July 19, 2019


Architect of Modern Nativism Dies, but His Ideas Hold Sway Under Trump (Noah Lanard, 7/19/19, MoJo)

When John Tanton, a Michigan ophthalmologist and environmentalist, launched the modern anti-immigration movement in 1979, he had a simple but radical goal: eliminate nearly all immigration to the United States. To do that, Tanton hoped to turn opposition to immigration into a high-minded cause embraced by people of all political persuasions. Charges of nativism, Tanton assumed, would sink his new endeavor.

On Tuesday, Tanton died at the age of 85. Despite his initial warnings about nativism, Tanton spent the last decades of his life issuing increasingly extreme warnings about immigrants of color and became a hero to white nationalists. It was fitting, then, that news of his death didn't spread until Wednesday evening, just as President Donald Trump was leading a reelection campaign rally on a platform of unabashed racism.

Under Trump, Tanton's once-fringe ideas have become the guiding philosophy of a White House obsessed with immigration. The Federation for American Immigration Reform, the group Tanton founded four decades ago, now has alumni in key posts across the federal immigration bureaucracy. And for the first time ever, all three immigration agencies are led by people who follow FAIR's playbook. Stephen Miller, the president's immigration guru, is a savvier and far more influential Tanton.

In a 1989 oral history, Tanton recalled that the two defining events of his childhood in Detroit were Pearl Harbor and the city's 1943 race riot. After leaving the city for a farm in the wake of the riot, Tanton grew up to be a conservationist. He took to population control activism with a convert's fervor after reading the Stanford biologist Paul Ehrlich's warnings about overpopulation.

Inspired by the ideas of the ecologist Garrett Hardin, Tanton came to see immigration as a neglected piece of the population puzzle. In his 1974 essay "Lifeboat Ethics: the Case Against Helping the Poor," Hardin proposed allowing people in the developing world to starve to death in the name of tough-love population control and criticized immigration because it "moves people to the food." 

Most Migrants at Border With Mexico Would Be Denied Asylum Protections Under New Trump Rule (Michael D. Shear and Zolan Kanno-Youngs, July 15, 2019, NY Times)

Long before a surge of migrants from Central America overwhelmed the southwestern border, the Trump administration was already waging a broad assault on the rules determining who can seek asylum in the United States.

But on Monday, the administration announced one of its most restrictive rules yet for a system, enshrined in international law, that Mr. Trump has called "ridiculous" and "insane."

In a move that would stop virtually all Central American families who are fleeing persecution and poverty from entering the United States, Trump administration officials said they would deny asylum to migrants who failed to apply for protections in at least one country they passed through on their way north.

The reason our Nativists insist that they only oppose illegal immigration is because they support eliminating legal immigration.

Posted by at July 19, 2019 12:04 PM