Our VoiceImmigration

Anti-immigrant Leader Admits Using Climate Change for Political Gain

Guest Blogger • Feb 23, 2010

by Rebecca Poswolsky and Dave M.

cis_global_warmingThe anti-immigrant movement has long capitalized on environmental concerns to attack America’s immigrant communities. This tactic was on full display at the Conservative Political Action Conference this past weekend in Washington D.C.

While most people were listening to Newt Gingrich speak on Saturday, about 75 people assembled in one of the smaller rooms to hear a discussion entitled “Immigration: The Defining Issue for the Republican Party,” sponsored by American Council for Immigration Reform. The panel’s four speakers included: Robert E. Rector, Senior Research Fellow, The Heritage Foundation; Mark Krikorian, Executive Director, Center for Immigration Studies (CIS); James G. Gimpel, Professor of Government, University of Maryland; and Rep. Steve King from Iowa. Each speaker had 20 minutes to speak, followed by a question and answer session. The audience boasted a whole host of anti-immigrant individuals including Chad McDonald from NumbersUSA; Wayne Lutton, editor of The Social Contract; Howard Wooldridge, younger brother of anti-immigrant activist Frosty Wooldridge; and James Russell of Catholics for a Moral Immigration Policy.

A number of alarming comments were made by the panelists throughout the session. Rep. Steve King stated that he “sympathized” with the man who crashed his plane into the IRS building in Texas this past weekend. When asked later in the Q&A session about his comments, King did not take them back and instead launched into a rant against the IRS for targeting him in his pre-political days.

Mark Krikorian, a man known for his outlandish comments, stated that immigrants are “19th century rural peasant workers” who are coming to 21st century America.

The discussion’s most alarming comment came during the Q&A session when a young man asked Mark Krikorian why CIS published articles that supported the theory of global warming on its website. The man also asked Krikorian to explain his and CIS’s connections to John Tanton whom he referred to as a man that “favors population control.”

Krikorian nonchalantly answered the first question by stating that CIS publishes articles that are in favor of global warming to force a wedge between different people on the Left. Krikorian argued that people on the Left cannot be in favor of both open borders and taking care of the environment.

Assertions such as Krikorian’s - that non-draconian border policy is a prominent cause of eco-ruin - have little stock with serious environmental thinkers, which of course does not prevent Center for Immigration Studies from producing slanted reports on the topic. What is surprising is Krikorian’s candor about his organization’s true goal - to strategically deploy pseudo-environmental rhetoric to split its opposition.

His comments at the Conservative Political Action Conference also suggest that Krikorian’s veneer of environmental concern is so thin, that common work with global warming deniers and anti-environmentalists is not beneath him. Maybe this is unsurprising for someone whose career involves promoting white nationalist ideas while adamantly claiming that he is not a racist - a phenomenon we’ve also seen with Roy Beck of NumbersUSA, who co-authored a 2003 report for CIS. Both NumbersUSA and Center for Immigration Studies were established by John Tanton as front groups for his anti-immigrant network.

Aiding in Krikorian’s enviro-wedging strategy are characters such as Phillip Cafaro, of the misnamed “Progressives for Immigration Reform” (PFIR, which is also part the Tanton Network.) Cafaro and PFIR exist as an element of the “wedging” strategy explained by Krikorian at last week’s conservative gathering.  Phil Cafaro also participates in the Weeden Foundation-funded “Apply the Brakes” project, which gives an anti-immigrant spin to concerns about human population levels. Cafaro’s level of commitment to “progressive” causes was recently demonstrated by his linking, on January 12 of this year, from the PFIR blog that he maintains to the white nationalist Social Contract Press website.

Coincidentally, Social Contract’s editor, Wayne Lutton, was at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington D.C. this past Friday to cheer on his anti-immigrant associates. In addition to releasing racist publications, Lutton is also active with the overtly racist magazine American Renaissance and the flagship publication of the Council of Conservative Citizens. The Council of Conservative Citizens is the reconstituted, segregationist White Citizens’ Councils.

It is clear that Krikorian and the rest of the Tanton Network don’t care one bit about the environment. They only use climate change concerns to widen an anti-immigrant platform.

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