Our VoiceImmigration

Anti-Immigrant Group Loses President and Legitimacy


Rebecca Poswolsky • Jun 06, 2011

It’s official, environmentalist William Ryerson is no longer associated with Progressives for Immigration Reform (PFIR).  A spin-off of controversial anti-immigrant group Federation for American Immigration Reform, PFIR has struggled to be considered mainstream since its inception.  The group has attempted to use progressive frames around conservation to lure environmentalists into the anti-immigrant movement.  William Ryerson, who currently works with Post Carbon Institute, Population Media Center and Population Institute, was the long-time president of PFIR and helped legitimize it as a “progressive” group.

The John Tanton Network of anti-immigrant groups has a long history of trying to hoodwink the public, so it comes as no surprise that it spawned an organization of fake progressives. What is surprising is that this lame-duck group abruptly lost its real population expert and environmental backing.

Leah Durant, PFIR Executive Director and former Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) legal analyst, is now working with new President Philip Cafaro.  Cafaro’s deep connections to the anti-immigrant movement make it clear not only that PFIR wants to keep its leadership within anti-immigrant circles, but that real environmentalists are starting to break from groups like PFIR which are clearly not legitimate.

While PFIR declined to comment on Ryerson’s exit, stating only that the information on its website is accurate, this decision comes amidst other splits between Ryerson and anti-immigrant groups.  Earlier this year, Ryerson left the board of Californians for Population Stabilization (CAPS).

CAPS blames high immigration levels for ravaging California’s environment. CAPS, like FAIR, also accepted funding from the Pioneer Fund, a foundation that has a history of promoting the genetic superiority of white, European-Americans.

Because Ryerson has been seen by many environmentalists as the only legitimate voice for PFIR, his exit further discredits the anti-immigrant group.  The environmental movement is taking a stand against the anti-immigrant movement and Ryerson’s decision to leave his role as president of PFIR is another example of these efforts.

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