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PBS’s Bonnie Erbe Accepts Award from Anti-Immigrant Group

The longtime “To the Contrary” host said she no longer considers herself a progressive.

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Bonnie Erbe, the longtime host of the Public Broadcasting Service’s “To The Contrary” program, has long been a proponent of dubious claims that immigration depletes natural resources and worsens global warming, as well as an apologist for the anti-immigrant Center for Immigration Studies (CIS). So it was not really a surprise when  CIS awarded Erbe its annual journalism prize this year for her “reporting on immigration’s effects on health care, poverty, and natural resources, as well as on birth tourism.”

Erbe, who was given the award Tuesday at a gathering at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., told the audience in her acceptance speech that she “no longer” considers herself a progressive, “because I don’t believe the progressives really support the environment.”

Erbe’s speech explicitly acknowledged the coordination of anti-immigrant activism among various organizations associated with CIS, including  the “greenwashing” group Progressives For Immigration Reform (PFIR), and  Numbers USA, which along with CIS and another nativist outfit, the  Federation for American Immigration Reform, are all  part of a network devoted to opposing immigration.

Erbe acknowledged that she works closely with CIS and Numbers USA, and openly accepts their frequently dubious studies as accurate: “We work with them on many projects,” she said, praising them for their growing influence, “shown by the growth of their website and email list they run a very necessary organization with now more than 2 million, I believe.”

She explained her thinking on immigration, saying she doesn’t have a problem with immigrants as people, but as a mass phenomenon: “Anyway, immigrants are fabulous. Immigrants make the best Americans. They work the hardest for the least amount of money. They contribute so much to this country,” she said. “But in the journalistic community, if you dare raise any negative impact of mass immigration that we have now, both legal and illegal, you are shunted aside as some kind of strange person who has – you know, has a very strange approach to reporting.”

Erbe said she became concerned about immigration mostly as an environmental issue, and came to part ways with liberals over the issue of overpopulation, “because they support open-border immigration, pretty much.”

“I certainly came of age as a progressive, but I am no longer a progressive because I don’t believe the progressives really support the environment, and to me, that’s the most important issue. If we don’t deal with climate change and human impact on the planet, there’s not going to be a planet in 50 years, it’s my personal belief,” she said. “And you can’t – you say that in journalistic or political circles, and people look at you cross-eyed. And some – and we get objections from viewers sometimes. We also get great, you know, emails saying, thank you for doing this; I have – I hear this nowhere else on TV. But we also get people who say – you know, call me bad names and say that our – that begins with R – and call us out for just reporting what are the facts.”

Those facts, as Erbe sees it:

We’re not dealing with the fact that we are the major contributors to greenhouse gases and what we do – and this is our cultural disadvantage, but when we do take immigrants from developing nations who have very small carbon footprints, we turn them into the rest of us, who have huge carbon footprints, and turn them into greater contributors to global warming.

And we need to do something somewhere. We’re not doing anything on any of the fronts. Immigration is just one of the fronts where we need to start controlling thing – things, but again, is anybody going to listen? Does anybody care? No.