The website for Earth Day Texas, scheduled for April 22-24 this year, describes the event as “the largest annual environmental exhibition and programming initiative in the world.” It has also become an annual destination for the country’s leading anti-immigrant groups.
This year, three groups from the organized anti-immigrant movement are expected to have a presence at Earth Day Texas’ exhibition hall: Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), NumbersUSA, and Progressives for Immigration Reform (PFIR). All three organizations had a presence at last year’s Earth Day Texas. Some of the groups also had a presence at the event in 2014 and earlier iterations of the event when it was known as Earth Day Dallas.
This annual event was founded-and continues to be underwritten-by Dallas developer Trammell S. Crow. Crow also funds a similar Earth Day event in Austin, Texas.
Crow’s support for anti-immigrant policies is well-documented, and his involvement is likely the reason why anti-immigrant groups remain a regular presence at Earth Day Texas events. Crow invested hundreds of thousands of dollars to support the legal defense of an anti-immigrant housing ordinance in Farmers Branch, Texas. NumbersUSA also contributed a six-figure sum to the Farmers Branch Legal Defense Fund.
As Center for New Community highlights in our new report, IRLI Beginnings: The Immigration Reform Law Institute and the anti-immigrant origins of Texas v. United States, the ordinance drafted and defended in court by the organized anti-immigrant movement cost the city of Farmers Branch (population: 32,560) over seven million dollars.
Due to the continued presence of anti-immigrant groups at the event, some environmental groups are now withdrawing their support. Last week The Austin American-Statesman reported that the Austin Chapter of the Sierra Club pulled out of the Crow-funded Earth Day Festival in Austin. Sierra Club officials cited the continued presence of anti-immigrant groups at the event. In a letter to members, Austin Sierra Club Chairman Damien Brockmann wrote, “We cannot, in good conscience, support an event nor its main funder if it encourages anti-immigrant and racist sentiments.”
“We consider them hate groups,” said Reggie James, director of the Texas state chapter of the Sierra Club, later told the Statesman. “It’s Earth Day; it’s not This-Side-of-the-Border Day.”
To give context to James’ remarks, consider that in the last two months, NumbersUSA President and CEO Roy Beck derided immigrant communities as “enabling pools” for terrorists. And FAIR President Dan Stein described Central Americans as a biological threat to the U.S. population comparable to the devastation through disease that Native Americans experienced from colonists. “In the end, take a look at what happened to the Native Americans when they didn’t properly screen for contagious diseases back in 1620,” Stein said.
These statements are par for the course for groups like FAIR and NumbersUSA that have openly espoused bigotry and extremism for decades.
Environmentalists across the country should follow the Sierra Club’s lead and reject the population alarmism and bigotry of the organized anti-immigrant movement.