Our VoiceImmigrationNews & Politics

The Implied Bigotry of NumbersUSA

Jill Garvey • Mar 17, 2010
Beck at a CofCC event

Beck at a CofCC event

NumbersUSA operates at the nerve center of the most influential anti-immigrant network in the country.

This network, created by John Tanton, consists of over two dozen lobby, legal, legislative, and environmental groups that have penetrated mainstream social and political discourse. Of late, no group has been more successful than NumbersUSA, which is leading a vicious campaign against immigration reform advocates. NumbersUSA was founded in 1997 under the financial umbrella of Tanton’s U.S., Inc.

Unlike Tanton’s other groups, NumbersUSA strategically avoids overt white nationalist rhetoric in favor of emphasizing the alleged negative economic and environmental impacts of immigrants. Based in Arlington, VA, NumbersUSA presently consists of three legally distinct but financially intertwined organizations: NumbersUSA Education & Research Foundation, NumbersUSA Action, Inc., and Americans for Better Immigration.

Roy Beck is the executive director of NumbersUSA Education & Research Foundation, NumbersUSA Action, Inc., and chairman of Americans for Better Immigration. Looking at Form 990s from each group, Beck is listed as a paid employee at all three. Compensated a whopping $274,500 in 2007 alone, Beck’s paycheck is more than five times the net income of an average American. Not bad for a gig at a “grassroots” organization.

Last week Beck laid bare his plot, called “S.T.O.P. Amnesty” to defeat a powerful march for immigration reform. NumbersUSA’s troops of choice are tea partiers and hard-core anti-immigrant activists. Beck all but ordered fractured tea partiers to fall in line behind his anti-immigrant agenda on a conference call last week. As evidenced at the national tea party convention, beating up on immigrants appeals to many tea party members; however, one has to wonder if they would be so enthusiastic were they to know about Beck’s views on population control.

Just in case the tea partiers don’t stick to the anti-immigrant talking points, Roy Beck is using his environmental background and population growth “expertise” to push anti-immigrant sentiment among the conservation crowd.

Under a coalition called America’s Leadership Team for Long Range Population Immigration-Resource Planning, NumbersUSA is partnering with the American Immigration Control Foundation (AICF). AICF president John Vinson regularly writes for the white supremacist organization Council of Conservative Citizens. Vinson is also a founding member of the racist League of the South.

This year NumbersUSA released a report with Californians for Population Stabilization (CAPS). Rick Oltman, the media director of CAPS, was listed as a member by the Council of Conservative Citizens. Oltman also lost a Republican Party post in California after he supported physical attacks on undocumented immigrants.

While population growth is certainly a legitimate issue to address, just based on its ties to white nationalism as outlined above, NumbersUSA should be excluded from the discussion.

NumbersUSA supporters argue that the organization is merely a grassroots operation trying to protect American workers, but they conveniently ignore its ties to organized bigotry and murky financial structure. At the beginning of the week NumbersUSA’s campaign was heartily promoted by white nationalist David Duke. Nothing conveys “tolerance” quite like a pat on the back from a former Grand Wizard of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.

And what should be made of yesterday’s alert on NumbersUSA’s website that stated, “Organizers for the Amnesty March are providing transportation for marchers and have a website dedicated to helping marchers organize before Sunday. Immigration Equality is also providing transportation for the LGBT community, encouraging them to take part in the Amnesty March.”

It sounds as if NumbersUSA is pushing the buttons of some of its say, more extreme supporters, who may be into both gay and immigrant bashing.

Whether it’s in far-right conservative, working-class, or environmental communities, NumbersUSA, along with a host of related anti-immigrant groups, is trying to stir up trouble, not find solutions.

The answers to immigration issues will not be found through NumbersUSA’s brand of political extremism, but rather a vision that includes immigrants and native-born U.S. citizens working together to achieve a better life for all Americans.

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