Anti-Immigrant Stalwarts Speak on Progressives For Immigration Reform’s Conference Call

Late last week Progressives for Immigration Reform (PFIR), an anti-immigrant group with ties to white nationalism, held its first quarterly conference call.

After suffering some major setbacks, the call represents a pretty weak attempt by PFIR to legitimize itself in the eyes of the environmental community. William Ryerson, for example, recently abandoned his post as president of PFIR. Ryerson was considered by many critics to be the only legitimate environmentalist within the organization.

His leaving in mind, little of note was said or discussed during the forty minute call, though it is important to note that some of the featured participants maintain strong ties to major anti-immigrant organizations and figureheads such as the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) and its infamous founder, self-professed white nationalist John Tanton.

The first guest on the call was Brad Botwin, founder of the anti-immigrant organization Help Save Maryland (HSM). HSM is listed on FAIR’s website as a state contact group.

Botwin has in the past spoken at FAIR sponsored events, as well as at gatherings sponsored by other anti-immigrant groups such as NumbersUSA. The Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI), the legal arm of FAIR, has also worked closely with HSM to file legal documents in opposition to the American Civil Liberties Union’s (ACLU) standing on various immigration policies in Maryland. IRLI is responsible for drafting some of the harshest anti-immigrant legislation in the country, including Arizona’s SB 1070 bill. IRLI also employs Kris Kobach, a man who has made a living writing and defending unconstitutional anti-immigrant ordinances that have cost many small towns, like Farmers Branch, TX, literally millions of dollars in legal fees.

Another on the call was a man by the name of Fred Elbel, who has a long history of activism within the anti-immigrant movement. Elbel, for his part, is a web designer who has developed websites for many anti-immigrant groups and activists, including the Social Contract Press (TSC), CAIR, and even John Tanton’s own personal website.

Elbel is also listed as a spokesperson for the Colorado Alliance for Immigration Reform (CAIR), another anti-immigrant group listed on FAIR’s website as a state contact group. Elbel has even spoken at the Social Contract Press’s Writers Workshop. TSC is the publishing house that John Tanton founded in 1990. TSC produces an anti-immigrant journal that has featured dozens of writers from across the white nationalist sphere. It also recently issued a statement calling for a ban on all Muslim immigration to the United States.

During PFIR’s conference call, Elbel stated that mainstream environmental organizations such as the Sierra Club had been “paid off” not to take a position on immigration.

Such statements by Elbel and others just provide further evidence to the fact that PFIR and their supporters comprise nothing more than a front group for the anti-immigrant movement en masse, a tactical method of bleeding-into debates and discussions that they’d love to steer towards their own bigoted agenda.

There is absolutely nothing “progressive” about the anti-immigrant movement or PFIR’s feeble attempts to tempt environmental organizations into assuming anti-immigrant stances. Many within the environmental movement have served PFIR some strong resistance, and long may such resistance continue.