Our VoiceImmigration

Anti-Immigrant Network Heaps Blame on Economic Growth

Nicole Loeffler-Gladstone • Sep 10, 2012

In case there was any doubt that Progressives for Immigration Reform (PFIR), Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) and other organizations in the John Tanton Network coordinate their anti-immigrant messaging, look no further than their recent campaign against “growth.”

As FAIR describes in a report published in May 2012, population growth and economic growth were formerly used as indicators of a healthy economy. FAIR’s new report claims those indicators are no longer useful: job growth encourages population growth which in turn lowers wages and quality of life across the board. FAIR goes on to claim that when cities or states compete for corporate job creation by offering tax breaks to large companies, these “pro-growth initiatives […] funnel tax money into development projects that benefit only a small minority of well-connected elites.”

On this one point FAIR is correct, but its good logic stops there. I never thought FAIR and I would agree on something; however, I would argue that funneling tax money into frivolous development projects is a product of capitalism. FAIR believes it is due to the number of immigrants moving into the United States. Just as urban sprawl and water pollution are “caused” by immigration, so too (apparently) is the desire of every state government representative to get re-elected.

PFIR recently wrote about a similar topic, referencing the same statistical information that FAIR quotes in their report. PFIR’s anti-growth argument, identical to FAIR’s, significantly lacks any proposed alternatives and instead encourages readers to consider how their quality of life is undermined by continued economic growth. Their argument is almost identical to one made by another Tanton Network mouthpiece, NumbersUSA.

The FAIR report offers some explanation to this seeming inconsistency by switching their argument from anti-economic growth to anti-population growth. FAIR writes that “economic development should improve the well-being of all citizens, and should not be a code word for growth policies that favor powerful special interests at the expense of the majority.” Again, I couldn’t agree more. But then, in a swift rhetorical shift, the report states that “most Americans oppose pro-growth initiatives, yet many feel powerless to prevent seemingly-inevitable overpopulation and urban sprawl.” Wait, what?

In the space of one paragraph FAIR moves from a populist framework to their usual immigrant-bashing. Of course, this is entirely intentional and fits with the desperate attempts of many anti-immigrant groups to disguise themselves as liberal organizations. Indeed, though PFIR’s full report prominently features immigration as a driving factor in “our” decreasing quality of life, the Executive Summary mentions immigration only once and in its very last bullet point.

These recent FAIR and PFIR reports also share messaging with Negative Population Growth, yet another Tanton organization. All of these organizations are fixated on immigration as the most debilitating force in the United States, singularly responsible for preventing the U.S. from being what it once was and could be again (i.e. a clear white majority, an undisputed global power etc.). FAIR, PFIR, NumbersUSA and NPG streamline their messaging to foment xenophobia and bigotry. Their platforms have nothing to do with providing solutions for America’s working poor. These anti-immigrant organizations use relatively harmless examples such as job competition to illustrate their version of the plight of American workers. However their intention is to promote immigrant scapegoating and class discord along racial lines in the hopes that those fighting for environmental and social justice will be weakened and divided.

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