The conservative movement is based in the idea of a limited government promoting free enterprise with a strong national defense embracing policies that will lead to the United States being the strongest economically with a very high standard of living.
Ronald Reagan called us the "shining city on the hill" and millions are drawn to come for better jobs, education and a better place to live for their children. That's why most conservatives embrace free markets and support a robust legal immigration and guest worker system. Conservatives believe in enforcement of the law, protecting our borders while giving legal immigrants a viable path to join our melting pot to become Americans.
It is critical to distinguish between groups opposing changes to laws on guest workers and groups opposing changes to laws on immigration. There are reasonable groups, like The Heritage Foundation, that engage in a good faith debate on specific policy based arguments against changes to immigration law. There are other groups, often those opposing guest workers, that are coming from a very dark and different place.
An odd coalition of conservatives, populists, anti-growth environmental organizations and even liberal population-control groups support changes to the legal immigration system that would shut down all travel to the United States. Some advocate ending all work visas, whether they are agricultural workers, seasonal migrant employees and high tech visas. Wherever they fall on the political spectrum, they can be defined as nativists.
These are not traditional allies of conservatives. Population control and radical environmentalism as policy has to be implemented by a big and powerful government. There are many voices on the right on immigration and some should be distinguished from the conservative movement, and they should be shunned.
The Los Angeles Times reported on July 25, 2013 that one of the funders of the extreme anti-immigration groups was motivated by a policy goal of rolling back legal immigration and a related support of the idea of population control within the United States. According to the LA Times, Cordelia Scaife May “had a few cherished passions” and “keeping immigrants out was (one).” According to the story, “May believed nature was under siege from runaway population growth. Before her death in 2005, she devoted much of her wealth to rolling back the tide — backing birth control and curbing immigration, both legal and illegal.” Her foundation, the Colcom Foundation, donated “more than $76 million over the last decade to groups that now are fighting to block immigration overhaul efforts in Congress.” That is a staggering amount of money and some were all too eager to work for this cause.
The Colcom Foundation provides about half of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) budget annually. According to the LA Times, Dan Stein, the president of FAIR, has voiced support for population control and measures to protect the environment from more people on the planet.
Another group supported by the Colcom Foundation is NumbersUSA. According to Betsy Woodruff of the Daily Beast, “the bulk of its funding doesn’t come from the right. Rather, the group is buoyed by a foundation that bankrolls environmentalist, population-control, and right-to-die efforts—causes most conservatives find repugnant.” Woodruff found that half of NumbersUSA money came from the Colcom Foundation.
Then come the more extreme groups. The same Colcom Foundation gave money to a group called “Negative Population Growth, Inc.” This group advocates the following:
Fertility of the educated and prosperous is lower than for the poor and ill educated, but even so it is below replacement level for American Indians, non-Hispanic Whites and Blacks. Hispanics are far above replacement level. That perhaps is associated with the recent arrival of many of them from high-fertility societies and with the very low work force participation rate of young Hispanic women.
Then you have the overt racist groups that have been in the news lately thanks to David Duke’s recent attempt to insert himself into the public debate.
Reagan was right. Immigration within the confines of a legal system is a foundation of freedom. The time has come for conservatives to distance themselves from the nativists that are threatening to hijack the immigration debate.
Perrin is the founder of the Council to Reduce Known Cyber Vulnerabilities.