Our VoiceImmigration

CIS Head Defends Fringe Population Control Leader

Lauren Taylor • Mar 07, 2013

Philip Cafaro, president of the board of directors of PFIR

Last week, Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), went out on a limb to defend Phil Cafaro, Board President of the deceptively-named anti-immigrant organization, Progressives for Immigration Reform. “I’ve met Phil Cafaro and he strikes me as a regular liberal environmentalist — he’s a former park ranger with two kids — rather than the ‘humans-are-a-cancer’ type that’s lamentably common among the greens.”

Cafaro recently came under fire for claiming current immigration reform proposals would bring a flood of immigrants to the US, and along with them, increased global warming.

Krikorian’s defense proves an interesting juxtaposition next to Cafaro’s musings in the concluding paragraph of his recently published book, Life on the Brink: Environmentalists Confront Overpopulation:

“Perhaps humanity really is a cancer on the biosphere, unwilling or unable to control ourselves. We will likely prove or disprove this hypothesis this century; above all, perhaps, by whether we can consciously and conscientiously limit our own numbers.”

Cafaro’s most recent anthology features authors like Paul Watson who take this argument further. He says, “we have become like a deadly autoimmune disease to Earth.”

In addition to these more general misanthropic claims, the book specifically targets immigrants, featuring well-known anti-immigrant authors, such as Leon Kolankiewicz, Richard Lamm, and Don Weeden.

Not surprisingly, many sincere environmentalists want nothing to do with Cafaro. Even authors Cafaro cites in his book, like Ian Angus, condemn Cafaro’s position – and the organization he leads – as “racism in a fancy green wrapper.”

But Krikorian should know this – CIS has a longstanding relationship with Cafaro and the organization he leads. In fact, Cafaro was a fellow at CIS, contributing several reports and blogs to the organization. Since leaving, he has continued to work closely with CIS, which shared their research and demographic projections with PFIR, leading both to publish similar alarmist reports in response to current reform proposals.

Rather than a slip of the pen, or cursor in this case, this misrepresentation by Krikorian points to a common ideological project.  Both the Center for Immigration Studies and Progressives for Immigration Reform – the organizations that Krikorian and Cafaro lead, respectively – were founded in order to mainstream John Tanton’s singular obsession: population control through immigration restriction.

In a letter to the editor published in the Denver Post, Cafaro warned that immigration reform would soon double the population of the United States, and contribute greatly to environmental destruction and global warming. “Make no mistake: Immigrants are not coming to the United States to remain poor. Those hundreds of millions of new citizens will want to live as well and consume energy at the same rates as other Americans.” Not only does Cafaro blame immigrants for global warming, along with sprawl, mass extinction, and a host of other environmental troubles; he suggests that the poor should remain poor lest they contribute to climate change. In doing so, he lets the real climate culprits off the hook, and scapegoats migrants and the poor.

This green-washing of hate is nothing new for PFIR, or the Tanton Network. Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), the flagship organization of the Tanton Network, was founded by white nationalist John Tanton in 1979. In 1985, Tanton wrote to the new FAIR development director and board chair Linda Platt and described the original board members of FAIR: “Everybody on this list so far has come out of the population movement and saw how immigration relates to the population problem.”

Tanton knew that their project could not be successful if it were transparent. That same year, Tanton described FAIR’s decision to found the Center for Immigration Studies:

“After careful and prolonged study, the FAIR Board has concluded that a ‘Think Tank’ on the scale of Worldwatch Institute is needed. For credibility, this will need to be independent of FAIR, though the Center for immigration Studies, as we’re calling it, is starting off as a project of FAIR.”

The common project of CIS and PFIR – as Krikorian demonstrates through his defense of Cafaro – is to make its anti-immigrant, population control position seem mainstream. CIS provides the “facts,” framing and messaging for other pieces of the anti-immigrant network; PFIR attempts to lure progressive and environmentalist groups.



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