Immigration Can Offset US Population Decline | Cato at Liberty Blog

Cato Institute’s reply to the CIS post highlighting the limits of immigration in addressing an aging population ( Immigration and the Aging Society ). Not convinced. And like all immigration debates, the question is one of balance and understanding the limits of immigration in addressing ongoing policy and demographic issues:

The U.S. population is growing slowly and the average age of Americans is increasing as a result. Although the United States is not as old as other countries and likely to age better, the future looks demographically grim. Some social scientists and commentators think that boosting immigration can help delay or reverse those trends. Steven Camarota, director of research at the Center for Immigration Studies, makes a series of silly argumentsagainst the notion that immigration can slow the aging of the U.S. population. Camarota’s points below are in quotes and my responses follow.

In reality, a significant body of research shows that the impact of immigration on population aging is small. While immigration can certainly make our population larger, it does not make us dramatically younger.

Camarota might be correct that the current and historically low rate of immigration to the United States doesn’t much lower the average age of the population, but that does not mean that immigration could not lower the average age if it were expanded. He merely shows that current U.S. immigration policy, which is very restrictive and much closer to his ideal level than mine, cannot much affect the average age. We shouldn’t expect a restrictive immigration system that allows in, at least prior to the immigration restrictions adopted by President Trump and partly maintained by President Biden (so far), a number of immigrants roughly equal to 0.3 percent of the population annually to have a big effect on the average age of the population. In 2018, 32 OECD countries had higher immigration flows as a percent of their populations and only five had lower flows, relative to the United States. Camarota’s point does not rebut the argument that expanded immigration would lower the average age and expand U.S. population.

But demographers have known for a long time that, absent truly gargantuan and ever‐​increasing rates of immigration, it isn’t actually possible for immigrants to undo or dramatically slow the overall aging of society. As Oxford demographer David Coleman observes, ‘it is already well known that [immigration] can only prevent population ageing at unprecedented, unsustainable and increasing levels of inflow.’

Do demographers know that? I looked up the source of the quote by David Coleman, former British MP and member of the Galton Institute. Camarota clipped a portion of a longer quote that makes a slightly different point. Coleman’s full quote is: “Although immigration can prevent population decline, it is already well known that it can only prevent population ageing at unprecedented, unsustainable and increasing levels of inflow, which would generate rapid population growth and eventually displace the original population from its majority position [Camarota’s quote italicized].”

Coleman agrees that immigration can prevent population decline. He identifies two problems with more immigration: It would “generate rapid population growth and eventually displace the original population from its majority position.” Rapid population growth is one of the many goals of those of us who favor liberalized immigration, so I have no argument with Coleman there. We simply disagree as I believe that population growth is positive and he thinks it’s negative. When it comes to “displace the original population from its majority position,” Coleman means that immigrants and their descendants would eventually become the majority of the population in the United Kingdom at a high level of immigration.

There’s no good reason for Camarota to find that shocking as it has happened at least once in U.S. history. As sociologist Charles Hirschman pointed out, the population of the United States today would only be about 100 million if immigration had stopped in 1800. Since the current population is about 330 million, that means most Americans are immigrants or the descendants of post‐​1800 immigrants. That doesn’t mean that boosted immigration would be “unprecedented” or “unsustainable.” It sounds like a return to immigration normality for Americans.

There are four broad reasons why the demography doesn’t support the political credo. First, not all immigrants arrive young — in fact, a growing share are arriving at or near retirement age. Second, immigrants age just like everyone else, adding to the elderly population over time. Third, immigrant fertility rates tend to converge with those of the native born. Fourth, to the extent that immigrants do have higher fertility rates than the native born, their children add to the dependent population — those too young or old to work.

Camarota’s first point is a curious criticism of the current restrictive immigration system. If this is his concern, why not just increase legal immigration opportunities for younger immigrants? Camarota’s second point somewhat answers that criticism – because “immigrants age just like everyone else, adding to the elderly population over time.” After all, newborn babies age too and will one day retire, which is a particularly poor argument against having children or increasing immigration.

Camarota’s third point is that immigrants assimilate. While a surprising admission from Camarota given his research, immigrants and their children still increase the population, and it takes time for immigrant fertility to approach that of natives – which he admits in his next point. Camarota’s fourth point is that immigrants have higher fertility rates that produce children who are also dependents.

To sum up, Camarota thinks that our current immigration system doesn’t help reduce the ratio of dependents to workers, immigrants age like everybody else, immigrant fertility shrinks too rapidly, and immigrant fertility doesn’t shrink fast enough.

The Census Bureau also estimates that, in 2060, 59% of the population will be of working age. Again, this is based on the assumption that net migration will amount to an average of 1.1 million each year. Under a zero‐​immigration scenario, just under 57% of the population would be of working age. In other words, while immigration is projected to add 75 million people to the American population by 2060, it will only increase the working‐​age share of the population by about two percentage points. Even if annual net immigration were expanded by 50% above what the Census Bureau projects, so that it averaged about 1.65 million a year, it would still only increase the working‐​age share of the population by three percentage points.

In other words, Camarota writes that the U.S. can increase immigration by 50 percent and have a working‐​age share of the population in 2060 similar to what it would otherwise be in 2027 or, on the extreme other side, 2060 America will look like Japan will in 2032. The percentage point spread is small, but the social, economic, and fiscal impacts are larger than they appear. Japan’s looming population collapse is terrifying and a few percentage points difference caused by expanded legal immigration can delay it for decades or longer. Even better, expanding legal immigration is a lot cheaper than birth subsidies.

You can read the rest of Camarota’s piece as it merely expands upon his points, offers some politically correct suggestions for reforming entitlement programs, and adds more figures. Nowhere does Camarota contest the obvious counterargument that immigration’s currently small effects on America’s age distribution result from very restrictive immigration policies.

The U.S. fiscal imbalance is a serious problem created by a poorly designed entitlement system. Declining U.S. fertility exacerbated the problem of the fiscal imbalance in a way that a well‐​designed system would not face. In addition to that, a growing population is correlated with increasing prosperity over the long term. More people mean more ideas, workers, consumers, investors, as well as potential friends, neighbors, and family members.

The worldwide and American increase in economic output from expanded legal immigration would be large and much of it could be captured to resolve the fiscal imbalance – at least for a few more generations. According to some estimates, massively expanded immigration would place the United States in an unassailable economic position. Allowing Americans and immigrants to interact as they see fit would also be a more ethical policy. In short, there are many reasons to support expanding legal immigration, and reversing expected US population decline is one of them, despite what Neo‐​Malthusians say.

Source: Immigration Can Offset US Population Decline | Cato at Liberty Blog

Emails Outline Anti-Immigration Group’s Connection to Stephen Miller

Not a surprise:

Stephen Miller, President Trump’s hard-line immigration adviser, has long relied on data produced by the Center for Immigration Studies, a right-leaning think tank, to shape policy at the White House. Shortly after Mr. Trump was elected, Mr. Miller became well-known in the West Wing for putting printouts of studies published by the group on the president’s desk.

A new set of emails first published by a civil rights advocacy group, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and shared with The New York Times illustrates the degree to which Mr. Miller used the work of the think tank, which advocates restricting immigration, to shape coverage at Breitbart News, a conservative news site, while he served as a communications aide to Jeff Sessions, the former Republican senator from Alabama.

“He was almost a de facto assignment editor for the political writing team at Breitbart,” said Kurt Bardella, the site’s former spokesman and now a frequent critic of the Trump administration.

In one instance in January 2016 — around the time he joined Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign as a senior policy adviser — Mr. Miller sent Breitbart employees a study from the think tank that tracked Muslim population growth in the United States: “Huge Surge in U.S. newborns named ‘Mohammed,’” Mr. Miller wrote in the subject line. A related story appeared on Breitbart the next day.

More Evidence on Third-Generation Outcomes

While generally not a fan of the work of Centre for Immigration Studies, this study is nevertheless interesting.

There are similar variations among visible minority groups in Canada, admittedly from smaller numbers of third or more generations, younger cohort, for most groups save Black Canadians:

Will the children and grandchildren of low-skill immigrants eventually rise to the same socioeconomic level as natives? In a report published last fall, I investigated this question using the NLSY-97, a survey of people born between 1980 and 1984 that includes their grandparents’ places of birth. The grandparent information helps identify a true “third generation,” meaning U.S.-born people who have two U.S.-born parents but at least one foreign-born grandparent.

Because the largest and most consistently low-skill immigrant group has come from Mexico, my report compared the grandchildren of Mexican immigrants to a reference group of white Americans from the “fourth-plus generation” – meaning U.S. born with two U.S.-born parents and four U.S.-born grandparents. The results indicated that Americans with at least one Mexican-born grandparent lag significantly behind on measures of education and income. In other words, assimilation of this initially low-skill group is still not complete by the third generation.

After the Great Wave of immigration ended in the 1920s, Americans developed some romantic notions about assimilation. No matter where immigrants come from, no matter what skills they bring with them, no matter what circumstances they find themselves in upon arrival, their children and grandchildren will supposedly converge to the socioeconomic level of the pre-existing population. Desirable as that outcome may be, the convergence is often incomplete. The results for third-generation Mexican Americans described above are perhaps the starkest illustration.

Differential levels of assimilation are also evident when comparing the grandchildren of immigrant groups who arrived in the same time period. After the U.S. and Mexico, the most common grandparent place of birth in the NLSY-97 is Europe. (Unfortunately, no specific countries in Europe are identified in the data.) This post provides the results of a new analysis comparing two third-generation groups — the grandchildren of immigrants from Mexico, and the grandchildren of immigrants from Europe.

Based on parental data from the NLSY-97 and year-of-arrival data from the 1970 census, most grandparents of the NLSY-97’s European third generation arrived in the U.S. between 1910 and 1950. Unlike Mexican immigrants, who were almost uniformly low-skill, European immigrants in that time frame were more mixed. They include largely low-skill Southern and Eastern European immigrants who arrived before the 1924 restriction, but also some educated refugees from Central Europe during the Nazi period, along with both skilled and unskilled immigrants from the post-war era.

The table below compares the grandchildren of Mexican immigrants and the grandchildren of European immigrants on measures of educational attainment, test scores, work time, and income. Although the two groups graduated from high school at about the same rate, the grandchildren of European immigrants have more than double the rate of college completion. They also scored higher on the AFQT, which the military uses to assess math and verbal skills. Similarly, although weeks worked are roughly equivalent for both groups, the grandchildren of European immigrants significantly out-earn their counterparts with Mexican-born grandparents.

On most measures, the European third generation even slightly outperforms the reference group of fourth-plus generation whites. Clearly, not all immigrant groups end up in the same place by the third generation.

For details on the data set and the calculations, please see my report from last fall. Also note that for simplicity and sample size considerations, the ethnic and cross-sectional samples of the Mexican third generation are combined in the table above.

Source: More Evidence on Third-Generation Outcomes

The Private Money Shaping Public Conversation About Restricting Immigration

In-depth analysis. Always helpful to follow the money:

For years, the think tanks and organizations that pushed for tougher immigration restrictions operated on the fringes of public policy debates. Now, with a powerful friend in the White House, they are enjoying new influence. Promises to build a wall along the United States-Mexico border were a popular refrain at then-candidate Donald Trump’s campaign rallies. As president, he has remained committed to lowering immigration levels and has escalated efforts to secure funding for the wall, starting by shutting down the government, and now by declaring a national emergency.

Cheering Trump on, and often providing intellectual ammunition for his administration’s policies, are nonprofits like the Center for Immigration Studies, the Federation for American Immigration Reform, and NumbersUSA—all kept alive by philanthropic donations from a handful of foundations and donors.

Those organizations and others like them are not without controversy. The Center for Immigration Studies and Federation for American Immigration Reform are both designated as anti-immigrant hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center, though the classification is rejected by supporters. NumbersUSA is not designated as a hate group by the watchdog, though several other, smaller groups working to restrict immigration are. The full list may be found here.

The Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, has also criticized the Center for Immigration Studies for releasing inaccurate research to advance its restrictionist agenda.

These think tanks depend on philanthropic donations for their survival. Donations made up 99 percent of revenue at both the Center for Immigration Studies and NumbersUSA in 2016. That year, they made up 96 percent of the Federation for American Immigration Reform’s revenue.

Many of those donations flow from a relatively small set of donors who’ve backed advocates and policymakers pushing for lower immigration levels over many years. These funders are finally seeing a return on their investment in a case study of the influence that can come from patiently backing policy work—so it’s worth taking a close look at their motivations and priorities.

Who Are These Funders and What Do They Want?

Foundations that give to organizations pushing to restrict immigration include the Colcom Foundation, the Scaife foundations, which include the Scaife Family Foundation and Sarah Scaife Foundation, and the Weeden Foundation.

The Colcom Foundation is the most prolific of this group. The Pennsylvania-based funder gave nearly $18 million to groups pushing for lower immigration in 2016, about 60 percent of the foundation’s total giving that year.

The foundation was established in the 1990s by Cordelia Scaife May. May was a friend of John Tanton, who was involved in several anti-immigration organizations, including Colcom grantees the Center for Immigration Control, the Federation for American Immigration Reform, and NumbersUSA. Tanton was known for his controversial views about eugenics and the need to defend a “European-American majority” in the United States. Colcom and other foundations that give to organizations Tanton was involved in have tried to distance themselves from racial or nativist motivations. But his views continue to provide fodder to critics.

May was the sister of Richard Mellon Scaife, the conservative billionaire behind the Scaife Family Foundation and Sarah Scaife Foundation. All three foundations give to policy groups that push to lower immigration.

Education and shaping public discourse around immigration levels is a big focus of Scaife’s grants to organizations pushing to restrict immigration. While the goal of this funding is to lower immigration levels, representatives from the Colcom and Weeden foundations stressed to Inside Philanthropy that they don’t consider themselves anti-immigrant, or even anti-immigration, though they do want to restrict the number of foreigners coming into the country.

For the Colcom Foundation, cutting immigration by about half to around 500,000 people a year would be a good starting point, said Vice President John Rohe. As a foundation, the organization does not lobby for specific policy measures, rather it hopes to influence public opinion. Rohe believes this work is necessary because of the emotional tenor of debates about immigration.

“This is fundamentally important to a country because immigration has, over time, been an emotional issue for the United States, and it still is today,” said Rohe. “It’s difficult for the United States to have a meaningful, informed conversation on the level of immigration somewhere in the middle.”

Rather than emotions, Rohe believes concerns for the labor market and environment should inform the conversation around immigration levels. “What should the level of immigration be that preserves the carrying capacity and ensures a long-term, pro-immigrant, sustainable level of immigration? Which, by the way, should be administered on a racially neutral basis,” Rohe said. “There should be no room, zero tolerance, for racism in this policy.”

The environment comes up a lot with funders that support restricting immigration levels. They believe environmental sustainability is threatened by population growth fueled primarily through immigration.

“We currently have about 328 million people. You’re looking at almost a one-third increase in 50 years in a country that has biodiversity losses, that has 40 states confronting water shortages, that has trouble controlling the toxic emissions from cars and gridlock and energy in its cities, that is dealing with urban sprawl devouring millions of acres every year, and then you add 103 million people,” Rohe said, citing a 2015 Pew Research Center report that estimated immigrants and their children would account for more than 100 million people added to the U.S. population by 2065.

“Some would have a concern that adding another 103 million people in 50 years to a nation that’s already straining its water resources,” Rohe added. “Are our landfills too under-utilized? Are our roads too open? Is there too much farmland? Is there too much fresh water? Is the water too clean?”

The Weeden Foundation funds groups pushing for lower immigration for similar reasons, though immigration work makes up a much smaller percentage of the funder’s total giving. “Immigration is addressed in the context of U.S. population growth and its impact on the environment, particularly on habitat for wildlife,” said Don Weeden, the foundation’s executive director.

“It’s not a major effort for us, but we feel it’s important to address the drivers of biological impoverishment, and that includes the United States’ very high level of consumption and its relatively high population growth,” he said. “It’s a combination of both that’s really driving a combination of unsustainable trends, including sprawl, energy use, CO2 emissions and pollution generally.”

Not everyone agrees that overpopulation is or will in the near future be a problem in the U.S. In fact, some economists argue that immigration is needed, given falling birth rates.

As the country’s birth rate declines and population ages, some economists, like Lyman Stone, a columnist for Vox and an agricultural economist at the Department of Agriculture, argue that population growth and the contribution of immigration are not only desirable, but necessary for long-term prosperity.

Stone also argued in Vox that the role population growth plays in climate change, whether through birth rate or immigration, has been overhyped.

Groups advocating on behalf of immigrants have also objected to the foundations’ use of conservation as a justification for their work to curb immigration. Daranee Petsod, president of Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees, stressed that overpopulation is not an issue in the United States.

“The U.S. birth rate is at a 30-year low, and many economists believe that more immigration is needed,” Petsod said. “In parts of the country that are depopulating—from Rockford, Illinois, to Lancaster, Pennsylvania—mayors, business and civic leaders are actively seeking immigrants and refugees to help revitalize their communities.”

“It’s not valid to connect the two issues because limiting immigration does not advance conservation goals,” she said. “Anti-immigrant groups often hide behind the guise of conservation to promote their restrictionist agenda.”

The Numbers

Among the foundations, Colcom gives the most—both in dollar amounts and percentage of total grants—to groups working to restrict immigration.

With about $440 million in reported assets in 2015, the foundation also gives to groups that tackle conservation from other angles. Past giving has especially favored conservation efforts in the foundation’s native Pennsylvania.

However, the majority of grants each year—about 60 percent in 2016—go to groups that focus on immigration, rather than deal directly with the environment. The biggest beneficiaries of this strategy in 2016 were the Federation for American Immigration Reform with $7.4 million in grants, NumbersUSA with $6.8 million and the Center for Immigration Studies with $1.7 million.

The foundation also gave to Americans for Immigration Control, Californians for Population Stabilization, the Immigration Reform Law Institute, Negative Population Growth Inc. and Progressives for Immigration Reform.

Perhaps an even more telling sign of Colcom’s stature in the field is how much of the organizations’ annual revenues are dependent on the foundation’s donations.

For the Federation for American Immigration Reform, in 2016 Colcom grants made up about two-thirds of the think tank’s total revenue, and nearly 70 percent of contributions the organization received.

Colcom’s giving makes up a similar percentage of NumbersUSA’s revenue and total gifts. At the Center for Immigration Studies, Colcom’s giving hovers at just under 60 percent of the nonprofit’s revenue. For smaller organizations, Colcom can serve as an even more significant lifeline. The foundation’s donations made up about 97 percent of the Immigration Reform Law Institute’s funding in 2016.

The Weeden and Scaife foundations also give to support anti-immigration groups, but to a much smaller extent when compared to their overall grantmaking. In 2015, the Scaife Family Foundation gave about 7 percent, or $225,000, to organizations arguing for less immigration. That number was near 2 percent for the Sarah Scaife Foundation.

With its other giving, the Sarah Scaife Foundation carries on founder Richard Mellon Scaife’s support of conservative and libertarian causes. In 2015, the foundation supported the conservative think tanks the Cato Institute and Heritage Foundation, along with George Mason University’s Mercatus Center, the free-market economics think tank and research center supported by Charles Koch.

The Scaife Family Foundation stands out from the others for its focus on the well-being of domestic animals. The foundation supports several organizations that work with cats, dogs and horses.

The Weeden Foundation typically gives 5 to 10 percent of its grantmaking dollars to organizations like the Center for Immigration Studies. In 2015, the foundation reported about $31 million in assets.

That year, about $165,000 out of the funder’s $2.2 million in grantmaking went to think tanks working to reduce immigration, including the Center for Immigration Studies, the Federation for American Immigration Reform and NumbersUSA, along with Californians for Population Stabilization, Negative Population Growth Inc. and Progressives for Immigration Reform.

With the rest of its giving, the Weeden Foundation supports environmental organizations, conservation efforts and other means to curbing population growth, including groups that advocate for reproductive rights.

The Colcom, Scaife and Weeden foundations are not the only funders supporting hardline immigration organizations, though most others give at much lower levels.

The F.M. Kirby Foundation, Jaquelin Hume Foundation, John M. Olin Foundation, Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, Philip M. McKenna Foundation, Shelby Cullom Davis Foundation, Smith Richardson Foundation, Weiler Foundation, and William H. Donner Foundation have also given to the Center for Immigration Studies, Federation for American Immigration Reform, or both, according to the Center for Media and Democracy, a progressive nonprofit watchdog and advocacy organization. However, those donations were at much lower levels than the Colcom or Scaife foundations.

Of course, foundations are not the only avenues donors have to give to organizations. They can give as individuals or funnel money through donor-advised funds.

Money that comes from individuals or flows through donor-advised funds is harder to track than foundation giving. Like any philanthropy, donor-advised funds are required to disclose their grantees on publicly accessible tax forms, but they’re not required to share where that funding comes from. This anonymity can be attractive to donors who want to give to causes that they may feel are controversial.

The Foundation for the Carolinas, which hosts 2,600 donor-advised funds, is one major conduit of money to organizations pushing for immigration restriction. In 2016, the foundation gave around $4.3 million to such groups. In 2015, that number was about $4.8 million. NumbersUSA was the biggest recipient, racking up about $5 million in grants over two years. These gifts, none of which can be traced back to a specific funder, made up a relatively small percentage of the foundation’s total giving each of those years, which ranged from about $260 to $290 million.

Donors Trust is another donor-advised fund, known for its support of conservative causes. The fund has given some money to anti-immigration think tanks over the years, according to a database maintained by Conservative Transparency, which tracks donations to conservative causes and candidates. However, the amounts have never rivaled foundations like Colcom or even the Foundation for the Carolinas in size.

From 2002 to 2017, the trust gave a little more than $3 million to hardline immigration organizations. NumbersUSA was the biggest beneficiary of that giving, racking up $2.7 million over that 15-year period.

The Criticism

Philanthropic support of anti-immigration organizations has attracted intensifying criticism in recent years. “For decades, these foundations have financed anti-immigrant groups to spread a narrative that demonizes and dehumanizes immigrants. The Southern Poverty Law Center has documented statements and actions by many of these groups as being racist, bigoted and xenophobic,” said GCIR’s Petsod. “Their efforts to espouse fear and hate have divided our nation and have resulted in policies that are anathema to American values.”

As Petsod highlighted, several of the think tanks these foundations support are characterized as anti-immigrant hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). That includes two of the three most prominent organizations, the Center for Immigration Studies and the Federation for American Immigration Reform.

The SPLC and its designations are not without their own critics, especially on the right, which has accused the watchdog of inappropriately labeling groups it disagrees with as extremists.

Don Weeden sees the center’s hate group designations as another symptom of a national conversation that has deteriorated into name calling. In the past, the Weeden Foundation has given to Californians for Population Stabilization, the Center for Immigration Studies and the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which are labeled as hate groups by the SPLC.

“I vouch for our grantees,” Weeden said.

“It’s a kangaroo court—that’s what the Southern Poverty Law Center is doing in labeling these groups ‘hate groups,’” he said. “In fact, it strikes me that there are those on the left—and I’m not saying everyone on the left—who have chosen to smear rather than debate. Perhaps you can say it’s easier, and in some respects more effective, but it has led in part to the polarization on this issue and the lack of national debate on this issue, as well.”

In fact, Weeden says that his foundation gets criticized from both sides of the aisle for the work it supports.

“We and our grantees get criticized on the right for being radical environmentalists. You turn it around and you get criticized from the left for being right-wing reactionaries. So where is the truth?” he said. “Well, it’s none of the above.”

“We don’t look at issues through a political lens. We look at them largely because our mission is to protect biodiversity. We look at it through that lens.”

Colcom’s Rohe echoed Weeden’s lament about the reluctance at informed, measured debate around immigration.

“This has been an emotionally charged issue, and the effort to have an informed, constructive, civic dialogue has been difficult for the country over the course of history,” he said. “Hopefully we can move beyond that.”

Rohe also denied that his foundation would have any part in supporting racism or organizations with racist agendas.

“It would not be funded by this foundation, but there could be people that would be drawn to this issue for the wrong reasons,” Rohe said. “I can’t apologize for that. The foundation would never support that.”

Source: The Private Money Shaping Public Conversation About Restricting Immigration

Trump Making ‘Nativist’ Group’s Wish List a Reality – The Daily Beast

Disturbing and part of a pattern:

On April 11, 2016, a tiny think tank with a bland name published a 79-point wish list. The list garnered virtually no media coverage, and in the 11 months since its publication has been largely ignored—except, apparently, by the White House.

Today, Donald Trump seems to be working through it as he rolls out his immigration policy. A number of the 79 items on the list composed by the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), have either been implemented or shown up in leaked draft proposals from the administration. It’s a course of events that has that think tank cautiously exultant and has immigrants’ rights activists anxious and disturbed.

CIS is one of the most vocal groups supporting increased detention and deportation of undocumented immigrants. It played a key role in torpedoing the 2013 Gang of 8 comprehensive immigration reform bill, and is a long-time favorite of Jeff Sessions and Stephen Miller.

Its newfound influence isn’t just on paper and in policy.

Mark Krikorian, CIS’s executive director, told The Daily Beast that last month, for the first time, his group scored an invite to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement stakeholder meeting, a gathering that happens a few times a year where ICE leaders talk policy and procedure with immigration lawyers and activists. And he said that since Trump’s inauguration, he’s been in touch with new appointees at the Department of Homeland Security. It’s a new level of access and influence that helps explain the quick, dramatic changes Trump has made in immigration policy—changes that will impact millions of people.

“We’re a think tank,” Krikorian said. “Our job is to put stuff out there. Our job is to put a message in a bottle and hope somebody finds it.”

It’s been found.

Just 50 days into his presidency, and Trump’s team has already discussed, proposed, or implemented upwards of a dozen of CIS’s ideas.

For instance, the 29th item on CIS’s list calls for detention of people coming to the U.S. seeking asylum.

“Doing so will restore integrity to an out-of-control system that encourages both border surges and asylum fraud,” the memo reads.

Feb. 21 memo from the Department of Homeland Security laid out how the department is working to quickly expand detention of undocumented immigrants, including asylum seekers….

In some cases, the president’s executive orders all but lift language from CIS’s list. For instance, this is the 65th item on the CIS list:

“Rescind all outstanding ‘prosecutorial discretion’ policies; eliminate the ‘Priority Enforcement Program’, and reinstitute Secure Communities.”

And this appeared in Trump’s Jan. 25 executive order:

“The Secretary shall immediately take all appropriate action to terminate the Priority Enforcement Program (PEP) described in the memorandum issued by the Secretary on November 20, 2014, and to reinstitute the immigration program known as ‘Secure Communities’ referenced in that memorandum.”

The Priority Enforcement Program directed ICE agents to focus their enforcement on undocumented immigrants who had convicted crimes. Now that PEP is toast, most undocumented immigrants in the U.S. are targets for deportation….

And the controversial VOICE office Trump announced at his speech to Congress—which would provide special advocacy and support to Americans hurt by crimes committed by undocumented immigrants—may have had its genesis with CIS. Item number 72 on their list calls for the creation of a “victims advocacy unit” responsible for “providing services to those who have been victimized by illegal alien criminals.”

Krikorian predicted an imminent step from the Trump administration could be worksite raids targeting places of employment for undocumented immigrants. That hasn’t happened yet on a widespread level, he added, but the president could direct it.

“It’s still early, so I expect stuff like that’s going to happen,” he said. “In a sense, that’s the next thing that I’d be looking for.”

And Krikorian’s group has more access than ever to the people who make immigration policy decisions. He said that in February, a representative from the group attended one of the stakeholder meetings that ICE has with immigration advocates several times per year. For CIS, it was a big first: Obama’s DHS had shown zero appetite to have CIS at the table for those meetings, which address wonky procedural issues like how immigrants are transported between detention facilities, how much access attorneys have to them, and how bond gets handled. Meeting participants include the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), the American Bar Association’s immigration project, and immigrants’ rights advocates. And, now, CIS—a leading proponent of increased detention and deportation.

CIS isn’t the only restrictionist group to find newly open ears at DHS. Dan Stein, of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, told The Daily Beast his group was also invited to the meeting as well (though he added it received meeting invites from the Obama administration too). Stein said his group has found the Trump administration to be very open to their ideas.

“As you might imagine, the communication is much better now, and people are asking us to attend all kinds of different meetings,” he said. “FAIR is a very important organization for explaining to people the purposes and strategies behind various administration strategies, and quite naturally the administration would have an interest in making sure we understood the information and properly explain it to people if we’re asked. When I go on CNN to explain the trump travel ban, I expect to have somebody explain it to me in a way I understand.”

And Roy Beck, who heads NumbersUSA—a restrictionist group that boasts a 1.5 million-member email list—said his organization was invited to the ICE stakeholder meeting as well, and has found open ears in the Trump administration, particularly DHS.

“What they’re trying to do meshes with what our organization has always tried to do,” he told The Daily Beast.

These three groups share a co-founder: John Tanton, a population control activist who flirted with racist pseudo-science, supported Planned Parenthood, and argued that immigration and population growth were bad for the environment. Immigrants’ rights advocates argue that the groups are covertly white supremacist and motivated by animus towards people of color. These groups, meanwhile, argue that activists who support immigrants’ rights are secretly in the pocket of corporate interests looking to drive down wages by bringing in immigrants willing to work for less than native-born Americans.

David Leopold, who formerly headed AILA, told The Daily Beast he found CIS’s invitation unsettling.

“I don’t know what the Center for Immigration Studies would be doing there honestly,” he said. “I don’t know why they would be there. What business do they have there? Do they represent people in proceedings? What business does Mark Krikorian have at the ICE liaison committee meeting?”

And Frank Sharry, who heads the activist group America’s Voice, said he shared those concerns and found CIS’s invitation “very disturbing.”

“You have this nativist cabal that has been on the outside looking in for 25 years and now they’re on the inside looking out, and they’re going to have outsized influence,” he said. “In fact, you could say that these groups—CIS and their fellow travelers—are going to own what the Trump administration does on immigration and refugee policy. I’m sure that makes them very happy. I think it should make the country alarmed.”

Source: Trump Making ‘Nativist’ Group’s Wish List a Reality – The Daily Beast