While the Supreme Court hears arguments about immigration in DC, the issue is having an impact on a local Austin event. Sierra Club pulled out of the Earth Day Festival due to anti-immigration sympathies of Trammell Crow, the new underwriters of Austin’s Festival on April 23rd. (See Statesman article for background) Other citizens weigh in.
(Note: this is a press release I sent out, so is written in third person)
Anti ILLEGAL Immigration
According to Pete Garcia, owner of LoneStar Patio for 20 years and an immigrant from Colombia “There is a word left out when talking about being anti-immigration. I am anti-ILLEGAL-immigration but not anti-immigration. There are quotas and criteria for becoming a resident of the US and illegal immigrants are going around that system.” Pete believes that no matter what group has a booth, immigration should not be a topic at Earth Day.
Who is Hiring the Immigrants?
As a native of Laredo Sara Laas has seen the immigration issue up close. When asked her opinion about anti-immigration groups at Earth Day she said “My question is “Who is hiring the illegal immigrants?” If these anti-Immigration groups want to restrict illegal immigration they should be looking for where these people are working.”
She points out that the immigrants wouldn’t come to the US unless someone is hiring them. The companies hiring illegal workers aren’t paying Social Security, Workman’s Comp, Unemployment or any other benefits. That means these companies have an unfair advantage over companies that are hiring American workers. Address immigration by looking for those companies.
As far as Earth Day “I’m in favor of free speech. But that doesn’t mean I’m not free to go there and pepper them with questions.” For instance, one of her questions is whether Trammell Crow or its subcontractors hire illegal immigrants.
Martin Luther King Jr.
“History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.”
This is the Martin Luther King Jr quoted by Roy Perry when asked if he would agree with the Ku Klux Klan having a booth at the Earth Day Festival. Roy is an African American who has been an executive in Fortune 100 companies and a CEO of startups. Understandably he has strong opposition to the views of the Ku Klux Klan, as similarly polarized as anti-immigration.
Roy said that it’s un-American to not allow views to be expressed; staying away means your voice cannot be heard – your silence is speaking instead. Roy’s message to the Sierra Club is “do not let them get you off your message on Earth Day. Do not let them silence you. Do NOT let an underwriter or exhibitor deter the mission and message of so many years.” He believes that Austinites are smart enough to make good decisions.
Earth Day Policies
I agree. It’s critical for ALL of us to come together for a healthy sustainable planet without exclusion due to race, religion, political views or any other reason.
Earth Day should be about Earth Day’s mission and should endorse a policy whereby organizations can be exhibitors and play an active role in the Festival only with respect to supporting that mission and any other views should not to be expressed on that day. Either participants agree to comply or they must pull themselves out of the Festival. If they do not comply on the day, they should be removed from the Festival.
According to Asher Price’s article in the Statesman, Jerry Hess, CEO of Earth Day Texas states that “any group that will discuss topics relevant to conservation and sustainability” is welcome. I interpret this to mean the anti-immigration groups would be welcome to express their views in support of the environment, but since views on immigration don’t relate to Earth Day’s mission they would not be allowed. I expect that Earth Day Dallas will uphold that.
I see this as an opportunity for alignment of seemingly opposing groups of people. Sierra Club and others have been making their voices heard about the environment for a long time, and at times against heavy opposition. Let this Earth Day be a time for the opposition to come to an end. Let it show that Sierra Club and others have done their job well.
Austin can benefit from the perspective of Trammell Crow on inclusiveness. Dallas exhibitors range from FAIR to Bernie Sanders supporters. According to Trammel Crow “It Isn’t Easy Being a Green Republican” as he explains in this Dallas Morning News article. It should be easy. In other words, being Republican doesn’t mean you aren’t green.
According to another Statesman article Earth Day Austin is reaching out to include the Hispanic community and is working on inclusiveness as well.
Earth Day is a day for everyone, no matter your political affiliation, race, education, income level or any other category. Austin businesses and organizations should be clamoring to be a presence at Earth Day Austin and I’m sure their contributions to the cause would be welcomed. And I hope to see all of you there.