How environmentalists shaped Republican immigration policy

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On Monday, May 28, the Sierra Club turned 126 years old. Throughout its existence, the group's lobbying for environmental regulations has earned it a permanent place in progressive circles. But many may be surprised that the group was once a haven for immigration restrictionists.

The Club's restrictionist origins can be traced back to 1968 when it published a best-selling book titled The Population Bomb by biologist Paul R. Ehrlich. In it, Ehrlich argued that population growth was responsible for the earth's environmental decline, and advocated for immediate action in fighting against overpopulation. In the 1980s, the Sierra Club urged Congress to make population stabilization a chief US goal. A few years later the Club asserted that "Immigration to the U.S. should be no greater than that which will permit achievement of population stabilization in the U.S."

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One of the members who was influenced by Ehrlich's work was the Michigan eye doctor John Tanton. Tanton's concern about population growth's impact on the environment inspired him to serve as chairman of the Sierra Club's population stabilization committee from 1971 to 1975. In 1979, those same concerns propelled him to create the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), which would become one of the most influential US organizations advocating for less immigration.

Six years after creating FAIR, Tanton helped secure a grant that launched the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) a think tank that describes itself as "Low immigration, Pro-immigrant." He also helped his former editor, Roy Beck, raise funds to launch NumbersUSA, a grassroots nonprofit that's also devoted to immigration reduction.

Tanton's engagement with FAIR ended when he left the advisory board in 2002, and his involvement in CIS and NumbersUSA never extended beyond his startup assistance. But some people involved in the restrictionist network are motivated by the same environmental concerns that worried Tanton. Roy Beck, for example, is a disgruntled former environmental reporter who blames poor air and water quality and a lack of open spaces on overpopulation from immigration. The Colcom Foundation, the largest funder of immigration restriction groups is animated by the same set of concerns, with their mission being to "foster a sustainable environment…by addressing the major causes and consequences of overpopulation."

Several of these environmentalists are concerned enough about overpopulation that they have outright advocated for abortion to reduce the US population size.

Several of these environmentalists are concerned enough about overpopulation that they have outright advocated for abortion to reduce the US population size. CIS Fellow David North, for example, argues that "too many people means too much pollution and not enough green space." He believes that there should be a "low-growth population organization" that seeks to "curtail needless restrictions on abortion." This is similar to the mission of the Weeden Foundation, another funder of FAIR, CIS, and NumbersUSA. The Foundation says that "an increasing population causes greater impact on the environment and loss of biodiversity" and believes that the liberalizing of Latin American abortion laws are among the "interventions necessary to lower birthrates." Tanton himself started a local Planned Parenthood Chapter in Northern Michigan for the same reasons he started FAIR.

At first glance, it's difficult to see the environmentalists in a coalition with other restrictionists. The former is comprised of a largely secular, socially liberal elite. The latter is filled with economic and cultural populists. But what they hold in common is a shared belief in a zero-sum world and an ahistorically, pessimistic outlook for what voluntary human cooperation can accomplish.

Mark Krikorian, executive director of CIS, observed in the National Review that 14 years ago there were left/right alliances on both sides of the immigration debate, and the choice was between the patriotic coalition or the post-American coalition.

American conservatism is built on the precepts that individuals are valued as ends in themselves and that public problems are best answered by civil society.

But people are defined by their own principles, not those of their coalition partners. American conservatism is built on the precepts that individuals are valued as ends in themselves and that public problems are best answered by civil society. A conservative vision for the American immigration system is one that removes barriers that impede individual choice, opportunity, and the exercise of responsibility.

Immigration restrictionists of the left and the right may have different reasons for their positions, but both are similar in that they demand the sacrifice of individual liberty in favor of centrally planned objectives.

Sam Peak is a Young Voices Advocate and opinion journalist who writes about immigration policy. You can follow him on twitter @Tiger_Speak.

I think we can all agree, both on the Left and the Right, that children who have been caught up in illegal immigration is an awful situation. But apparently what no one can agree on is when it matters to them. This past weekend, it suddenly — and even a little magically — began to matter to the Left. Seemingly out of nowhere, they all collectively realized this was a problem and all rushed to blame the Trump administration.

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Here's Rachel Maddow yesterday:

I seem to remember getting mocked by the Left for showing emotion on TV, but I'll give her a pass here. This is an emotional situation. But this is what I can't give her a pass on: where the heck was this outrage and emotion back in 2014? Because the same situation going on today — that stuff Maddow and the rest of the Left have only just now woken up to — was going on back in July 2014! And it was arguably worse back then.

I practically begged and pleaded for people to wake up to what was going on. We had to shed light on how our immigration system was being manipulated by people breaking our laws, and they were using kids as pawns to get it done. But unlike the gusto the Left is using now to report this story, let's take a look at what Rachel Maddow thought was more important back in 2014.

On July 1, 2014, Maddow opened her show with a riveting monologue on how President Obama was hosting a World Cup viewing party. That's hard-hitting stuff right there.

On July 2, 2014, Maddow actually acknowledged kids were at the border, but she referenced Health and Human Services only briefly and completely rushed through what was actually happening to these kids. She made a vague statement about a "policy" stating where kids were being taken after their arrival. She also blamed Congress for not acting.

See any difference in reporting there from today? That "policy" she referenced has suddenly become Trump's "new" policy, and it isn't Congress's fault… it's all on the President.

She goes on throughout the week.

On July 7, 2014, her top story was something on the Koch brothers. Immigration was only briefly mentioned at the end of the show. This trend continued all the way through the week. I went to the border on July 19. Did she cover it? Nope. In fact, she didn't mention kids at the border for the rest of the month. NOT AT ALL.

Do you care about immigrant kids who have been caught in the middle of a broken immigration system or not?

Make up your minds. Is this an important issue or not? Do you care about immigrant kids who have been caught in the middle of a broken immigration system or not? Do you even care to fix it, or is this what it looks like — just another phony, addicted-to-outrage political stunt?

UPDATE: Here's how this discussion went on radio. Watch the video below.

Glenn gives Rachel Maddow the benefit of the doubt

Rachel Maddow broke down in tears live on her MSNBC show over border crisis.

Progressives think the Obamas are a gift to the world. But their gift is apparently more of the metaphorical kind. It doesn't extend to helpful, tangible things like saving taxpayers money. Illinois has approved $224 million to pay for street and transportation upgrades around the planned site of the Obama Presidential Center. The catch is that Illinois taxpayers will have to cover $200 million of that cost. For a presidential museum.

Eight years of multiplying the national debt wasn't enough for Barack Obama. Old fleecing habits die hard. What's another $200 million here and there, especially for something as important as an Obama tribute center?

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That's all well and good except Illinois can't even fund its pension system. The state has a $137 billion funding shortfall. That means every person in Illinois owes $11,000 for pensions, and there is no plan to fix the mess. Unless Illinois progressives have discovered a new kind of math, this doesn't really add up. You can't fund pensions, but you're going to figure out a way to milk the public for another $200 million to help cover the cost of a library?

It's hard to imagine who in their right mind would think this will be money well spent. Well, except for maybe Chicago Mayor and former Obama Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel who said, "The state's… investment in infrastructure improvements near the Obama Center on the South Side of Chicago is money well spent."

Some presidential overreach lasts longer than others.

The spending has already been signed into law, even though the Obama library has not received construction approval yet. Part of the holdup is that the proposed site is on public land in historic Jackson Park. That doesn't seem very progressive of the Obamas, but, you know, for certain presidents, you go above and beyond. It's just what you do. Some presidential overreach lasts longer than others.

Here's the thing about taxing the peasants so the king can build a fancy monument to himself – it's wrong. And completely unnecessary. The Obamas have the richest friends on the planet who could fund this project in their sleep. If the world simply must have a tricked-out Obama museum, then let private citizens take out their wallets voluntarily.

As the Mercury Museum proved this weekend, it is possible to build an exhibit with amazing artifacts that attracts a ton of visitors – and it cost taxpayers approximately zero dollars.

'The fool builds walls': China blasts Trump over tariffs

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I can picture it now: Thousands of years ago, Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of China, standing before hordes of his followers, in the Qin Dynasty, with a bright red bamboo hat on, and chanting, "Build that wall!"

It took a couple centuries to build the thing, but it got built. And it has been carefully maintained over the last 2,000 years, but, today, the Great Wall of China is so massive that astronauts can see it during good weather conditions from the lower part of low Earth orbit. The wall boasts over 3,000 miles of towers and brick embankments, with over 1,200 miles of natural defensive barriers. It's worth mentioning that the Chinese government is also exceptionally good at imposing digital walls, so much so that China ranks worst in the world for internet freedom.

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So it's a little strange to hear an editorial run by a major news network in China criticized President Trump for his proposal to build a large wall along the southern border of America.

"Following the path of expanding and opening up is China's best response to the trade dispute between China and the United States, and is also the responsibility that major countries should have to the world," the author wrote. "The wise man builds bridges, the fool builds walls."

Similarly, the Pope told reporters in 2016, "A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian. This is not the gospel."

Don't throw stones at people who want to build walls when you live in place surrounded by walls.

If you've been to the Vatican, you know that it is surrounded by enormous walls. The same goes for all the celebrities who live in heavily walled compounds—a safety measure—but who have also vehemently criticized President Trump's plans to build a wall.

You know the adage: "People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones at other people's glass houses." Perhaps the phrase needs an update: Don't throw stones at people who want to build walls when you live in place surrounded by walls.

An immaculate Nazi doctor hovers over newborn. He probes and sneers at it. "Take it away," he says. This is the very real process that Nazi doctors undertook during the era of Nazi Germany: Nazi eugenics, the studious, sterile search to find children who would define a pure breed for the German lineage. The Übermensch.

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During a speech to a delegation of Italy's Family Association in Rome on Saturday, Pope Francis referred to this cruel Nazi practice, which he used as a comparison to the increasingly popular process throughout Europe of "ending" birth defects, by offering abortions to women who have babies with chromosomal defects.

Here are two passages from the Pope's remarks:

I have heard that it's fashionable, or at least usual, that when in the first months of pregnancy they do studies to see if the child is healthy or has something, the first offer is: let's send it away.

And:

I say this with pain. In the last century the whole world was scandalized about what the Nazis did to purify the race. Today we do the same, but now with white gloves.

When CNN got the quote, and it shocked them so much that they had to verify the quote with the Vatican—in other words, it didn't fit the usual narrative.

It didn't fit the usual narrative.

The Pope also addressed claims that he has dedicated himself to LGBTQ causes:

Today, it is hard to say this, we speak of "diversified" families: different types of families. It is true that the word "family" is an analogical word, because we speak of the "family" of stars, family" of trees, "family" of animals ... it is an analogical word. But the human family in the image of God, man and woman, is the only one. It is the only one. A man and woman can be non-believers: but if they love each other and unite in marriage, they are in the image of God even if they don't believe.

The media have largely seen Pope Francis as the cool Pope, as the Obama of Catholicism. It'll be interesting to see how abruptly and severely that perspective changes.