Pseudo-progressive group in decline, but continues advocating anti-immigrant agenda

Nicole Loeffler-Gladstone • Dec 20, 2012

Progressives for Immigration Reform (PFIR) has thrown up a glut of blogs over the last month, despite the organization’s lack of activity throughout the fall. The blogs include PFIR’s usual mangled messaging on immigration and the environment – that immigrants are to blame for all of our environmental woes, from water shortages to traffic congestion. A couple of the blogs are worth a second look, because they so perfectly illustrate the inconsistency between PFIR’s façade of liberalism and its structure of bigotry.

Donald Collins, a regular Social Contract Press and contributor and Advisory Board Member at Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), has recently written two blogs for the PFIR website. His writing is accepted as part of the radical right’s intelligentsia, yet he is repeatedly featured on the website of a “progressive” organization. Collins’s credentials help define PFIR’s tacit mission statement: remain firmly aligned with the anti-immigrant, xenophobic and decidedly conservative agenda of the John Tanton Network.

The PFIR blog also features a review of the film Critical Mass by Mike Freedman, which I wrote about back in July. The film provides fodder for the alarmingly simplistic populationist rationale: if there are less people on the planet, less environmental degradation will occur. Freedman’s film uses a mid-century experiment in rat population growth to try and prove causation between population increase and resource loss. This convenient view is embraced by the Tanton Network, because green-washing anti-immigrant sentiment makes xenophobia a palatable environmental concern. PFIR has led the way by quietly dialing back its explicit anti-immigrant attacks and has increased its focus on vaguer (but no less bigoted) populationism.

Philip Cafaro’s chummy endorsement and cross-posting of the film review should concern Freedman who, according to the review, “doesn’t pretend that [the] rats are a direct analog for humans” and claims that the film is not about population control. Cafaro’s endorsement of a film that uncritically recycles populationist scare-tactics is yet another example of PFIR’s real messaging.

There is absolutely no doubt that PFIR serves only as a mouthpiece for the Tanton Network. Indeed, FAIR, PFIR and other Tanton Network organizations have always coordinated their messaging so as to expand their following.

PFIR is not progressive; it features apologetically racist writers and clumsy, weak analysis. Though the organization is in decline, those of us who are concerned with environmentalism must continue to keep an eye on PFIR and counter its attempts to insert bigotry into the environmental movement.

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