Why GOP Sees a Conspiracy As Environmental Groups Join Fight Against Immigration

Groups opposing proposals to legalize undocumented immigrants receive grant money from environmentalist population-control groups. It’s not a secret. You can find the evidence right there on the foundation websites. The immigration groups don’t deny it either.

Republicans who are advocating for a comprehensive immigration overhaul see the environmental link to these groups as a smoking gun that undermines their conservative credentials, even though the groups themselves don’t adopt liberal or conservative labels. But because Numbers USA, the Federation for American Immigration Reform, and the Center for Immigration Studies all argue for reducing immigration into the United States, they tend to align with many Republicans on the issue.

These groups also receive money from foundations that are concerned about overpopulation. The Colcom Foundation funds all three groups; it also gives money to Negative Population Growth and the Conservation Fund. The Weeden Foundation funds the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association as well as the Environmental Paper Network; it also consistently funds CIS and has given grants to Numbers USA in the past.

The three groups that want reduced immigration are not, in fact, conservative. They are “single-issue” organizations whose members hold a variety of viewpoints on climate change, population growth, and abortion. “We are an immigration policy group. We see [immigration growth] as a precursor for rapid population growth, which most people think isn’t good for the country. We are being attacked by both sides,” said FAIR Media Director Ira Mehlman. “As individuals, we are interested in a lot of different things.”

“Republicans think I’m a liberal. Democrats all immediately think I’m a conservative Republican,” said Roy Beck, the executive director of Numbers USA. He laughs at the conspiracy theories being floated by Republicans who disagree with his perspective on immigration.

An example of the criticism being aimed at the trio by conservative immigration-reform advocates: “These groups are in no way conservative. They were founded, and are funded and staffed, by radical environmentalists and zero-population activists,” said Alfonso Aguilar, executive director of the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles.

Beck is flattered by the attention. “To think that I would be able to run an organization for 17 years with a secret purpose—a proabortion, white nationalist agenda. It’s amazing,” he quipped.

Steven Camarota, director of research at CIS, is a scholar on population numbers. He has consistently argued that low-skilled immigrants are a drain on the economy. Even without changes in the current immigration laws, he predicts that the country will add 100 million new residents over the next 50 to 60 years. “If they get this legislation, it might be more,” he said. “What you can’t argue is that it won’t have an effect.… You can say more population creates more business in the same way you can say it creates more congestion, sprawl. The question is, are there trade-offs? It’s a very important question.”

Camarota will be hard at work parsing legislative language once the Senate Judiciary Committee produces a draft immigration bill, trying to determine exactly how many new U.S. residents it would produce. In the past, those numbers have scared Republicans and Democrats from supporting similar legislation.

Beck points out that liberals also don’t like his group. America’s Voice, a liberal organization advocating for a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, routinely calls the trio of reduced-immigration groups “restrictionist” and “anti-immigrant.”

“That’s very helpful to us for fundraising,” Beck said. “Look how important people think we are!”