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NBC News Takes on Anti-Immigrant Groups & Their Efforts to Block ‘Pathway to Citizenship’

April Callen • Apr 12, 2013

Yesterday, NBC News investigative reporters Michael Isikoff and Carl Sears published , “Anti-immigrant groups go on attack to block ‘pathway to citizenship,’” which takes a closer look at  John Tanton and the powerful network of anti-immigrant organizations and activists he has helped cultivate for decades.

Despite the level of influence that exists throughout that network, few mainstream news outputs have taken on or explored Tanton-affiliated groups like NumbersUSA or its leader, Roy Beck. The New York Times profiled John Tanton in a feature article in 2011, establishing him as a white nationalist and the man “behind powerful anti-immigrant organizations such as FAIR, Center for Immigration Studies, and NumbersUSA.” The NBC News piece gives insight to the organizational mindset of such groups and their tactical approach to not only blocking a current pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, but also their foundational racialized opposition to immigration.

The NBC News article notes:

A closely aligned network of anti-immigrant groups — founded with help from a controversial Michigan doctor who has argued that the country’s “European American majority” must be preserved — has spent over $100 million over the past decade to shape public policies aimed at restricting immigration […]

Isikoff and Sears add:

The groups — spearheaded by Numbers USA  and its combative president, Roy Beck —  have played a key role in blocking legislation that would open up a “pathway to citizenship” for  undocumented workers, according to lobbyists on both sides of the contentious issue. Now, as a bipartisan group of senators crafts a bill it hopes can pass Congress, the anti-immigrant groups are encouraging their backers to bombard Capitol Hill offices with phone calls and faxes opposing such a deal. Numbers USA also has  launched attack ads targeting  Senate  supporters of the measure such as South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican. “Who elected Graham to demand amnesty and welfare for millions of illegal aliens?” states the narrator in a Numbers USA ad now running in South Carolina as part of an estimated $200,000 ad buy.  A constituent responds:  “Amnesty? Not me.”

Once marketing themselves as a more centrist lobbying effort and in favor of immigration – just with greatly reduced numbers – Beck and NumbersUSA make it clear that they offer no support for anything Congress or the Gang of Eight are pushing for:

“Our goal is to stop this legislation,” said Beck, whose group is planning a series of ads aimed at pressuring senators who might be tempted to back immigration reform. “Every senator that is taking stands that are clearly against the interests of their citizens, their constituents are going to be reminded that there are elections.”

Beck and members of NumbersUSA used this tactic against legislators in 2007, effectively defeating George W. Bush’s efforts for immigration reform at that time. Unfortunately, the anti-immigrant organization has the resources to continue its fear-mongering tactics on both ends, by which they threaten politicians with the loss of voters and scare constituents with “otherizing” language:

Beck insists his group — with a $7 million budget and 1.3 million members — is growing “ by the day”  because of fears that the immigration measure will “flood this labor market with more foreign workers at the expense of our own Americans.” And he’s unabashed about what he wants to happen to the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country:  “What they’ve done is not a victimless crime. They have hurt vulnerable Americans by being here by taking jobs, by taking taxpayer services. And I would say (to them), ‘You need to get your affairs in order and go back home.’

Though historically John Tanton and his cohorts have framed the arguments against immigration around the issue of “overpopulation and its impact on environmental sustainability,” his personal writings and memos speak to very deliberate white nationalist efforts:

“Tanton, in memos and letters he donated to the University of Michigan library, expressed concerns at the time about the threat posed by  immigration to  the environment and the country’s population, sometimes casting the issue in racial and ethnic terms. “For European-American society and culture to persist, requires a European-American majority, and a clear one at that,” he wrote in one 1993 letter. ”

For the full article, visit here.

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