Our VoiceImmigration

Conservation Foundations Funding Anti-Immigrant Groups?

Rebecca Poswolsky • Jul 18, 2011

Environmental funders should not participate in the funding of the anti-immigrant movement.  The Weeden Foundation for instance funds both the anti-immigrant movement and environmental groups.  This overlap is alarming.

Don Weeden is the executive director of the Weeden Foundation and sits on the board of NumbersUSA.  NumbersUSA is connected to a constellation of anti-immigrant groups started by one man, white nationalist John Tanton.   Tanton is at the heart of the most influential anti-immigrant network in this country. He is the founder of FAIR (Federation for American Immigration Reform), which has been designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.  To found FAIR in the late 1970s, John Tanton solicited and received over $1.2 million from the Pioneer Fund, a pro-Eugenics group.

Alan Weeden (Don’s father), who is on the board of directors of the Weeden Foundation, is also on the board of directors of FAIR.  FAIR has taken credit for co-drafting Arizona’s anti-immigrant Senate Bill 1070.  John Weeden - another Weeden family and board member - is also connected to anti-immigrant groups.  He sits on the board of advisors of anti-immigrant group Californians for Population Stabilization, (CAPS).  CAPS is listed as a state contact on FAIR’s website, where it is misleadingly described as “an environmental activist organization that views immigration control as a key element of population stabilization.”

In addition to this shared leadership, the Weeden Foundation had funded other anti-immigrant groups including NumbersUSA, the Center for Immigration Studies and CAPS.

The debate on population has become a major tactic to bring environmentally-minded folks into an anti-immigrant fold.  This year, the Weeden Foundation funded Growthbusters, a documentary film focused on overpopulation that is set to be released in 2011. GrowthBusters’ website links to a host of anti-immigrant groups for information about overpopulation.

Arguments that place blame on immigrants for growth, for trash on the border, overcrowded highways, traffic, urban sprawl, smog, the B.P. oil spill and even the potential lack of water, are being used by organizations like NumbersUSA, FAIR, CAPS, and Center for Immigration Studies to ignite fear.

Their arguments assert that the only way to maintain “our” quality of life is to restrict immigration to this country.  These are false solutions to climate change.  Such arguments that link false notions of carrying capacity and anti-immigrant population statistics are exclusionary and intended only to further a hostile climate of hate.

Concentrating on the connection between environmental degradation and population, over-consumption, conservation, the need to recycle, or access to clean water must include women of color and immigrants.

While the anti-immigrant movement is trying to control and limit discussions reducible to the “numbers game,” those most affected are being left out of the dialogue all together.  The Weeden Foundation must make a choice between continuing to fund and deepen an exclusionary environmental movement or stand on the side of the movement that adequately wants to address real solutions to the future environmental disasters we face.

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