The myth that human beings are “overpopulating” the earth, which has persisted for centuries, is rooted in a fundamental misunderstanding of human activity, economics, and natural science. Numerous political elites have promulgated the overpopulation myth in pursuit of various big-government policies both in their home countries and around the world. People like Thomas Malthus, Paul Ehrlich, and Margaret Sanger have sought various “remedies” for this false crisis, “solutions” which devalue human life—abortion, sterilization, and euthanasia—and promote government control of economic activity.
Often the radical nature of these proposed “solutions” has led advocates of such policies to couch their ideas in terms of helping the world’s poor and concern for the environment. But a lesser-known story is that over the last 40 years in the United States, many leaders of this movement have hijacked concerns over immigration to advance their agenda. Population-control advocates have built, operated, and funded much of the anti-immigration movement in the United States. What follows helps explain how this has happened and sheds light on the pervasive connections between the population- control movement and the principal proponents of immigration restrictions.
Thomas Malthus (1766-1834), the godfather of population control, summarized his pessimistic view of population growth as follows: “The power of population is indefinitely greater than the power in the earth to produce subsistence for man.”1 In response he considered the checks on population: Disasters such as disease, war, and famine raised the death rate, while birth rates could be lowered through abstinence. To Malthus, checks on human population were the only way to raise the standard of living for those remaining. However, industrialization and rapid economic growth during the nineteenth century proved his pessimism wrong by allowing an increasing population to support itself.
In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries the eugenics movement gained traction as a controversial way to solve numerous social ills.2 British polymath Sir Francis Galton created both the term “eugenics” and the modern field in the late nineteenth century.3 In the United States, many social reformers and prominent progressives a few decades later were attracted to eugenics to solve the seemingly intractable problems of poverty and other social ills.4 The American Eugenics Society, founded in 1922, promoted anti-miscegenation laws, birth control for undesirable women, and abortion.5 However, the popularity of eugenics plummeted in the1930s and 1940s, due to its association with the Nazi regime in Germany, which had promoted it. In 1977 the American Eugenics Society rechristened itself the Society for the Study of Social Biology; later still it became The Society for Biodemography and Social Biology.6
Margaret Sanger was a prominent American eugenicist, member of the American Eugenics Society, and Fellow in England’s eugenics group.7 A founder of the organization known today as Planned Parenthood, she viewed population control as a way to prevent the births of people she deemed “unfit,” most notably those with disabilities. Sanger helped organize the first World Population Conference in 1954 and openly advocated for state-sanctioned coercion in pursuit of her aims.8 A Planned Parenthood official quoted Sanger as saying, “The undeniably feeble-minded should, indeed, not only be discouraged but prevented from propagating their kind.”9 Sanger openly discussed the intersection of her methods of population control and eugenics: “The campaign for birth control is not merely of eugenic value, but is practically identical with the final aims of eugenics.”10
Sanger’s writings contradict themselves and it is often difficult to determine whether she was being extreme to make a point. For instance, one of her most famous observations was that “the most merciful thing that the large family does to one of its infant members is to kill it.”11 She suggested that, given the high death rates for older poor children, perhaps killing younger ones and sparing them a sickly childhood in which they would eventually die of malnourishment would be preferable. But several chapters earlier in the same book she had written, “it is apparent that nothing short of contraceptives can put an end to the horrors of abortion and infanticide.”12 While Sanger’s motivations in the context of this specific book may appear to be unclear, what is clear is that her life’s work is nearly synonymous with abortion advocacy.
Later in the 20th century, the population-control movement found a new flag bearer in Paul Ehrlich, whose opposition to population growth was fueled by concerns about the environment. Harking back to Malthus, Ehrlich’s 1968 book, The Population Bomb, predicted huge famines and dire environmental disasters due to population growth. Ehrlich called for “compulsory birth regulation . . . (through) the addition of temporary sterilants to water supplies or staple food. Doses of the antidote would be carefully rationed by the government to produce the desired family size.”13 One of the founders of Zero Population Growth (ZPG) in the U.S., he is currently a key supporter of the British group Population Matters, an organization that continues to examine population and the environment and includes “family planning” as a key part of its mission.
ZPG’s co-founder was Garrett Hardin, whose 1968 essay “The Tragedy of the Commons” purported to make the case that population control was necessary to protect the natural environment. (The goal of ZPG is a numerically stable human population.) Hardin was a member of the American Eugenics Society and, in addition to his views on population control,14 also helped revive a pro-abortion argument contingent upon the rights of women. In a 1992 Omni magazine interview, Hardin asserted that “A fetus is of so little value, there’s no point worrying about it,” and that abortion was “effective population control.” He also openly supported incentives for sterilization to reduce human populations domestically and abroad, and described China’s one-child policy as “not strict enough.”15
Ehrlich has been proven spectacularly wrong, but that has not diminished his zeal for controlling the world’s population. In 1980, economist Julian Simon, whose work, The Ultimate Resource, showed that human well-being and environmental quality have improved as the world’s population has grown, challenged Ehrlich to a famous bet over the latter’s claim that resources were becoming scarcer. Simon and Ehrlich agreed to wager on whether the price of five metals—chromium, copper, nickel, tin, and tungsten—would rise or fall, in real terms, after a decade. The prices of all five metals fell and Simon won the bet.
Both Sanger and Ehrlich paid some attention to the role of immigration in population growth. Sanger included many immigrants in her categorization of those “unfit” to procreate, and favored a government office to “Keep the doors of immigration closed to the entrance of certain aliens whose condition is known to be detrimental to the stamina of the race.”16 Similarly, until 2003, Paul Ehrlich served on the board of advisors of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, one of the organizations examined below.17
Hijacking the Immigration Issue
There is much disagreement among social conservatives on the issue of immigration—which is natural. Many are alarmed about the flouting of American laws and the other negative aspects of illegal immigration. The modern American population-control movement is dominated by the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), and NumbersUSA. These population-control groups have wisely sought to appeal to American conservatives in pursuit of one of their stated policy goals: To limit all immigration into the United States.18 They have been so successful that many columnists and editorials refer to them as some derivative of “quintessentially American.”19 In reality, however, they reflect a very dark side of American history.
The opinions of the abortion and population-control movements are dominant among the founders, funders, and board members of FAIR, CIS, and NumbersUSA. They represent the direct modern continuation of the 1960s and 1970s population-control movement—in many cases the same people involved in that movement decades ago sit on the boards of these three organizations.
Of course, not everyone concerned about immigration advocates population control, abortion, or sterilization. However, the evidence shows that the primary leaders and funders of the anti-immigration movement were drawn to it because they were also active organizers and supporters of, and contributors to, the population-control movement in the United States. This should give pause to pro-life advocates who might consider collaborating with groups such as FAIR, CIS, and NumbersUSA on the issue of immigration.
Once one scratches the surface, the whitewashing, rebranding, and slight refocusing of the most radical side of the green movement—advocates of population control, abortion, and family planning—is striking, and stands diametrically opposed to the pro-life cause.
John Tanton: Founder and Chief Intellectual
“If we cut pollution per capita in half, but double the number of people, we’re back where we started.”—John Tanton20
Tanton is the father of the population-control wing of the modern anti-immigration movement. Born in 1934, Tanton, who grew up on a farm, became an avid environmentalist at a young age. From early on he believed that population growth was the great enemy of environmental conservation. He was “drawn to Planned Parenthood by an imbalance between human numbers and available resources.”21 His wife, Mary Lou Tanton, was drawn to population control through her interest in poverty. 22
An ophthalmologist and eye surgeon, Tanton served as a board member of the Washtenaw County League of Planned Parenthood from 1961 to 1964.23 He then co-founded and organized Northern Michigan’s first Planned Parenthood clinic in 1965, serving as its president from 1975 to 1978 and as the legislative chairman and head of public affairs for the Planned Parenthood Council of Michigan.24 In 1968 he co-founded Michigan Women for Medical Control of Abortion and served as its president until 1972.25 He was the national chairman of the Sierra Club population committee from 1971 to 1974, a national board member of Zero Population Growth from 1973 to 1978, president of that group from 1975 to 1977, and chairman of its immigration study committee from 1973 to 1975.
During his chairmanship of the immigration study committee for ZPG, Tanton authored an essay titled “Human Migration,” which won a Mitchell Prize and was published as the cover article in The Ecologist.26 It was during that time that he concluded that controlling population growth required not only abortion, family planning, and other efforts to decrease fertility, but also ending all immigration. He argued:
The ‘core’ population, i.e., those here [in the United States] in 1970—now has sub-replacement fertility, which dictates reaching a peak population in several decades, and then a slow retrenchment back to present-day levels. It is immigration that is making us grow—and that must be cut to levels where immigration = emigration, if we’re to avoid continuous population growth—even to one billion.27
Influenced by his work with ZPG, and by Paul Ehrlich’s 1970 bestseller The Population Bomb (which both Tantons put on their list of the 25 most influential books28), John Tanton focused on curtailing the source of continued population growth in the United States: immigration. To that end, in 1979 he organized FAIR, chairing its board until 198729 and remaining a board member until 2011, when the New York Times published an expose of his extensive population-control, environmentalist, and anti-immigration efforts.30 He resigned from FAIR’s board of directors little more than a week later. (ZPG co-founder Garrett Hardin, who committed suicide in 2003, also served on FAIR’s board for several years.)
Tanton founded U.S. Inc. in 1981 as an “umbrella foundation” that funnels money from large donors to smaller startup non-profits that further anti-immigration, environmental, and other pro-abortion causes. Tanton has also served as U.S. Inc.’s chairman and vice-chairman since its founding.31 He used his positions at FAIR and U.S. Inc. to create and fund CIS in 1985.32 Beginning in 1996, U.S. Inc. began subsidizing Roy Beck and Jim Robb to create NumbersUSA.33
Here is a timeline of Tanton’s population-control and anti-immigration activities:
• 1961-1964: Board Member, Washtenaw County League for Planned Parenthood
• 1965-1971: Co-founder, Organizer and President, Northern Michigan Planned Parenthood
• 1968-1972: Co-Founder and President, Michigan Women for Medical Control of Abortion
• 1968-1972: Board Member, Michigan Council for Study of Abortion
• 1975-1978: President, Northern Michigan Planned Parenthood
• 1969-1971: Organizer and Chairman, Mackinac Chapter Sierra Club Population Committee
• 1970-1972: Organizer and Chairman, Sierra Club, Petoskey Regional Group
• 1970-1973: Member, Sierra Club National Long-Range Planning Committee
• 1970-1974: Organizer, League of Conservation Voters, 11th Congressional District
• 1971-1974: Chair, National Sierra Club Population Committee.
• 1973-1975: Chairman, Zero Population Growth Immigration Study Committee
• 1973-1978: National Board Member, Zero Population Growth
• 1975-1977: President, Zero Population Growth (1975-1977)
• 1975-1978: President, Northern Michigan Planned Parenthood
• 1976-1979: Sexuality Education Consultant and Curriculum Development Advisor, Petoskey High and Middle Schools
• 1976-1979: Legislative Chairman and Public Affairs, Michigan Planned Parenthood Council
• 1979-1987: Organizer and Chairman, Federation for American Immigration Reform
•1979-present: Board Member, Federation for American Immigration Reform
• 1980-1990: Board Member, Population/Environmental Balance (formerly Environmental Fund).
• 1982-present: Founder and Chairman, U.S. Inc.
• 1996: Founder, NumbersUSA.
U.S. Inc.: The Funding Source
“We look at philanthropy as buying into ideas—which unlike material goods, have very low carrying costs.”—John Tanton34
Tanton believed that the human population must be limited to protect the natural environment. As he explained in a 1991 letter, U.S. Inc. “see[s] the number of people as the multiplier in many environmental problems where the formula is: Impact/Person x Number of People = Total Effect. Our goal is to keep the multiplier down, rather than working on the multiplicand.”35 The multiplier in Tanton’s equation is the number of people.
Tanton explained the organization of U.S. Inc. in a May 2000 memo: “Each constituent project has its own board and runs its own affairs within the overall supervision of the U.S. board. Projects receive contributions and disburse funds in their own name.”36 In that manner, Tanton has been able to pursue projects concerning “conservation of natural resources, population, immigration” and others.37
U.S. Inc. has funneled millions of dollars to advocate population control, pro-abortion policies, sterilization, and environmental goals. Between 1996 and 2004, it gave $22,020 to Petrovsky, Michigan, public schools that in part funded their sex-education programs.38 In 1997, it donated $12,000 to FAIR, $15,000 to NARAL, and spent $471,480 on a documentary intended to show the dangers of population growth.39 In 1998, U.S. Inc. gave $11,187 to FAIR and spent $744,813 on another documentary about the threat of population growth.40
U.S. Inc. has also given small donations to less well-known population- control organizations such as Floridians for a Sustainable Population and the Treferig Cottage Farm Press. But from Planned Parenthood of Northern Michigan to NARAL to FAIR, there is a clear pro-population-control agenda behind the allocation of U.S. Inc.’s money.
U.S. Inc. transferred $115,930 to FAIR between 1994 and 2008 and just a few thousand dollars to CIS41 in the same period.42 Under Tanton’s control, U.S. Inc. also transferred $2,939,867 to NumbersUSA between 1999 and 2002 and personally paid its head and titular founder Roy Beck $751,546 as an outside consultant between 1996 and 2001until NumbersUSA became financially self sufficient.43 U.S. Inc. also founded the group ProEnglish, which recently gave the American Unity Award to Rep. Steve King (R-IA).44 U.S. Inc. paid Kenneth McAlpin a total of $1,223,724 between 2000 and 2008 to be the executive director of ProEnglish.45 He was U.S. Inc.’s most highly paid employee between those years. On July 1, 2010, ProEnglish announced that McAlpin would become the president and executive director of U.S. Inc., ProEnglish’s “parent organization.”46
In 1985 Tanton created CIS to “build the intellectual basis for immigration law reform”47 and supply policy ammunition to FAIR. Tanton used his board membership on FAIR and his control of U.S. Inc. to gather the resources to create CIS. Writing donor Cordelia Scaife about CIS, Tanton said that “[f]or credibility, this [CIS] will need to be independent of FAIR, though the Center for Immigration Studies, as we’re calling it, is starting off as a project of FAIR.”48 CIS and FAIR legally separated in 1986, but as late as 2007, U.S. Inc. paid $89,475 to the law firm Olive Edwards Brinkmann LLC,49 whose principal, James R. Edwards Jr., wrote numerous papers published by CIS.50 He joined CIS as a fellow in 2009.51
Three of the five directors of U.S. Inc.—chairman John Tanton, vice-chair Mary Lou Tanton, and director David Irish—are openly committed to population control through abortion, family planning, and curtailing immigration.
Mary Lou Tanton joined the Ann Arbor Planned Parenthood board in 1961,52 served on the board of the Michigan Council for the Study of Abortion, and was a founding member of Michigan Women for Medical Control of Abortion (MWMCA).53 MWMCA spearheaded an initiative petition drive to liberalize Michigan’s abortion laws in the early 1970s; it failed, becoming irrelevant with the Roe v. Wade decision.54 Dave and Ann Irish were co-founders of the Planned Parenthood location in Petoskey, Michigan, for which they received an award.55 Former director John Rohe, who served on the board until 2006, wrote a biography of the Tantons in 2002.56
The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR)
“Only by stabilizing and cooperatively reducing the number of people in the world over time will the poor of the world have a chance to achieve their aspirations.” —Charles T. Roth57
“Certainly we would encourage people in other countries to have small families. Otherwise they’ll all be coming here, because there’s no room at the Vatican.” —Dan Stein, President of FAIR58
FAIR is the most prominent and successful of U.S. Inc.’s creations. With some notable exceptions, FAIR’s board of directors, national advisory board, and staff include many population-control, pro-abortion, and forced-sterilization advocates. Their statements and membership in other pro-abortion population-control groups reveal their true ideological allegiances.
FAIR’s website openly touts environmentalist and population-control rhetoric. Reading like Paul Ehrlich’s apocalyptic The Population Bomb, it mournfully announces the addition of 103 million Americans since 1970.59 FAIR’s worldview presents a stark choice:
The U.S. has already exceeded its sustainable population level; we must now take firm and responsible measures to minimize further environmental degradation. Would anyone seriously argue that Americans should consider a “one-child” policy rather than bringing immigration to a sustainable level?60
FAIR presents a false choice. With website headlines like “The United States Is Already Over-Populated,” “More is Not Necessarily Better,” and “Environmentalists Support Immigration Reform,” the true goal of FAIR’s commitment to reducing immigration is revealed for its true intentions: reducing the American population.61
FAIR’s companion website Fairdebate.org is even more extreme. The subheading for Fairdebate.org is, “Immigration and Overpopulation: Big Issues, Big Debate, Join In.”62 A poll on the side of the homepage asks, “Has overpopulation contributed to habitat destruction in the U.S.?” taking for granted that the nation is already overpopulated.63 The banner headline reads: “More People: Higher Carbon Footprint” and an advertisement below warns “US Population Growth Will Make 2050 Emission Cuts Hard.”64 FAIR believes that the human population must be decreased to accomplish environmental goals.
That extreme population-control rhetoric is unsurprising, because FAIR’s executive director is population-control advocate Dan Stein.65 He routinely appears on radio and television shows arguing that immigration should be stopped because it increases the total population of the United States. Stein described China’s one-child policy as an “international family planning program.”66 He is married to Sharon McCloe Stein, the former executive director of Negative Population Growth (NPG), a group devoted to “a smaller and truly sustainable United States population accomplished through smaller families and lower, more traditional immigration levels.”67 NPG emphasizes a “two-child family” for Americans,68 to decrease the population to the 150-200 million range.69
Planned Parenthood has many representatives on both FAIR’s main board and advisory board. The organization’s genesis lay in Margaret Sanger’s campaign for birth control in the early part of the 20th century. Her work and that of others eventually led to a national organization known since 1942 as Planned Parenthood Federation of America.70 From those beginnings it went on to fund research for the birth-control pill and eventually to provide abortions. Planned Parenthood is currently the largest abortion provider in the United States and the most public face of the pro-abortion movement.71
Sarah G. Epstein is FAIR’s board secretary and also a longtime board member of Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington (PPMW).72 She was a major sponsor of PPMW’s 2009 Champions of Choice Luncheon.73 FAIR advisory-board member Donald A. Collins, Epstein’s husband, served on the national board of Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA).74 In 1988, the New York Times published a letter to the editor by Epstein concerning refugees from China’s one-child policy:
I think the Chinese have developed one of the most humane and rational population policies in the world . . . We can learn for our own future. Allowing any pregnant Chinese couple to gain asylum here onassertion of fear of forced abortion at home . . . makes a mockery of our asylum law. . . . Let us work out a rational population policy for our own country and respect policies of other countries that are dealing humanely with the critical need to slow population growth (emphasis added).75
Janet Harte served on FAIR’s board until her death in 1999. Besides giving generously to FAIR in her will,76 she founded Planned Parenthood of South Texas.77 J. Bayard Boyle, who serves on FAIR’s advisory board, is also a board member of Memphis Planned Parenthood.78 Recently deceased Dorothy R. Blair, one of FAIR’s national-advisory-board members, was the treasurer for Planned Parenthood in San Diego.79
Pathfinder International is a major provider of abortions worldwide.80 Founded by Clarence and Sarah Gamble in 1957, 81 early on Pathfinder made an arrangement with Planned Parenthood whereby it would provide abortions, sterilizations, and contraception overseas, while Planned Parenthood would provide these services in the United States.82 Pathfinder was a significant conduit for USAID funding for abortions and contraception in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and elsewhere for many years.83
Sarah G. Epstein, FAIR’s board secretary, is an emeritus director and board member of Pathfinder International in the U.S.84 She inherited the position from her parents: Clarence and Sarah Gamble. She is also a board member of the Scaife Family Foundation (SFF), which is engaged with Pathfinder in conducting trials of the quinacrine sterilization procedure.85 When speaking of quinacrine research, Epstein evokes religious tones: “I feel like a missionary. Quinacrine is something that can help women help themselves.”86 But a Vietnamese woman who was involuntarily subjected to quinacrine sterilization without her permission asked, “Did they consider us lab rats so that they could do whatever they wanted with our bodies?”87
The International Services Assistance Fund (ISAF), founded by FAIR advisory-board member Donald A. Collins, promotes female sterilization though the quinacrine pellet.88 Collins refers to this method as “permanent female contraception” instead of sterilization.89 ISAF is currently documenting quinacrine use and results in numerous foreign countries as it awaits FDA resumption of the Phase 3 trial.90
Quinacrine testing took place mostly in the developing world.91 Drs. Elton Kessel and Stephen Mumford were the foremost doctors advancing this population-control scheme. According to one report, the result of the quinacrine campaign is a “mass-sterilization program affecting thousands of women, but involving limited health-related follow-up. . . . In addition, some women seeking routine gynecological care have been sterilized without their knowledge or even against their will.”92 Quinacrine sterilization involves the insertion of chemical pellets that produce scar tissue in the fallopian tubes, sterilizing the woman permanently. As was revealed in 1999, “Financial support for Mumford and Kessel’s work has come largely from anti-immigration groups such as FAIR as well as the conservative Scaife Family Foundation.”93 SFF is a major funder of FAIR and Tanton’s other groups and programs.
FAIR advisory-board member Robert W. Gillespie began his long career in population-control movements with the Pathfinder Fund. There he advised the government of Taiwan on formulating the first national family-planning program in the world to introduce intrauterine devices (IUDs) and oral contraceptives.94 He also set up an IUD manufacturing plant in Hong Kong while working for Pathfinder.95 With Pathfinder, he traveled to Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines to report on family-planning and population policies.96
Gillespie also founded Population Communication in 1977. While there he authored the Statement on Population Stabilization that was presented at the 50th United Nations anniversary, with the signatures of 75 heads of governments. Gillespie designed 181 different family-planning and population- policy instruction and evaluation manuals that have been used in ten countries.97
Outside of Pathfinder, he produced and starred in a documentary called No Vacancy, about how people in the developing world have begun to limit their family sizes.98 The film won the Environmental Sustainability Award at the EarthVision 2005 International Film & Video Festival in Santa Cruz, California, and was initially screened at the Population Council in New York.99 J. Bayard Boyle, another FAIR advisory board member, is emeritus director of Pathfinder International.100
Alan Guttmacher Institute
FAIR advisory-board member Donald A. Collins was a founding board member of what is now called the Guttmacher Institute. Started in 1968 under a different name, the Institute in its early years was a research arm of Planned Parenthood.101 Its name was changed to honor Alan F. Guttmacher, the doctor who had served as Planned Parenthood’s president from 1962 to 1973. Guttmacher, vice president of the American Eugenics Society from 1956-1963 and a board member of the eugenics group from 1964-1966, had pushed hard for the legalization of abortion in the U.S. and for population control at home and abroad.102 Now independent of Planned Parenthood, the Guttmacher Institute is one of the largest and most influential advocates of population control. The “right to choose safe, legal abortion” is one of its core principles.103
The International Projects Assistance Service
The International Projects Assistance Service (Ipas) seeks “to expand the availability, quality and sustainability of abortion and related reproductive health services, as well as to improve the enabling environment.”104 Ipas works mainly in other nations, most famously in those where abortion is prohibited,105 and produces pamphlets on guidance and use of various abortion methods.106 Ipas is also the manufacturer of the Manual Vacuum Aspiration Kit (MVA), a mobile abortion device.107
FAIR advisory-board member Donald A. Collins is a founding board member of Ipas.108 Another FAIR advisory-board member, Robert W. Gillespie, helped Ipas market its MVAs in other countries.109 Gillespie stated in an interview in 2004: “Now, where I saved most lives is with the MVA. Those fourteen thousand MVA kits out there [are doing good]. I’ve helped Ipas market their kits.”110 Gillespie also added incentives for women to avoid pregnancy and offered abortions at his clinics.111 He has referred to incentivizing abortions and family planning as “social marketing.”112
Gillespie recalled his time spreading population control techniques and devices in Iran:
And then, if I could get the age of marriage up to twenty for girls and twenty-three for boys and then get birth spacing—birth spacing was my principal interval. I gave birth intervals as high as between—well, between marriage and birth by two or three years and then from birth to second birth by three to four years. And particularly if I could get it up to six years, then I knew that the third child was almost an improbable event for all kinds of reasons.113
The Population Institute (PI) describes its mission thus:
To provide essential leadership to promote voluntary family planning and reproductive health services and increase awareness of the social, economic, and environmental consequences of rapid population growth. PI works actively to educate policymakers, policy administrators, the media and the general public about population issues. PI also recruits and trains tomorrow’s population activists, and national membership networks to address population issues. Our programs advance population education and activism. The Institute promotes both international and U.S. support for voluntary family planning programs.114
Sarah G. Epstein’s name comes up again as a former board member. PI’s Public Policy Advisory Committee also includes Senators Barbara Boxer, John Kerry, and Olympia Snowe, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, and media mogul Ted Turner.115 The International Advisory Committee includes the most well-known population-control advocate of the last 50 years, Paul Ehrlich.116
In October 2009, PI co-hosted a public forum on the subject of “Population Growth and Rising Consumption: What’s Sustainable?” Their answer was that a smaller population consuming fewer resources was better for the environment, so those are desirable goals.117 The late Joan Freedheim Kraus Collins was vice chairwoman and longtime board member of PI.118 When the public headquarters of PI in Washington, DC, were named for Mrs. Collins,119 Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi was there to personally congratulate her.120
Family Health International
Family Health International (FHI) began in 1971 and was originally called the International Fertility Research Program (IFRP). Begun with funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), its goal was to use science and research to introduce contraceptive, sterilization, and abortion technology in the developing world. IFRP grew so rapidly that by 1978 it was operating in 47 countries. It expanded into all aspects of family planning and was renamed Family Health International in 1982.121 Today, it is USAID’s oldest and most highly funded population-control NGO. FAIR advisory board member Donald A. Collins is on the board advisory committee for FHI.
Californians for Population Stabilization
Californians for Population Stabilization (CAPS) is a neo-Malthusian organization that blends population control,122,123 environmentalism,124 and opposition to immigration. The goal of CAPS is to stabilize the population of California and the rest of the United States125 through decreasing family size. It supports restricting child-tax credits to the first two children, family- planning services, and “expanding clinics and programs that provide sex education, birth control, and abortion services.”126
The CAPS board boasts membership by Eddie Tabash, who has been active in the family-planning and abortion movements in California for over 20 years.127 He has made over 1,000 public presentations on that topic.128 CAPS board members spread the notion that civilization can prosper with a declining population, something that is countered time and again.129
Former Governor of Colorado Richard Lamm is the most notorious member of CAPS’ advisory board.130 He is also on FAIR’s national board of advisors.131 He is most famous for stating that elderly people who are terminally ill “have a duty to die. . . . Like leaves which fall off a tree forming the humus in which other plants can grow, we’ve got a duty to die and get out of the way with all of our machines and artificial hearts, so that our kids can build a reasonable life.”132
As a freshman Colorado legislator in 1967, Lamm sponsored the nation’s first liberalized abortion law, legalizing it in cases of rape, incest, fetal deformity, and physical and mental health.133 Robert W. Gillespie also serves on the advisory board of FAIR and CAPS with Lamm.134, 135
Floridians for a Sustainable Population
FAIR national-advisory-board member Joyce Tarnow136 runs Floridians for a Sustainable Population (FSP), which describes itself as:
A non-profit, statewide organization of concerned environmentalists. We believe that unrestrained population growth is the chief factor in the development sprawl that is eating up our wetlands, our forests and our necessary agricultural acreage.137
Tarnow started running FSP after she retired from owning and running an abortion clinic in southern Florida, from 1976 to 2004. That clinic provided 800-900 abortions a year, totaling about 25,000 over that 28-year period.138
The Weeden Foundation
The Weeden Foundation (WF) is run by President Alan Weeden, who is on the board of FAIR.139 WF’s mission is to “save biodiversity on the planet”140 through funding environmental, population-control, abortion, and anti-immigration advocacy.141 Weeden sees “continued high levels of immigration . . . carrying a very high environmental cost that cannot be sustained.”142 WF’s website says that people are the problem and population control is the solution:
Population growth, particularly in the United States, and over-consumption have also evolved into major program interests in order to more fully address the factors driving biological impoverishment. Organizations supported to date range from those that protect ecosystems and wildlife to those that work towards population stabilization and sustainable consumption.143
[P]opulation growth is equally problematic within the U.S. which is growing faster than any other industrialized nation and which could reach 500 million people (if current trends continue) by the year 2050. The Foundation’s primary domestic population objective is for the U.S. to respond directly to the directives of the President’s Council on Sustainable Development by adopting a national policy dealing effectively and equitably with all sources of U.S. population growth, including immigration, and leading towards population stabilization in the near future. Cultivating support among environmental and population organizations for such a policy is among our top grant-making priorities. The Foundation has funded projects to: advocate for increased federal funding of family planning clinics (Title X); conduct sprawl studies that break out population growth as an important driver of sprawl; and, promote immigration reduction on the basis of environmental concerns.144
To further advance that goal, in 2009 WF gave $20,000 each to ISAF, Ipas, and the Population Media Center (PMC).145 The last was to insert reproductive and environmental propaganda into popular Brazilian soap operas.146 WF also funded the Alliance for a Sustainable USA, Catholics for Free Choice, National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association, PMC, Ipas, and CAPS.147 Some other environmental groups funded by WF are the World Wildlife Fund, National Wildlife Federation, Rainforest Alliance, and Conservatree.148 WF and Alan Weeden have also given significantly to FAIR: a total of $49,000 from 2002-2008, as well as $40,000 to the Immigration Reform Law Institute, the legal arm of FAIR.
The Alliance for a Sustainable USA
The Alliance for a Sustainable USA, formerly Diversity Alliance for a Sustainable America (AS-USA), “works to preserve a socially, environmentally, economically and politically sustainable America by addressing this nation’s population growth for all U.S.-born citizens and legal immigrants.”149 It seeks to achieve those goals through promoting replacement-level fertility and a moratorium on all immigration.150 AS-USA received $45,000 from WF between 2005 and 2007.151
FAIR advisory board member Yeh Ling-Ling is the Executive Director of AS-USA.152 Ling focuses the group’s attention on the environmental impact of immigration while avoiding nativist critiques. Other FAIR advisory-board members involved with AS-USA are Frank Morris and Peter Nunez. They are, respectively, Chairman and Vice-Chair of AS-USA. Morris was the Executive Director of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation.153 He and Nunez are also on the board of CIS.154
Pro-Abortion Groups and Political Action Committees
Many FAIR board and advisory-board members either serve on or contribute to abortion-supporting political action committees (PACs). The majority of political donations made by the vice president of FAIR’s board, Henry M. Buhl, are to Republican PACs and politicians, but he also gave $2000 to the Women’s Campaign Fund (WCF) in 2000.155 WCF seeks to protect and expand abortion access in the United States.
Former FAIR advisory-board member Janet Harte, founder of Planned Parenthood of South Texas,156 was the chairwoman of the Texas Pro-Choice PAC.157 Robert Zaitlin of FAIR’s advisory board contributed to NARAL and Pro-Choice America PAC.158 Recently deceased FAIR advisory-board member Dorothy R. Blair was a contributor to Republicans for Choice PAC and Voters for Choice/Friends of Family Planning.159 She was also an avid environmentalist and early board member of the Conservancy of Southwest Florida.160 In 1999 she donated $1 million to build the Blair Audubon Center, a two-story environmental-education center at Corkscrew.161
The Center for Immigration Studies (CIS)
Since 1985, when Tanton, using his position at FAIR and U.S. Inc., created CIS, it has attempted to become the scholarly face of the immigration restrictionist establishment.162 CIS is supposed to “[b]uild the intellectual basis for immigration law reform”163 by supplying information to FAIR and other anti-immigration activists. The same environmentalist, abortion, and population-control ideology permeates CIS, its funders, and founders.
Mark Krikorian, the current executive director of CIS, used to work for FAIR. When asked about the ties among CIS, population-control groups, and John Tanton, he stated:
The center [CIS] has no views on population control, no views on China’s one child policy, or anything else. The guy you mentioned, John Tanton, he’s an eye doctor or retired doctor, he helped arrange our first grant, he’s a population guy, Malthusian in a lot of ways, has never been on our board, doesn’t know where our offices are, never told or had any hand in the opinions, development, or views of the research of the center in any way. I met him a couple times and he seems like an affable enough guy, but what do I know, and what do I care.164
Tanton’s own writings to donors and others contradict Krikorian’s statement. As noted earlier, Tanton told Cordelia Scaife in a letter that “For credibility this will need to be independent of FAIR, though the Center for Immigration Studies, as we’re calling it, is starting off as a project of FAIR.”165 CIS’s supposed independence from FAIR was a façade. Tanton was intimately involved with its founding and guided its positions from the start. As late as 1994, Tanton’s front group U.S. Inc continued to funnel money to CIS.166 Tanton arranged a lot more than a first grant for CIS—he created it, funded it, and provided its ideology.
CIS produces many research papers and other writings about population control. Much of their material focuses on how population growth is contributing to environmental decay; they go so far as criticizing mainstream environmental organizations for not doing enough about population growth.167 CIS calls population “stabilization” (a code word for population control) a fundamental aspect of the 1970s American environmentalist movement and laments its relative decline in importance.168 Following its founding mandate, CIS is openly terrified of increases in national population and supportive of trends that show a potential decline in population.169
CIS claims that, as immigrants move to wealthier nations like the United States, they become a significant source of increased carbon-dioxide emissions that (CIS asserts) will lead to widespread man-made global warming.170 When the Kyoto Treaty was first being negotiated in the 1990s, CIS drew a direct link between population growth through immigration and greenhouse-gas emissions, blaming the former for the latter.171 As CIS admits:
Other factors beside population size determine total U.S. output of greenhouse gases. New technologies and conservation efforts, for example, can reduce per-person emissions. . . . The simple fact is high immigration will make any effort to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases more costly for the average American.172
CIS consistently condemns urban sprawl as a consequence of unchecked population growth through immigration and reproduction.173 To CIS, seemingly every supposed problem in the world can be solved by decreasing the size of the human population.
“Immigration and the fertility of immigrants is the only long-term cause of the population growth in this country. . . . Most people could understand that if you add three million people a year to your country, that’s going to have a lot of inter-environmental impact. And of that three million, about two and a half million of that three million can be accounted for from new immigrants, legal and illegal, and from the births of immigrants. That’s two and a half million a year.”—Roy Beck, President of NumbersUSA174
NumbersUSA was founded in 1997 with the generous financial backing of U.S. Inc. and has been run by executive director Roy Beck ever since.175 Between 1994 and 2001, U.S. Inc. paid Roy Beck a total of $751,546 to get NumbersUSA off the ground and produce “independent” anti-immigrant research.176 In 1996 and 1998, U.S. Inc. also paid NumberUSA’s Vice President of Operations Jim Robb a total of $147,041.177
NumbersUSA is open about its mission to reverse American population growth. Its name is meant to conjure fears of too great a number of people in the United States. Its emblem is a ghostly image of blue silhouettes multiplying into the distance.178 Its website includes a population counter, and Beck incessantly warns about the dangers of population growth.
In 2010, on the anniversary of the 40th Earth Day,179 Beck said that, “Congress [does] not understand that U.S. environmental sustainability is not possible unless we greatly reduce immigration numbers.”180 He then referred to rapid population growth in the United States and blamed immigration for most of the increase.181 In the same piece, he favorably quoted President Clinton’s Population and Consumption Task Force, which reported: “We believe that reducing current immigration levels is a necessary part of working toward sustainability in the United States.”182 Beck further stated:
The 1990s saw the biggest population boom in U.S. history. This is truly astounding news coming three decades after widespread agreement among Americans that the country was mature and probably already overpopulated. No wonder Americans became increasingly alarmed at their deteriorating quality of life due to sprawl, congestion, overcrowded schools, lost open spaces and increasing restrictions on their individual liberty caused by the new population explosion!183
As Beck clearly states, the issue is not so much immigration in itself but population control:
To talk about changing immigration numbers is to say nothing against the individual immigrants in this country. Rather, it is about deciding how many foreign citizens living in their own countries right now should be allowed to immigrate in the future.184
Beck and Leon Kolankiewicz wrote a report in 2001 titled, “Forsaking Fundamentals: The Environmental Establishment Abandons U.S. Population Stabilization.” They portrayed a Catholic conspiracy led from the Vatican to halt population-control policies, and cited National Security Study Memorandum 200 (NSSM 200), a long document about the dangers to American national security of population growth in third-world nations.185 The report was endorsed by President Ford,186 but Beck believes that its population-control recommendations were never implemented “because of intense pressure applied by the Vatican and the U.S. Conference of Bishops.”187 Beck’s notion that NSSM 200 was never implemented is fiction and Catholics are his scapegoat.
Beck seemed to suggest that American Catholics are more loyal to the Vatican than they are to the American government, claiming that “U.S. government officials of Roman Catholic background were particularly susceptible to such pressure”188 from the Vatican and U.S. bishops. Beck also complained that into the 1990s it was difficult for “a pro-stabilization person or group to get a hearing among many Catholic and pro-life groups without being automatically considered an abortion apologist.”189
NumbersUSA’s website features a litany of outlandish environmental claims and pleas for population control. Environmental sustainability is the stated objective of NumbersUSA’s population-control and anti-immigration advocacy.190 The organization also appears concerned that increased immigration will cause population growth and damage the environment.191 In fact, its concern for the environment is so great that it wants immigration bills to be reviewed by the environmental committees in Congress.192
On virtually every page of NumbersUSA’s website, there are warnings about overpopulation. It begs its followers to:
Contact your senators and representatives and urge them to vote for bills which would help stabilize the United States’s population numbers, and to vote against bills that would worsen the problem. Use NumbersUSA.com to send e-faxes to your congressmen for free, to stay informed on all the latest immigration bills in congress, and to find the latest news on the effort to reduce immigration numbers.
Similarly, it argues that cutting immigration would reduce the population and therefore CO2 emissions.193 Notably, NumbersUSA’s reasons for decreasing immigration are the same used by other population-control advocates.194
The radical Weeden Foundation (WF) played no less a prominent role in funding NumbersUSA than it did with FAIR and CIS. NumbersUSA board member Don Weeden, son of Alan Weeden, is also the executive director of WF and had a long career working at Planned Parenthood.195 Between 2001 and 2008 WF granted $180,000 to NumbersUSA196 in addition to the hundreds of thousands of dollars it also donated to other population-control, pro-abortion, environmental, and anti-immigration groups.
Working with Pro-Life Leaders?
FAIR, CIS, and NumbersUSA were created and now are largely supported and staffed by radical environmentalist population-control and abortion advocates. Many of those same people and organizations fund and ideologically support abortion, sterilization, and population-control policies. FAIR serves as the activist wing of the movement, while CIS produces studies and research reports that support their position. NumbersUSA makes little effort to hide its advocacy for population control.
Beyond the legacies and goals of FAIR, CIS, and NumbersUSA, in recent years they have attempted—in many ways successfully—to broaden their advocacy efforts by establishing ties to leaders, organizations, and elected officials who are otherwise staunch defenders of life. The legislative battles and highly intense public debates over immigration in the mid-2000s served as an opportunity for the population-control movement to whitewash its true agenda. FAIR, CIS, and NumbersUSA have managed to conceal their true intentions enough to be invited to speak at conferences, briefings, and media events alongside pro-life individuals and leaders.
For example, former U.S. Representative from Colorado Tom Tancredo and current Representative Steve King (R-IA) are both on record as not just citing, but praising, the work of FAIR, NumbersUSA, and CIS. Another former U.S. Representative, Todd Tiahrt of Kansas, was one of numerous “pro-life” members of Congress who worked with FAIR and/or NumbersUSA to craft immigration-related legislation. Likewise, think tanks and advocacy organizations that describe themselves as pro-family and pro-life have allied with Roy Beck of NumbersUSA, Dan Stein of FAIR, and Mark Krikorian of CIS. This represents such a stark dichotomy that one must, at a minimum, question whether any due diligence was done at all.
No civilization has ever sustained a shrinking population and a growing economy for long. Without people there is no economy, and nobody left to value the environment.197 Organizations that would limit population growth through abortion, drugs, sterilization, and other methods are pursuing a radical anti-life agenda that undermines our country, freedom, prosperity, and morality.
Those who seek to advance the pro-life cause should not allow themselves to be fooled by those whose work is ultimately diametrically opposed to the right to life—the most fundamental of all rights. Regardless of one’s particular views on immigration, pro-life leaders in particular should denounce CIS, FAIR, NumbersUSA, and any other entities that advance the dark cause of population control.
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Mario H. Lopez is president of the Hispanic Leadership Fund, a national advocacy organization that promotes free enterprise, limited government, and individual liberty.
Excellent overview. I jut discovered the history of these groups this week, although I have been familiar with Numbers USA for years. Must admit, I never looked the site over carefully to see what they were really all about. I am spreading the word.
Mario H. Lopez:
I don’t see you “bio” so I’ll guess:
Your real agenda is open borders, at least for your fellow Hispanics.
If endless human population growth is so good, how come people all over the world are desperately trying to escape places with the highest population growth?
And guess where they’re trying to escape to — places where humans stopped their population growth.
Details details, right, Mario??
Thank you for compiling this article and research. It’s unbelievably tragic that eugenics still persists in America, though disguised as seemingly harmless political movements. Thanks for the article and the footnotes that go with it.
I only thought I had done my research on these Tanton groups but you went into so much more detail. Comment just above regarding the eugenics is so true. The odious stench of the Eugenics Movement is still playing a large roll in the excuses for their obscene programs. Their unscientific ideas, fears, preferences and desires really rest in their obsession to control other people.
Reply to Pat Kittle’s comment that “people all over the world are desperately trying to escape places with the highest population growth”: Actually, Hispanic countries, from which most immigrants come, are about as densely populated as the U.S., and they are coming mostly to states like California that are the most densely populated!
Not only are FAIR, NumbersUSA, and CIS morally bankrupt, by their birth and shared view of population with abortionists and eugenicists in direct flagrant opposition to God’s “be fruitful and multiply”, but they are intellectually bankrupt: although their primary argument against more legal immigration is the economic catastrophe that would cause, not one of their staff ever cared enough about correctly understanding economics to make that their major in college! While the consensus of economists is that even a lot more legal immigration would pay down our national debt, and increase the number and quality of jobs, and wages, of citizens in the long run. http://www.CafeConLecheRepublicans.com/immigration-resources
Well written but I see a major contridiction: the left is the primary supporter of the groups you mention, the political environmental movement, and open borders. The concerns most conservatives have with immigration and open borders is the economic, health, and political challenges we will face.
As a nation we have the right to establish our laws and enforce those laws. Our borders are central to do so. Unlimited and unchecked immigration, regardless of who is hijacking and politicizing the situation is not safe or sustainable.
Efforts should focus on fixing the corrupt governments and other challenges countries face versus shifting the burden to “wealthy” nations.