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October 17, 2012

Progressives for Immigration Reform Conference Attracts Major Anti-Immigrant Figures

Despite claims by Progressives for Immigration Reform (PFIR) to be a “progressive” and “environmental” organization, the appearance of several anti-immigrant activists at PFIR’s third annual conference in Washington, DC, earlier this month, further confirms that the group is firmly entrenched in the anti-immigrant movement.

Photos of the conference on the group Facebook page show Roy Beck, head of the Virginia-based anti-immigrant group NumbersUSA, in the audience. Beck is the former Washington editor of The Social Contract (TSC), an anti-immigrant journal published by racist John Tanton. During the years Beck was working as the Washington editor of TSC, the journal published the writings of known white supremacists such as Sam Francis and Jared Taylor. Beck also spoke at the 1997 national conference of the Council of Conservative Citizens, a white supremacist organization.

Another picture taken at the PFIR conference shows John Rohe, vice-president of philanthropy and secretary at the Colcom Foundation, in attendance. Rohe is reportedly a close friend of Tanton, and worked with him at Tanton’s U.S., Inc. organization in Michigan for a number of years.  Rohe even authored Tanton’s biography. The Colcom foundation is the premier funder of the anti-immigrant movement in the United States, and has donated millions of dollars a year to anti-immigrant groups such as PFIR, U.S., Inc., NumbersUSA and many others.

A third key anti-immigrant figure identified at the PFIR conference is Marilyn Brant Chandler DeYoung, the chair of the Santa Barbara-based anti-immigrant group Californians for Population Stabilization (CAPS). CAPS reportedly received money from the Pioneer Fund, a foundation that promotes the study of eugenics, in 2002. DeYoung is behind a push this year to get more recognition for CAPS. The group aired ads during the Democratic and Republican conventions and launched a number of new projects in 2012.

PFIR’s claim to legitimacy in the environmental movement continues to unravel. Its website states, “Indeed, it is hard to think of a single environmental problem that is not made significantly worse by population growth, or that could not be more effectively met if we could stabilize or reduce our population.” As this quote indicates, the group’s real agenda is to cite immigration as the major source of environmental problems in the United States.

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September 28, 2012

Numbers USA donates $100,000 to help defend anti-immigrant ordinance in Famers Branch, Texas

The anti-immigrant group, NumbersUSA, recently donated $100,000 to the Farmers Branch legal defense fund in an effort to help an anti-immigrant ordinance in the Texas town pass its latest round of legal challenges.

If upheld, the ordinance would ban all undocumented immigrants from renting properties in the town.  Banning undocumented immigrants from renting properties is a small part of the “attrition through enforcement” platform created by the anti-immigrant movement. The platform’s goal is to make life so difficult for immigrants that they will “self deport” back to their country of origin.

According to financial records, NumbersUSA donated $10,000 to the Farmers Branch Legal Defense Fund in 2009, so this most recent contribution of $100,000 is a ten-fold increase. Last week the full Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments on the case. If the Fifth Circuit upholds the law, a key piece of the anti-immigrant movement’s “attrition through enforcement” policy would be given the green light and similar ordinances may spring up in towns across the country.

Another anti-immigrant group, the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI), is also heavily involved in the Farmers Branch case. IRLI drafted the ordinance and is also defending the case in court. The IRLI lawyer in the case is Kris Kobach, the Secretary of State of Kansas and author of some of the harshest anti-immigrant legislation passed in the country, including Arizona’s SB 1070 and Alabama’s HB 56.

Kobach and NumbersUSA have worked together previously. Just last month, Kobach filed a lawsuit on behalf of ten disgruntled Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents against ICE and the Department of Homeland Security, stating that the directives both organizations received from the Obama administration’s new Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy violates federal law.  The policy allows some eligible children of undocumented workers who were not born in the U.S. to apply for temporary work authorizations, and calls for ICE agents to refrain from detaining them. After the case was filed, NumbersUSA announced that it will be funding the lawsuit.

IRLI and NumbersUSA’s connections run even deeper than just collaborating on court cases. IRLI is the legal arm of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), founded by racist John Tanton in 1979. It was under Tanton’s leadership that IRLI formed a few years later. Tanton also worked closely with NumbersUSA founder, Roy Beck for many years. Beck served as the Washington editor for Tanton’s anti-immigrant journal, The Social Contract, for a decade and internal memos from Tanton indicate that he thought of Beck as his “heir apparent.”

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August 17, 2012

Progressives for Immigration Reform Announces Conference and New Project

The president of Progressives for Immigration Reform, Phil Cafaro

The anti-immigrant group Progressives for Immigration Reform (PFIR) has announced its third annual conference in Washington, D.C. scheduled for October 2012. In addition, the group is promoting their new project–a statement on the environmental impact of U.S. immigration policy.

PFIR was founded in 2009 claiming to “educate the public about the unintended consequences of mass migration.” In reality, PFIR is made up of a host of anti-immigrant figures, many of whom approach the issue of immigration from an environmental standpoint. PFIR’s use of the term “progressives” is an attempt to attract environmentalists and to coax them to view immigration as the cause of environmental problems.

Though the group has not yet announced the speakers at this year’s event, speakers in the past have included a host of figures from anti-immigrant groups , including Roy Beck from NumbersUSA and Steven Camarota from the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS). Also in attendance last year was Mike Hethmon from the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI), the legal arm of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR).

The aim of PFIR’s new project is to determine the number of immigrants Congress should allow into the United States. For years, anti-immigrant groups have argued that not only should all undocumented immigration be prevented but that Congress should also dramatically decrease the number of legal immigrants entering the country each year. Extreme anti-immigrant groups such as FAIR have gone as far as to call for a temporary moratorium on all immigration to the United States.

The two principal investigators of PFIR’s new project are PFIR president Phil Cafaro and advisory board member Leon Kolankiewicz. Both have ties to other anti-immigrant groups.

Kolankiewicz has written reports for CIS primarily addressing the alleged environmental impact of immigration. He also co-authored a report with Beck, which blamed immigrants for America’s environmental problems. Kolankiewicz is a senior writing fellow for the California-based anti-immigrant group Californians for Population Stabilization (CAPS).  In addition, he has written over a half dozen articles for The Social Contract, an anti-immigrant journal published by racist John Tanton.

Cafaro was formerly a fellow at CIS and wrote a number of reports for the organization that attempted to blame immigrants for environmental degradation.

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