#YAWN: Tanton Network’s “Progressives” For Immigration Reform: Immigrants are Stealing American Jobs!!!

Guest Blogger • Sep 08, 2011

by Jesse Sanes

The anti-immigrant group Progressives for Immigration Reform (PFIR) sought to continue its blind, stumbling march down its not-so-progressive path this past week.

PFIR attempts to lure so called “progressives” into a fight for what the group considers just immigration policies. That in mind, it’s blatantly clear that PFIR has another motive all together, showing the group’s true colors by calling for an “immigration moratorium” in a recent release.

Obviously, there is nothing – absolutely nothing at all – “progressive” about calling for an end to all immigration.

Since it is a John Tanton Network spin-off group from Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), PFIR’s call for an immigration moratorium is as unsurprising as it is steadfastly anti-immigrant. While this is not a new tactic coming from the Tanton Network, this is the first time PFIR has been so transparently in-line with fellow anti-immigrant cohorts and their publications, like Tanton’s own white nationalist journal, The Social Contract, which recently called for a moratorium on Muslim immigration.

According to PR Newswire, PFIR proposed an immigration moratorium that “would exempt legitimate political refugees, but would apply to all other categories that bring in working-age immigrants.”  As PFIR claims to be primarily concerned with population/environmental issues, it seems rather odd that its proclamation is designed to be sold as the best response to US unemployment struggles/sluggish economic recovery—i.e., completely seal off all borders because the immigrants are taking American jobs.

Yea, that old chestnut.

Anyway, there is no mention of immigrant or refugees rights for other than to attack those seeking out political asylum.  If PFIR was legitimately concerned with the environment or with progressive messaging and tactics, why no mention of the recent Hurricane victims in Haiti, or of those suffering drought and/or famine in Somalia, all of whom are seeking medical attention in the US?

This thinking in mind, it wasn’t too long ago that FAIR also demanded a screeching halt to immigration, calling for a “time out.” FAIR, albeit vaguely, even cited environmental reasons for such a policy shift, as well:

“A time-out would ease the pressure on the environment and give us a chance to repair our institutions. Common sense dictates that we must stop adding new burdens to institutions and systems that are struggling.”

PFIR’s call for an immigration moratorium fully follows in behind FAIR’s, and is willfully blind to the importance of involving immigrants inclusively in the solutions necessary to addressing the current climate crises we face globally. Much of PFIR’s so-called progressive rejection of just immigration policies is really nothing more than echoing of John Tanton’s own long-held beliefs.

Tanton, FAIR, and the Network en masse have long sought in-roads into the mainstream environmental conservation movement. These avenues, for him and them, are paved by population concerns that they believe they can exploit, seizing upon such anxieties in order to inject their brand of anti-immigrant rhetoric more-or-less directly into those discourses. For instance, pondering the following quote provides us context for recognizing how – via Tanton’s legacy of values – those within the Tanton Network understand PFIR’s place within what is largely a right-wing conglomeration of folks:

“John Tanton founded the Federation for American Immigration Reform on Jan. 2, 1979, in Washington D.C. Roger Conner, an environmental lawyer, was appointed executive director, while Tanton served as the chairman of the board of directors. Before establishing FAIR, Tanton had experience working with groups concerned about how population growth affected the environment. Tanton served in several Sierra Club leadership posts, and he had been the president of Zero Population Growth, a group founded by biologist and longtime FAIR adviser Paul Ehrlich, from 1975 to 1977.”

If a call for a moratorium on immigration is supposed to lure progressives into the trappings of anti-immigrant messaging, PFIR certainly has its work cut out.

No doubt, those of us who are actually concerned with natural disasters, climate change, the root causes of environmental degradation can see right through PFIR’s attempt to legitimize bigotry—we can smell the stench of the anti-immigrant movement and its false solutions wherever it trails.

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