Sierra Club Takes Another Step in Its Retreat from the Immigration-Population Connection

By Jerry Kammer on April 20, 2016

The Sierra Club has made news again in its decades-long retreat from what used to be one of its central concerns: the influence of immigration on the population growth of the United States.

This time the story comes from Texas, where the Austin American-Statesman newspaper reports that the Austin chapter of the Sierra Club says it won't participate in that city's Earth Day festival Saturday because its chief underwriter, developer Trammell Crow, supports organizations that advocate reduction of immigration.

The newspaper quoted Reggie James, director of the Texas state chapter of the club, explaining the rational for the move. Referring to three restrictionist organizations — the Federation for American Immigration Reform, NumbersUSA, and Progressives for Immigration Reform — that are expected to participate in the Dallas version of festival, also underwritten by Crow, James said: "We consider them hate groups. It's Earth Day; it's not This-Side-of-the-Border Day."

The "hate group" label is the work of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which in 2008 applied it to FAIR. Since that time the SPLC and other groups — now including the Sierra Club in the Lone Star State — have applied it in guilt-by-association style to other groups that point out that most of the U.S.'s rapid population growth in recent decades has come from immigrants and their children.

As explained in the Center for Immigration Studies investigative report, "Immigration and the SPLC", that tag was "a publicity stunt in the service of the National Council of La Raza, which was about to launch a campaign intended to drive FAIR from the arena of public debate on national immigration policy." That campaign, named "We Can Stop the Hate", made the SPLC's attack on FAIR its centerpiece.

Earth Day founder Gaylord Nelson, a Wisconsin Democrat and prominent liberal, denounced accusations that racial hatred propelled those who seek limits on immigration. Said Nelson, "People have been silenced because they are scared to death of being charged with being a racist. But racism has nothing to do with it. It's a question of numbers."

Tomorrow this blog will list major steps in the Sierra Club's retreat, which has taken it from immigration-control activism to a declaration of neutrality to its 2013 endorsement of immigration-reform legislation that would have accelerated the growth of the U.S. population.

Club leaders believed it was necessary to placate those organizations in order to diversify its membership and prove its commitment to inclusiveness. They directed the retreat in response to demands from immigration activists and environmental justice organizations who charge that environmentalists who want to reduce immigration are engaged in "the greening of hate."