Are immigrants to blame for California’s drought?

May 26, 2015

immigrationA statewide media campaign pinning blame for California’s drought on immigrants has kicked off a debate on whether state immigration laws have an affect on water shortages. [LA Times]

Santa Barbara-based Californians for Population Stabilization has long called for tougher immigration laws and stricter enforcement of existing ones. The group, which is known as CAPS, is now running television commercials arguing that California’s natural resources cannot sustain the current levels of population growth.

“If Californians are having fewer children, why isn’t there enough water?,” a young boy asks in a CAPS commercial that has aired across the state.

CAPS is also asking its 128,000 Facebook followers to “Like if you agree California’s drought could have been prevented with responsible immigration policies and limited population growth.”

Some academics and columnists have publicy agreed with the CAPS stance on the drought. Stanford academic Victor Davis Hanson wrote in a National Review column that California has well over 10 million more residents now that it had during the last drought in the early 1990s.

Hanson and others say California census data shows that 1 in 4 residents was born outside of the country.

UCLA astrophysics professor Ben Zuckerman said California’s rapid population growth is essentially due to people coming from other countries, as well as the children of immigrants. Zuckerman, who also sits on the CAPS board, says that impacts the drought.

“The larger the population of California, the more difficult it will be to deal with the effects of the drought,” Zuckerman said.

But, some drought experts disagree and point to other factors as causes of the drought.

NASA climatologist William Patzert said the drought is caused by meager snowpack and poor planning, “not because the immigrants are drinking too much water or taking too many showers.” Blaming the drought on immigrants does not fit the facts, Patzert said.

Others point out that the majority of the state’s water is used to support agriculture and that immigrants tend to live in multi-family dwellings, as opposed to higher-consuming single-family homes. Stephanie Pincetl, a professor at UCLA’s Institute of Environment and Sustainability said Californians would better served by tearing up their lawns than kicking out immigrants who contribute to the economy.

“Do we want to have economic decline?” Pincetl said. “Do we not want to have agriculture? Do we want to not have housekeepers?”


No one is to blame for a drought. Droughts are cyclical. But plenty of blame can be dished out towards elected officials that do not wish to address the real important issues facing our state like droughts water shortfalls and illegal aliens.

No one was prepared, we all have seen this before, we all saw this on the horizon and sat back and did nothing like helpless lumps on a log.

Well humans are not helpless, we can do things in advance to mitigate the damage of a long term drought.

We just need leaders with the foresight and the guts it takes to run a state the size of California. We’ve been talking about desal plants and some have been built; we should be talking about new dams and reservoirs. But we don’t dare. People in Sacramento laugh at a water pipeline but it sounds feasible to me.

I know one thing; doing the Brown shuffle and proclaiming that some things are just impossible to achieve or just saying well that’s global warming and we can’t fix it is sophomoric at best. But that is what we hear from our leaders and we take it.

No drought should cause as much hardship as this one has. We as the people of California just do not have the right tools and people in place to handle a drought.

Elections have consequences…


While the legislators are indeed responsible for much of this as you point out, we (collectively) elected them because we (collectively) are at least as short-sighted as they are. Incidentally, that short-sightedness also includes an unwillingness to conserve if it means noticeable personal inconvenience — a characteristic of so-called conservatives as well as many liberals.

Brown may well be correct when he says that we can’t do much about global warming but it is because people all over the world share this type of short-sightedness.


Liberals like the lax immigration laws because it creates more liberals… More of the lazy entitlement society,(more democratic votes) and less of the people that pay the bills in the late great golden state. The “legal” population of red states is and has been increasing for the past 10 years while the “legal” population of blue states has been decreasing because we/they are tired of outrageous taxes to pay for people who want a free ride.


Very interesting point of view. How do you reconcile it with the fact that the states taking in more from the feds than they contribute are primarily red states and those that do the opposite are primarily blue? Could you perhaps have a warped perception due to the media from which you prefer to get your info.

P.S. I don’t consider myself a Democrat in any way. I agree with them on some issues but vehemently disagree on others. I just get tired of all the misinformation promoted by the conservative media. (I should probably not expose myself to it so much but I do like to hear both sides of the story.)


I checked your numbers and for the most part they’re true… What you failed to mention was that ALL of these upstarts and immigrant business owners get discounted education and next to nothing interest on business loans… While people that were born here and have been here for generations don’t get this special treatment and never did… Guess it’s punishment for paying taxes and not sending our hard earned money to another country. Btw (the people that started all of the companies and forms that you pointed out… Yahoo… etc, etc… Aren’t the problem. They’re contributors to the local and state economy not strains on it. You put a nice twist on your comment but anyone with half a brain and a little common sense can see the truth. Research, research, research.


On an semi-related note, the notion that water should follow any sort of geopolitical line is nonsense at best.

Whining about farmers exporting “California’s” water with their almonds, alfalfa, etc. is only a valid argument if you concurrently acknowledge that much of “California’s” water actually comes from Arizona via the Colorado River.


Actually it mostly comes from Colorado. It merely passes through Arizona and Nevada on its way here.


Another way to look at it is that it belongs to Mexico, since that’s who would receive that 400 million acre feet of water if we hadn’t diverted it to So Cal.


For those of you who have procreated and brought into this world consumers of water when water is scarce, I would suggest, when looking to blame, finding yourself a mirror. There is probably one or two in one or two of your bathrooms.

Theo P. Neustic

I salute you then, for not adding to the problem with more of your ilk

JB Bronson

We don’t complain when they pick the fruits and vegetables we eat, but now we want to blame them for our water shortage? Stupid.

If immigrants weren’t so willing to pick wine grapes, we might have less of a water shortage. Any and all other arguments blaming immigrants, legal and illegal, are stupid.


Wouldn’t the same specious argument hold true for organic peaches and/or almonds and/or any other p.c. California crop that uses significant water?


Stanford ‘academic’ ( fancy word for ‘pundit’ ) says that California has “…well over ten million more residents now than it had during the last drought in the early 1990’s”.

California had NO members of the so-called ‘Tea Party’ then, and since 2009 they have been ubiquitous in news reports and elsewhere.

Clearly, there is an undisputed direct correlation between the growth of this upstart movement and the corresponding drought.

California had plenty of immigrants before, but no drought until the

‘Tea Party’ showed up after 2009. They MUST be the proximate cause of our water woes !

Jorge Estrada

The Standford statistics you quote include the cause of a pain in the ass with safe sex or the placement of tea bags. That is their understanding of the Tea Party.


Sure, all immigrants are leaches who suck the life out of the state’s economy. Then why is it that:

– 30% of California workers with advanced degrees are foreign-born;

– 36.6% of California business owners are immigrants;

– 44.6% of new businesses started in the state between 2007-2010 were founded by immigrants;

– 13 California-based Fortune 500 firms—including eBay, Yahoo! and Qualcomm—were founded or co-founded by immigrants;

– 52% of Silicon Valley startups between 1995 and 2005—including Facebook and Tesla Motors—had at least one immigrant founder…


C’mon unlisted, you know what the response will be. It is ILLEGAL immigrants who cause all the problems (not caused by Obama.) No more than half of the immigrants in your listings above came here illegally — sometimes less than 10%.

Seriously, there are some problems with illegal immigration including the burden it puts on government services in cities and counties. But it provides some benefits too and, in the big picture, it is not a major negative.


If YOU were writing checks to pay the bills for Illegal Criminal aliens and their mucho-expensive anchor Babies, and realized your taxes will go up to pay for them, you’d be singing a different tune.

That is… unless, like Socialist Bernie Sanders of the “foul odor,” you want 90% of your salary to belong to the gubmint.


Increasing population is the main problem facing humans. Too many people cause a variety of problems. But yes immigrants do seem to breed more than established populations maybe it has something to do with establishing more family in the new area.


Actually, it has more to do with receiving a fatter check.