March 8, 2011 : The Carnegie Corporation and Immigration: How a Noble Vision Lost Its Way

The Carnegie Corporation and Immigration: How a Noble Vision Lost Its Way

(The following is a shortened version of a recent report done by Jerry Kammer, a researcher for the well-respected U.S. Center for Immigration Studies.

(Two of the Carnegie Corporation’s major goals are to accomplish “real and permanent good” and to promote “the advancement and diffusion of knowledge and understanding.” However, as Mr. Kammer points out, on the immigration issue, the Carnegie Foundation has lost its way and betrayed its purpose.

(Canada’s foundations, our federal government and our CBC should take note. Canadian foundations and Ottawa give hundreds of millions of dollars to immigration organizations which violate their tax-free charitable status by advocating for high immigration. Our CBC receives $1 Billion from Canadians every year but betrays Canada by promoting the interests of these immigration-expansionist organizations.)

1. The Immigration Policy Center (an organization with ties to the American Immigration Lawyers Association) recently issued a report saying that immigrants and their children had doubled their presence in the U.S. electorate between 1996 and 2008, and now comprised 10 percent of registered voters. The implied warning : new immigrants hold a key weapon and politicians cannot ignore them.

2. The Carnegie Corporation of New York funds organizations like the Immigration Policy Center that advocate for immigration at the expense of low-wage Americans. In the past 10 years, Carnegie has spent over $57 million in helping immigrants to naturalize, register, and vote. Carnegie also supports “comprehensive immigration reform” (CIR) which would give amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants who would then be allowed to bring millions of family members into the U.S. legally.

3. Carnegie’s efforts to help immigrants integrate are laudable, but Carnegie’s activism on behalf of illegal immigrants has taken on such a strident, polarizing, and partisan character that it betrays the mission it received from its benefactor, legendary steel baron and Scottish immigrant Andrew Carnegie. The Carnegie Foundation’s immigration activism has funded smear campaigns that explicitly seek to narrow the national discussion by demonizing those who dissent from CIR.

4. In 1911, Andrew Carnegie created the first grant-making foundation, which he named the Carnegie Corporation of New York. It is one of many philanthropic organizations that bear his name. He envisioned an organization that would accomplish “real and permanent good” and promote “the advancement and diffusion of knowledge and understanding.”

5. In its century of existence, the Carnegie Corporation has funded many ambitious initiatives : thousands of community libraries, important research in a broad range of scholarly and policy fields, from nuclear non-proliferation, to public television, to the search for new forms of journalism in the age of the Internet. Carnegie-funded research nurtured the creation of such programs as Public Television’s Sesame Street.

6. In many ways the foundation has remained true to Carnegie’s vision, constructively pursuing the work described in 1964 by then-president John Gardner, who said the role of a foundation was “to make money go a long way in the service of creativity and constructive change. But it has veered away from its purpose by funding many organizations that promote passage of “comprehensive immigration reform” (CIR) legislation, attack its critics, and conduct legal challenges to enforcement of immigration law.

7. Current Carnegie Foundation chair Vartan Gregorian is aware of the change in Carnegie’s focus. Carnegie-supported campaigns to demonize and delegitimize those who disagree with CIR have been poisoning the atmosphere for civil discussion that fosters the effort to find common ground and reach compromise. Foundations enjoy their current tax-free status because they claim to be non-partisan. The preponderance of foundation grants to advocacy groups, however, suggests that foundations are less devoted to the reasoned pursuit of the public good than to the multiculturalist dogmas propounded by their staff.

8. Critics lament the loss by many people of contact with others who might think differently. Organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Center for New Community have flagrantly distorted the views of those who oppose CIR. These organizations also deny immigration’s connection with environmental or population concerns, or indeed any other concerns.

9. The Carnegie official most responsible for immigration grantmaking is Geraldine Mannion. The daughter of Irish immigrants, Mannion, in her advocacy for immigrant rights, does not distinguish between immigrants who follow U.S. immigration laws and thus are already on a path to citizenship, and those who have violated the law but still seek that privilege.

10. Mannion believes that the way to fix the system is to pass legislation that would expand legal immigration and provide legal status to illegal immigrants. She has directed tens of millions of Carnegie dollars to support that effort, which has received tens of millions more from other groups in which she is active.

11. Texas State Senator Barbara Jordan, a Democrat, a black, and an icon of the American civil rights movement, in the 1990s chaired the U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform. The commission, which was established by Congress to study immigration and suggest policy changes, recommended that annual admissions of new immigrants first be increased to clear backlogs of those already approved. It recommended that admissions then be reduced to 550,000, down from the then-prevailing level of 800,000. It also called for a computerized registry connected to the Social Security system that would verify a worker’s legal status.

12. In contrast to many advocates of expansionist immigration policy, Jordan did not see immigration as such an undiluted blessing that only a bigoted, nativist fringe would want to restrict it. Indeed, Jordan believed that immigration must be restricted in order to provide the civic and economic space for it to be successful.

13. Said Jordan, “If we are to preserve our immigration tradition and our ability to say yes to so many of those who seek entry, we must also have the strength to say no where we must”. Jordan was alarmed at illegal immigration. As the Washington Post reported, her commission in 1994 “concluded that illegal immigration into the United States had reached a point that required urgent attention and an aggressive crackdown by authorities.” In its 1994 report to Congress, the Jordan Commission asserted that “it is both a right and a responsibility of a democratic society to manage immigration so that it serves the national interest.”Since that time, efforts to pass laws that would have adopted Jordan’s recommendations have been thwarted by the left-right coalition of interest groups that Carnegie has done so much to finance.

14. Even in 1958, then Senator John F. Kennedy said : “There is, of course, a legitimate argument for some limitation upon immigration,” Kennedy wrote. “We no longer need settlers for virgin lands, and our economy is expanding more slowly than in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

15.In the decades since, legal immigration has soared, from an annual average of 322,000 in the decade of the sixties, to 449,000 in the seventies, to 734,000 in the eighties, to 901,000 in the nineties, to nearly a million in the decade that has just ended. Those increases are the result of decisions by Congress, at the urging of the expansionist coalition to allow family connections, not skill or talent, to dominate policy.

16. Illegal immigration has grown tremendously, highlighting a national failure that was decried in 1981 by the Select Commission on Immigration and Refugee Policy, which held nationwide hearings under the direction of the Rev. Theodore Hesburgh, president of Notre Dame and former head of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. “If U.S. immigration policy is to serve this nation’s interests, it must be enforced effectively,’’ Hesburgh wrote in his introduction to the commission’s final report. “This nation has a responsibility to its people ­ citizens and permanent residents ­ and failure to enforce immigration law means not living up to that responsibility

17. The Hesburgh Commission’s recommendations helped produce the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA), which combined amnesty for millions of illegal immigrants with a promise of firm action to cut off future illegal flows with criminal sanctions for employers who knowingly hired illegal immigrants. The amnesty worked. Some three million unlawful residents received legal status. The promised enforcement failed,

18. Now, 25 years after IRCA , Carnegie and many of its grantees are seeking another amnesty. Carnegie’s promotion of civic participation includes its funding of efforts by the Center for Community Change to oppose enforcement of immigration law. Many Carnegie grants have gone to organizations such as La Raza (The Race, a left-leaning U.S. Latino organization), but the open-borders Cato Institute has also received Carnegie funding.

19. Carnegie has shown no interest in promoting dialogue between those on opposite sides of the CIR debate. Geraldine Mannion has distorted polls to justify advocacy for CIR. Nevada Senator Harry Reid, once an advocate of immigration reduction to 300,000 per year, recently advocated CIR and won re-election with the support of Latino voters. Reid goes against American public opinion. As the Christian Science Monitor reported in 2006, “No public opinion poll in the past 50 years has found a majority of Americans favoring increased immigration.”

20. Similar concerns prompted liberal icons Gaylord Nelson and David Brower to push for immigration policies aimed at reducing population growth. Organizations such as FAIR, Numbers USA , the Center for Immigration Studies, Progressives for Immigration Reform and Apply the Brakes have all expressed concern about immigration but have been denounced by organizations funded by Carnegie.

21. Carnegie has long expressed concern for the widening gap between rich and poor, but it has seen no connection between immigration and that gap. Carnegie’s avoidance of these issues is puzzling. It suggests that ideological rigidity and willful blindness have prevailed in Carnegie grantmaking.

22. Far from pursuing the open-minded, far-ranging, and probing philanthropy that Andrew Carnegie intended and that Carnegie’s new chair, Vartan Gregorian, claims to advocate, Carnegie spends its millions exclusively on the expansionist side of the immigration debate. It is a loss for American democracy that Carnegie’s simplistic and ideologically bound approach to immigration policy has justified its funding of campaigns to smear those who dare to suggest more cautious immigration policy.

23. The campaign by CIR advocates to demonize restrictionist organizations took shape in late 2007, following the failure of the CIR (comprehensive immigration reform) bill in the Senate. The centerpiece of the campaign was a December 2007 declaration by the Southern Poverty Law Center that it had decided to designate FAIR as a “hate group”.  Tom Barry , director of the TransBorder Project at the liberal Center for International Policy,  has stated : “One wonders just whom the media is supposed to talk to about the restrictionist cause if reporters are to reject these three influential institutes (FAIR, NumbersUSA and CIS) as illegitimate”.  “Trying to stick a label of extremism on institutes that have massive memberships, good relations with the media, and good standing on the Hill is a measure of how desperate and isolated the pro-immigration forces that have embraced this strategy really are.

24. The CNC has also attacked the environmentally focused Weeden Foundation for financially supporting the work of FAIR, CIS, and Numbers USA. Foundation Executive Director Don Weeden recently joined other conservation leaders to establish an organization that seeks to engage the public on the environmental consequences of rapid population growth, which in the United States in recent decades has been caused primarily by immigration. Called “Apply the Brakes,” the group traces its growth to concerns about “the decades-long retreat of U.S. environmental organizations from addressing domestic population growth as a key issue in both domestic and global sustainability.

24. One of the other members of Apply the Brakes, Colorado State University philosophy professor Philip Cafaro is the co-author of a paper that makes the environmental case for reducing immigration. The paper presents the case that the “comprehensive immigration reform” legislation sponsored by Senators Edward Kennedy and John McCain in 2006 could have led to “nearly tripling America’s population to over 850 million people by 2100.

25. The foremost American scholar of nativism, the eminent historian John Higham, criticized the tactic of labeling restrictionist concerns as rooted in nativism. Indeed, Higham, who died in 2003, shared many of those concerns. In the mid 1980s he wrote that “the growth of the world’s population and its increased mobility made regulatory action unavoidable. In the modern world, free migration would result in excessive population displacement toward countries with high wages or political stability.

26. The Carnegie Corporation’s failure to acknowledge such concerns as legitimate or to support the work of those who examine them in a balanced way is a loss for American democracy. Carnegie compounds the problem by funding those who demonize restrictionist organizations and seek to have them expelled from the forum of public debate. Such partisanship is a radical departure from its mission and its professed purpose.

27. Andrew Carnegie, who envisioned that the foundation would encourage “the advancement and diffusion of knowledge and understanding,” might agree. The Carnegie Corporation would honor that mandate by promoting constructive and creative dialogue across the great divide of immigration policy. Carnegie’s deviation from its mission undermines the democratic discussion it was meant to serve.