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Anti-Immigrant Groups Blame Immigrants for BP Oil Spill


Rebecca Poswolsky • Jun 18, 2010

Amidst an environmental crisis in the Gulf of Mexico, anti-immigrant groups in the John Tanton Network see the BP oil spill as an opportunity to - wait for it - blame immigrants.

BP can’t contain the oil spill and the anti-immigrant movement can’t control its tendency to blame immigrants for every bad thing in America. On the ground, people are cleaning up oil, protesting BP, and fighting to protect their communities. Anti-immigrant leaders associated with The John Tanton Network posit a different response all together.

Phillip Cafaro, a writer for think-tank Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) and for Federation for American Immigration Reform (both founded by John Tanton), is suggesting that the BP oil spill is a result of immigrant populations. Cafaro’s blog article, written for CIS and titled “Oil Spills and Immigration Policy,” starts off by stating that it would be ridiculous to connect causality between immigration and the BP oil spill. Funny enough, Cafaro manages to do just that.

Addressing what he believes is the real cause of the oil spill, Cafaro really loses it:

“Population makes a difference – and immigration levels make a difference to our overall population….In the long-term, regarding efforts to create a sustainable society, these demographic trends loom a lot larger than whether or not BP or Halliburton made some greedy, foolish decisions to cut corners in the Gulf.”

So who is Philip Cafaro and why is he connecting immigration and the BP oil spill? Cafaro is associated with not one, but several of Tanton’s organizations, and he’s been pointing his finger at immigrants for a long time. As an advisory board member for Tanton front group “Progressives for Immigration Reform” (PIFR), Cafaro is well-versed when it comes to spinning a politically extreme agenda for typically progressive audiences. But it’s not just what he says as where he gets his anti-immigrant ammo. Cafaro links his blogs to the white nationalist Social Contract Press which is a journal published by none other than John Tanton. The journal is also edited by Wayne Lutton, a member of the white supremacist group Council of Conservative Citizens.

Furthermore, Cafaro has written multiple publications for Center for Immigration Studies and writes blogs for another of Tanton’s anti-immigrant groups, NumbersUSA. Pseudo think-tank Center for Immigration Studies, like Cafaro, has a history of immigrant bashing. Earlier this year, CIS’s executive director, Mark Krikorian, commented on the devastating Haitian earthquake by stating, “My guess is that Haiti’s so screwed up because it wasn’t colonized long enough.”

NumbersUSA, another anti-immigrant organization that features Cafaro, has ties to white nationalist organizations. In 1997, NumbersUSA’s founder and president, Roy Beck, spoke at the national conference of the Council of Conservative Citizens, a blatantly racist organization that was born out of the old white citizens’ councils of the 1950s. Cafaro keeps a blog on his website as well, where he describes his desire to drastically change U.S. immigration policy and links his articles to NumbersUSA and Center for Immigration Studies.

It’s clear where Cafaro’s true interests lie. And it’s not surprising that he is attempting to propose an anti-immigrant campaign as a result of the recent environmental degradation in the Gulf. What is surprising, on the other hand, is that Cafaro is allowed to teach courses on environmental ethics at Colorado State University. A class on immigrant bashing isn’t that ethical to me. As the oil spill continues, Cafaro, on behalf of Center for Immigration Studies and Federation for American Immigration Reform, blames immigrants and calls for population stabilization. His accusations are offensive to real environmentalists who are trying to hold BP responsible and engage communities to respond effectively to this disaster.

Cafaro should be exposed for what he really is - a racist, anti-immigrant professor masquerading as an environmentalist.

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