Anti-immigrant organization creates another “environmental” front group

The anti-immigrant movement has added yet another pseudo-environmental front group to its ranks. John Tanton-tied organization Progressives for Immigration Reform (PFIR) recently took credit for “successfully starting the Institute for a Sustainable America.”

Progressives for Immigration Reform is part of white nationalist John Tanton’s network of anti-immigrant groups. Tanton’s array of organizations, from lobbyists to grassroots mobilizers, work closely through spin-off groups like Progressives for Immigration Reform to reach out to left-leaning audiences. This is nothing new for the Network’s web of over two dozen organizations – meticulously nurtured for the last three decades by the same small circle of men.

PFIR, for the first time this week, is admitting that it created this new group.  Previously, there had been a lack of clarity about the connections between Institute for a Sustainable America (ISA) and PFIR.  PFIR does not mention the ISA anywhere on its website and vice versa.  However, the connection was indisputable.  For example, the “Contact Us” information for both PFIR and ISA are exactly the same.  If they are one in the same, what is it they are hiding?

While the Institute for a Sustainable America, (ISA) claims it is an all volunteer organization, the President of PFIR, William Ryerson, begs to differ. 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.

Ryerson responded to a recent piece in the Nation called the “The Last Taboo Population,” and stated that Leah Durant was the executive director of the Institute for a Sustainable America.   Funny enough, Leah Durant is also the executive director of Progressives For Immigration Reform – go figure! Durant has also been snapped posing with white nationalists Peter Gemma and Wayne Lutton.

According to the website for ISA, it co-sponsored “The 1st National Conference on Immigration, Conservation and the Environment” with PFIR. At least six of the eight panelists listed for the private conference have connections to the funding and leadership of John Tanton’s anti-immigrant groups.

According to ISA, “The primary objective of ISA is to engender a discussion between leaders from multiple disciplines on the meaning of smart growth, and how the enactment of sustainable environment, immigration, and population policies can aid in solving the economic, environmental, and population crises we now experience.”

Its agenda is less about sustainability, but rather connecting immigration debates to environmental issues.    This is just another ploy to create confusion for environmentalists and make it appear that the environmental movement has an interest in combining debates on immigration and population.

Ironically this comes at the same time that environmentalists are responding to these types of groups; some are even taking a pledge and a stand against anti-immigrant forces trying to green hate.  While many push for inclusive dialogue to address pressing environmental problems, we are still faced with spin-off groups like PFIR that have publicly distanced themselves from the Tanton Network without ever doing so in private.