbon emissions. The study found that Trump’s anti-environment policies will result in 80,000 American deaths over the next 10 years, and hundreds of thousands of new respiratory illness cases. As Trump famously said during his campaign, he could shoot someone dead on 5th Avenue and his supporters would still vote for him. Turns out his actions are indeed leading to deaths, and it won’t just be 5th Avenue that’s affected—it will be Main Street.

Hopefully, the midterms signaled an end to the public’s willingness to tolerate Trump’s disdain for common decency, and a rejection of the right’s shameful fear mongering around immigration. If you’re a “security voter” who is truly concerned about the safety and wellbeing of your family, then forget spending billions to fund a wall to keep immigrants out, and start demanding funding for a clean, renewable energy future now. Call it a Green New Deal, or simply call it a common-sense plan to keep America safe and healthy. Call it what you like, but call for it now. 

Scott Edwards is the co-director of the climate and energy program at Food & Water Watch, a national advocacy organization.