Our VoiceImmigration

Anti-immigrant Group Hosts Environmental Conference


Rebecca Poswolsky • Sep 16, 2010

Yet again the John Tanton Network is at the forefront of greening bigotry. On October 5, 2010, Progressives for Immigration Reform (PFIR) is sponsoring all day panel discussions and a conference called, “ The 1st National Conference on Immigration, Conservation and the Environment.”

This is likely just another way for the John Tanton Network to spread its anti-immigrant message using “green” frames.

Progressives for Immigration Reform (PFIR), which is a spinoff of Tanton’s group Federation For American Immigration Reform (FAIR), has invited an all star lineup of panelists to this conference, including a host of key anti-immigrant players.  The majority of panelists are directly associated with and hold leadership positions in  John Tanton Network organizations, which were all founded, supported or funded by white nationalist John Tanton.

So far panelists include Roy Beck, Philip Cafaro, Steven Camarota, Paul Ehrlich, Chris Martenson, William Ryerson and Don Weeden.  Roy Beck is the President of NumbersUSA, an organization founded by John Tanton. Beck is also a former editor for Tanton’s white nationalist journal The Social Contract.  Philip Cafaro is a writer for Tanton Network groups such as the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) and NumbersUSA,  and member of the Apply the Brakes Network, which according to its website is a network of conservation leaders that concerns itself with “domestic population growth.”  The Apply The Brakes network has a pronounced anti-immigration focus.   Steven Camarota is the director of research for the anti-immigrant group Center for Immigration Studies, also founded by Tanton.

Don Weeden is the executive director of The Weeden Foundation, is on the board of NumbersUSA, and is also a member of the Apply the Brakes Network.  The Weeden Foundation has also funded other anti-immigrant groups including NumbersUSA, CIS, and Californians for Population Stabilization (CAPS).

William Ryerson is the President of Progressives for Immigration Reform and an advisory board member for Californians for Population Stabilization (CAPS). CAPS has undeniable ties to white supremacy. Its media director, Rick Oltman, was identified in a Council of Conservative Citizens’ (CofCC) newsletter as a member. CofCC is a descendant of the old White Citizens Council. Oltman also shared a stage with Virginia Abernethy, a self-described white separatist, at a Council of Conservative Citizens conference. He was at the time the Western Regional Coordinator for FAIR.

According to the website for a group called the Institute for a Sustainable America, it is co-sponsoring the upcoming conference with PFIR. Little is known about the Institute for a Sustainable America, but according to a recent piece in the Nation called the “The Last Taboo Population,” William Ryerson stated that Leah Durant is the executive director of the Institute for a Sustainable America.  Leah Durant is also the executive director of Progressives For Immigration Reform - go figure! See the photo above for a snapshot of Durant posing with white nationalists Peter Gemma and Wayne Lutton.

At least six of the eight panelists listed so far are deeply connected to the funding and leadership of John Tanton’s anti-immigrant movement.  Yet this panel claims be about conservation and the environment.  Recent publications, including the report Greenwashing Nativism by the Southern Poverty Law Center and the film The Green War on Immigrants released by the Center for New Community, expose many of these individuals and their renewed attempts to inject bigotry into the environmental movement. The news of the supposed conference on “conservation and environment” is just another example of the anti-immigrant movement’s efforts on this front.

The environmental community is responding to this type of bigotry; some are even taking a pledge to reject this form of racism.  They recognize that taking a stand against anti-immigrant forces is the only way to inclusively address pressing environmental problems.

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