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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "Population"

Why an Heiress Spent Her Fortune Trying to Keep Immigrants Out

She was an heiress without a cause — an indifferent student, an unhappy young bride, a miscast socialite. Her most enduring passion was for birds.

But Cordelia Scaife May eventually found her life’s purpose: curbing what she perceived as the lethal threat of overpopulation by trying to shut America’s doors to immigrants.

She believed that the United States was “being invaded on all fronts” by foreigners, who “breed like hamsters” and exhaust natural resources. She thought that the border with Mexico should be sealed and that abortions on demand would contain the swelling masses in developing countries.

An heiress to the Mellon banking and industrial fortune with a half-billion dollars at her disposal, Mrs. May helped create what would become the modern anti-immigration movement. She bankrolled the founding and operation of the nation’s three largest restrictionist groups — the Federation for American Immigration Reform, NumbersUSA and the Center for Immigration Studies — as well as dozens of smaller ones, including some that have promulgated white nationalist views.

How $180 Million of May’s Fortune Has Fueled the Anti-Immigration Movement

From 2005 to 2017, the Colcom Foundation gave millions to anti-immigration and population-control groups, some with close ties to the Trump administration.

Westlake Legal Group connectionupdate-Artboard_1 Why an Heiress Spent Her Fortune Trying to Keep Immigrants Out Whites Tanton, John H Race and Ethnicity Population NumbersUSA May, Cordelia Scaife Immigration and Emigration Fringe Groups and Movements Federation for American Immigration Reform discrimination Colcom Foundation center for immigration studies

Numbers USA Education & Research Foundation
$58.2 million
Federation for American Immigration Reform
$56.7 million
Center for Immigration Studies
$17.6 million
U.S. Inc.
$17.2 million
Immigration Reform Law Institute
$12.4 million
Californians for Population Stabilization
$7.8 million
Progressives for Immigration Reform
$3.3 million
American Immigration Control Foundation
$1.5 million
International Services Assistance Fund
$1.1 million
Population Media Center
$1.1 million
Migration Dialogue
$856k
Negative Population Growth
$550k
Conservative Caucus Research Analysis and Education Foundation
$450k
VDARE Foundation
$325k
Population Institute
$241k
American Border Patrol
$240k
Population Resource Center
$135k
Advocates for a Sustainable Albemarle Population
$100k
Planned Parenthood of Western Pennsylvania
$100k

Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions and current senior policy adviser Stephen Miller are longtime FAIR allies.

Californians for

Population

Stabilization

NumbersUSA

Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR)

$58.2 million

$56.7 million

$7.8 million

Miller was the keynote speaker at the CIS annual awards ceremony in 2015.

$17.2 million

Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI)

Center for Immigration

Studies (CIS)

$12.4 million

$17.6 million

Former FAIR director

Julie Kirchner now the

ombudsman of U.S.

Citizenship and

Immigration Services.

Kris Kobach, who led the president’s voter fraud commission, worked as a lawyer for IRLI.

Former CIS analyst Jon Feere is now

a senior adviser to Immigration and

Customs Enforcement.

Kellyanne Conway, the president’s counselor, conducted polling for these groups.

Westlake Legal Group connectionupdate-Artboard_4 Why an Heiress Spent Her Fortune Trying to Keep Immigrants Out Whites Tanton, John H Race and Ethnicity Population NumbersUSA May, Cordelia Scaife Immigration and Emigration Fringe Groups and Movements Federation for American Immigration Reform discrimination Colcom Foundation center for immigration studies

Numbers USA Education & Research Foundation
$58.2 million
Federation for American Immigration Reform
$56.7 million
Center for Immigration Studies
$17.6 million
U.S. Inc.
$17.2 million
Immigration Reform Law Institute
$12.4 million
Californians for Population Stabilization
$7.8 million
Progressives for Immigration Reform
$3.3 million
American Immigration Control Foundation
$1.5 million
International Services Assistance Fund
$1.1 million
Population Media Center
$1.1 million
Migration Dialogue
$856k
Negative Population Growth
$550k
Conservative Caucus Research Analysis and Education Foundation
$450k
VDARE Foundation
$325k
Population Institute
$241k
American Border Patrol
$240k
Population Resource Center
$135k
Advocates for a Sustainable Albemarle Population
$100k
Planned Parenthood of Western Pennsylvania
$100k

Kris Kobach, who led the president’s voter fraud commission, worked as a lawyer for IRLI.

NumbersUSA

$58.2 million

Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI)

$12.4 million

$17.2 million

Kellyanne Conway, the president’s counselor, conducted polling for these groups.

Californians for

Population

Stabilization

$7.8 million

Center for Immigration

Studies (CIS)

$17.6 million

Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR)

Former CIS analyst Jon

Feere is now a senior

adviser to Immigration and

Customs Enforcement.

$56.7 million

Former FAIR director

Julie Kirchner now the

ombudsman of U.S.

Citizenship and

Immigration Services.

Miller was the keynote speaker at the CIS annual awards ceremony in 2015.

Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions and current senior policy adviser Stephen Miller are longtime FAIR allies.

Westlake Legal Group connectionupdate-Artboard_5 Why an Heiress Spent Her Fortune Trying to Keep Immigrants Out Whites Tanton, John H Race and Ethnicity Population NumbersUSA May, Cordelia Scaife Immigration and Emigration Fringe Groups and Movements Federation for American Immigration Reform discrimination Colcom Foundation center for immigration studies

Numbers USA Education & Research Foundation
$58.2 million
Federation for American Immigration Reform
$56.7 million
Center for Immigration Studies
$17.6 million
U.S. Inc.
$17.2 million
Immigration Reform Law Institute
$12.4 million
Californians for Population Stabilization
$7.8 million
Progressives for Immigration Reform
$3.3 million
American Immigration Control Foundation
$1.5 million
International Services Assistance Fund
$1.1 million
Population Media Center
$1.1 million
Migration Dialogue
$856k
Negative Population Growth
$550k
Conservative Caucus Research Analysis and Education Foundation
$450k
VDARE Foundation
$325k
Population Institute
$241k
American Border Patrol
$240k
Population Resource Center
$135k
Advocates for a Sustainable Albemarle Population
$100k
Planned Parenthood of Western Pennsylvania
$100k

Kellyanne Conway, the president’s counselor, conducted polling for these groups.

NumbersUSA

$58.2 million

Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI)

$12.4 million

$17.2 million

Californians for

Population

Stabilization

$7.8 million

Center for Immigration

Studies (CIS)

$17.6 million

Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR)

$56.7 million

Miller was the keynote speaker at the CIS annual awards ceremony in 2015.

Former FAIR director Julie Kirchner now the ombudsman of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions and current senior policy adviser Stephen Miller are longtime FAIR allies.

Westlake Legal Group connectionupdate-Artboard_6 Why an Heiress Spent Her Fortune Trying to Keep Immigrants Out Whites Tanton, John H Race and Ethnicity Population NumbersUSA May, Cordelia Scaife Immigration and Emigration Fringe Groups and Movements Federation for American Immigration Reform discrimination Colcom Foundation center for immigration studies

Numbers USA Education & Research Foundation
$58.2 million
Federation for American Immigration Reform
$56.7 million
Center for Immigration Studies
$17.6 million
U.S. Inc.
$17.2 million
Immigration Reform Law Institute
$12.4 million
Californians for Population Stabilization
$7.8 million
Progressives for Immigration Reform
$3.3 million
American Immigration Control Foundation
$1.5 million
International Services Assistance Fund
$1.1 million
Population Media Center
$1.1 million
Migration Dialogue
$856k
Negative Population Growth
$550k
Conservative Caucus Research Analysis and Education Foundation
$450k
VDARE Foundation
$325k
Population Institute
$241k
American Border Patrol
$240k
Population Resource Center
$135k
Advocates for a Sustainable Albemarle Population
$100k
Planned Parenthood of Western Pennsylvania
$100k

Kellyanne Conway, the president’s counselor, conducted polling for these groups.

NumbersUSA

$58.2 million

$17.2 million

Center for Immigration

Studies (CIS)

$17.6 million

Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR)

$56.7 million

Former FAIR director

Julie Kirchner now the

ombudsman of U.S.

Citizenship and

Immigration Services.

Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions and current senior policy adviser Stephen Miller are longtime FAIR allies.

Source: Colcom Foundation tax filings for fiscal years 2005-17 | By Weiyi Cai

Mrs. May’s story helps explain the ascendance of once-fringe views in the debate over immigration in America, including exaggerated claims of criminality, disease or dependency on public benefits among migrants. Though their methods radically diverged, Mrs. May and the killer in the recent mass shooting in El Paso applied the same language, both warning of an immigrant “invasion,” an idea also promoted by Mr. Trump.

In many ways, the Trump presidency is the culmination of Mrs. May’s vision for strictly limiting immigration. Groups that she funded shared policy proposals with Mr. Trump’s campaign, sent key staff members to join his administration and have close ties to Stephen Miller, the architect of his immigration agenda to upend practices adopted by his Democratic and Republican predecessors.

[Read how Stephen Miller rode an anti-immigration wave to the White House.]

“She would have fit in very fine in the current White House,” said George Zeidenstein, whose mainstream population-control group Mrs. May supported before she shifted to anti-immigration advocacy. “She would have found a sympathetic ear with the present occupant.”

Unlike her more famous brother, the right-wing philanthropist and publisher Richard Mellon Scaife, Mrs. May largely stayed out of the public eye. A childless widow who lived alone outside Pittsburgh, she instructed associates not to reveal her philanthropic interests and in some cases even to destroy her correspondence. While her unlikely role as the quiet bursar to anti-immigration organizations has been previously reported, her motivation and engagement in the immigration issue remained largely hidden.

The New York Times, through dozens of interviews and searches of court records, government filings and archives across the country, has unearthed the most complete record of her thinking. Mrs. May’s unpublished writings reveal her evolution from an environmental-minded Theodore Roosevelt Republican — in 1972 she was the nation’s largest single donor to mainstream congressional candidates — to an ardent nativist. Her ideological transformation presaged the Republican Party’s own shift from blue-blooded, traditional conservatism toward hard-right populism.

Chatty, handwritten notes to John D. Rockefeller III, the philanthropist Helen Clay Frick and the head of the National Audubon Society about luncheons and overseas trips gradually gave way over the years to darker exchanges with fringe figures who believed that black people were less intelligent than white people, Latino immigrants were criminals and white Americans were being displaced.

But Mrs. May disputed the notion that she was racist, writing to a grant recipient in November 1994, “Can we not put imaginary paper bags over the immigrants’ heads, see them as colorless consumers, and count only their deleterious numbers?”

Restrictionist groups she financed have blocked attempts at amnesties and immigration reform bills in Congress over the years. They fought for Proposition 187 in California to deny education, routine health care and other public services to undocumented immigrants; they argued against in-state tuition for the children of undocumented workers in Utah. They supported “show me your papers” laws in Arizona and Georgia and draconian local ordinances in Hazleton, Pa., and Farmers Branch, Tex.

“We occupied the space before anybody, and the people who helped found the organization and fund the organization, including Mrs. May, were people of enormous foresight and wisdom,” said Dan Stein, president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, who knew Mrs. May. “They would be gratified over the fact that we’ve seen these ideas championed at the highest level.”

The groups have wasted little time seizing the moment since Donald Trump came to the White House. As Mr. Stein’s organization, known as FAIR, put it in a federal tax filing last year, Mr. Trump’s election presented “a unique opportunity” to enact its longstanding agenda of “building the wall, ending chain migration, rolling back dangerous sanctuary policies, eliminating the visa lottery” and more.

Nowhere in the document is the name of its largest benefactor ever mentioned.

“Without Cordy May, there’s no FAIR,” said Roger Conner, the organization’s first executive director. “There was no money without her.”

Mrs. May’s immigration activism began in the 1970s, when the numbers of legal and illegal arrivals in the country were reaching heights unseen in decades. But she grew up during a period with the lowest levels of immigration in a century (and lower than any period since), thanks to a 1924 law that imposed strict quotas favoring Western European migrants. Her family lived in a part of the picturesque Ligonier Valley, outside Pittsburgh, that was more than 99 percent white when she was a child.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_158614626_5489deac-18b1-454c-85bb-02441015f2d8-articleLarge Why an Heiress Spent Her Fortune Trying to Keep Immigrants Out Whites Tanton, John H Race and Ethnicity Population NumbersUSA May, Cordelia Scaife Immigration and Emigration Fringe Groups and Movements Federation for American Immigration Reform discrimination Colcom Foundation center for immigration studies

Born into a privileged life with servants, exotic pets and lavish vacations, Cordelia Mellon Scaife was thought to be perhaps the world’s “richest baby.”CreditCarnegie Library of Pittsburgh

When the first photographs of an infant Cordelia Mellon Scaife appeared in newspapers across the country, she was heralded as potentially “the richest baby in the world.” Her life would be one of privilege: Her family vacationed in St. Moritz, Switzerland, and in Palm Beach, Fla., their movements tracked in society columns.

Young Cordy grew up in a stately Cotswold-style manor, staffed with servants, known as Penguin Court. Her eccentric mother, Sarah Mellon Scaife, tried to breed emperor penguins to waddle the grounds after the craze over Adm. Richard E. Byrd’s Antarctic expeditions.

But Mrs. Scaife, a sharp-tongued art collector, was an alcoholic and her daughter later described her youth as largely miserable. A friend of her parents, the dancer-actor Fred Astaire, tried to help her get discovered in Hollywood when she was 19 but her trip was ill timed. “The only star around was Lassie,” she remarked to an author, Burton Hersh, writing about the Mellon family.

Cordelia, right, with her mother, Sarah Mellon Scaife, and her brother, Richard, described her childhood as largely miserable.CreditCarnegie Library of Pittsburgh

After a marriage at age 20 that lasted just a few months, Mrs. May joined in the family tradition of philanthropy. Her mother had provided funding for Dr. Jonas Salk’s lab at the University of Pittsburgh, where he developed the polio vaccine. Mrs. May became active in local charities, including a children’s health center and a school for the blind, and started the Laurel Foundation in 1951, when she was 23, to channel her giving. She also donated to Republican candidates, both local and national.

But it was Margaret Sanger, the famous and, in some circles, scandalous founder of Planned Parenthood, who provided the sense of direction Mrs. May had craved. Mrs. Sanger was a close friend of her grandmother. Mrs. May acknowledged that it was not the birth control pioneer’s “works or ideals” that initially appealed to her but the fact that she had been jailed for her activities.

Mrs. May first worked for the Planned Parenthood chapter in Pittsburgh and later joined the board of the International Planned Parenthood Federation. “I have always admired and tried to take a part in the work that you started,” she wrote in a 1961 letter to Mrs. Sanger.

Mrs. May appeared to live relatively modestly, considering her means, but she kept a private jet nearby and flew around the world on nature expeditions. She was more comfortable banding birds at a wildlife sanctuary than hobnobbing at a cocktail party. She lived in the woods in Ligonier in a house she called Cold Comfort, after the satirical British novel “Cold Comfort Farm.” (The book’s heroine meddles in the lives of her distant rural relations and even counsels a servant about birth control.)

Her twin passions, protecting natural habitats and helping women prevent unplanned pregnancies, merged over time into a single goal of preserving the environment by discouraging offspring altogether. “The unwanted child is not the problem,” she would later write, “but, rather, the wanted one that society, for diverse cultural reasons, demands.”

May’s Foundation Supports Anti-Immigration Causes Above All Others

Colcom Foundation giving to anti-immigration and population-control groups dwarfed its giving to environmental and other causes.

Federation for American Immigration Reform
$56.7 million

NumbersUSA
$58.2 million

Center for Immigration Studies
$17.6 million

Western Pennsylvania Conservancy
$13.7 million

Carnegie Institute

Immigration & population control
$179.9 million

Environment
$76.3 million

Other
$55.4 million

Source: Colcom Foundation tax filings for fiscal years 2005-17. | By Weiyi Cai

For some of America’s elite in the 1960s and ’70s, supporting efforts to limit population growth was partly an act of noblesse oblige. The Fords donated millions for United Nations-backed family planning projects worldwide.

Mrs. May joined the board of the Population Council, a group founded by John D. Rockefeller III that emphasized family planning and economic development as ways to lower birthrates around the world. She and some relatives together contributed $11.4 million to the council during the 1960s, and Mrs. May joined the group’s president, Frank Notestein, on trips to Asia to review projects.

John D. Rockefeller III founded the Population Council, which advocated family planning. The group drew Mrs. May’s support, as a donor and board member, before her focus shifted toward immigration.CreditBachrach/Getty Images

Overpopulation became an even more mainstream concern in the United States after the runaway success of “The Population Bomb,” the 1968 book by the Stanford biologist Paul Ehrlich. After the enormous bulge of baby boomers, many Americans came to favor smaller families.

But a 1973 letter to the Population Council from Mrs. May’s office revealed her increasingly tough stance on population control. Contraceptives had made too little impact, the letter said.

“Although we are conscious of the highly sensitive nature of this subject,” it said, “we feel confident that the leadership position of the council in the population field can be used to greatly accelerate the availability of abortion services worldwide on an ‘abortion upon request’ basis.”

In August 1973, Mrs. May secretly remarried, this time to her childhood friend and longtime companion Robert W. Duggan, the district attorney in the county that includes Pittsburgh. The couple paid $5 for a justice of the peace in Nevada to wed them in a remote spot on Lake Tahoe.

Mrs. May secretly wed Robert W. Duggan, a Pennsylvania district attorney who was being investigated for corruption.CreditUnited Press International

When the marriage was disclosed, it made front-page news in Pittsburgh, in part because her new husband was fighting to stay out of prison amid a federal corruption probe. The swift nuptials had come between his appearances before a grand jury, and just days after Mrs. May was summoned by the Internal Revenue Service.

Six months later, Mr. Duggan was indicted for evading taxes on payoffs he received from an illegal gambling ring. The same day, he was found dead at his country house, apparently from a self-inflicted gunshot.

Mrs. May blamed her brother for turning on her husband. The siblings had long shared advisers, worked on charitable matters together and helped each other, but the rupture was so complete that they stopped speaking. The scandal and the ensuing tragedy in essence robbed Mrs. May of her two closest confidants.

Funeral proceedings for Mr. Duggan, who was found dead the day he was indicted.CreditBettmann Archive/Getty Images

In a letter to her fellow Pittsburgh-born heiress Helen Clay Frick, Mrs. May described how she had “wangled a cabin from a ranger in a remote canyon in Arizona,” where, she said, she had responded to nearly 2,500 condolence cards. She turned her attention to population meetings at an upcoming United Nations conference, which, she wryly concluded, would feature demands for wealth redistribution and “a thorough denunciation of the United States.”

By the end of the year, after more than two decades working with Planned Parenthood, she had resigned from the group. Two years later, her top aide delivered a stern message to Mr. Zeidenstein, the new president of the Population Council: Family planning and famine relief were a waste of money. Instead, “the U.S. should seal its border” with Mexico. According to a memo by Mr. Zeidenstein, Mrs. May’s views were becoming so radicalized that “one got the impression” she favored compulsory sterilization to limit birthrates in developing countries.

Mr. Rockefeller, taken aback by Mrs. May’s shift, wrote to her that he “had not been aware that differences of this seeming magnitude existed between us.” She responded that she would have severed ties sooner if not for her regard for him, and sent him the mission statement for a new group she had bankrolled, the Environmental Fund.

Buried in the document was a telling reference. “Immigration,” the statement said, “should also be brought into balance with emigration immediately.”

The Environmental Fund pushed mainstream concerns about overpopulation to the fringe and stoked opposition to immigration. Virginia Abernethy, a self-described “ethnic separatist” who became involved in the group, now called Population-Environment Balance, said in an interview that Mrs. May was “the first person who comes to mind” of those who pushed the population-control movement to oppose immigration.

“She funded a great deal of the original research,” said Ms. Abernethy, a retired Vanderbilt University professor who spoke last year at a white nationalist conference headlined by the former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke.

Through her work with the fund, the heiress struck up a close friendship with Garrett Hardin, a microbiologist and ecologist who argued that the modern welfare state encouraged overpopulation and ecological depletion. When Mrs. May sent him news clippings about riots in Los Angeles, Mr. Hardin responded that the media was finally seeing that “maybe the blacks are less than saintly” and lamented “the predominant Latinity of apprehended criminals” where he lived in California.

“The hope of the future,” he said, “lies in the intelligent practice of discrimination.”

She also met John Tanton, a charismatic eye doctor and environmentalist from Michigan, who would leverage Mrs. May’s financial resources to propel the budding anti-immigration movement forward.

Dr. John Tanton first wooed Mrs. May in the 1970s to fund the Federation for American Immigration Reform. Eventually, her money would nurture dozens of his anti-immigration groups.CreditAlan R. Kamuda/Detroit Free Press, via ZUMA

With the square-jawed good looks of a soap opera M.D., Dr. Tanton, who died last month at 85, worked with Planned Parenthood and the Sierra Club and was the national president of Zero Population Growth in the 1970s. As the Baby Boom ebbed, he turned his attention to curbing immigration.

In 1978, immigration surged: The Border Patrol apprehended 863,000 unauthorized immigrants, the most in over two decades. Another 601,000 legal immigrants also arrived, the greatest number since the 1924 immigration act. U.S. News & World Report published a cover story the next year sounding the alarm about chaos at the border with “illegal aliens.”

That November, Dr. Tanton wrote a nine-page proposal for funding from Mrs. May to start a group called the Federation for American Immigration Reform, or FAIR.

“We plan to make the restriction of immigration a legitimate position for thinking people,” he wrote. Mrs. May provided $50,000 to get the group off the ground.

FAIR’s early policy goals, some reflected decades later in proposals pursued by the Trump administration, called for not only an end to illegal immigration, but also a sharp reduction in legal migration. The group advocated increased funding and staffing for Border Patrol to police the southern frontier, campaigned against Cuban refugees and pushed to restrict public benefits for undocumented immigrants.

Dr. Tanton redoubled his attention to Mrs. May with flowery letters quoting Shakespeare, research into birds she was curious about and recommendations for a game ranch in Kenya. He invited her to a nature preserve in Michigan.

His internal memorandums betrayed the cold calculus behind his attentions. “Mrs. May has been our single biggest supporter. She just gave us another $400,000,” he wrote. “That relationship is pretty well under control.”

Patrick Burns, an early employee of FAIR who would often talk to Mrs. May at the group’s events, saw her as vulnerable. “She was isolated up in Ligonier and John was a predator who got inside her perimeter wire and basically found a source of money to fund the immigration reform movement,” he said in an interview. “John looked at Cordy as a buffalo to hunt and bone out for wealth.”

Mrs. May faced criticism even from within her family for the groups she supported. A young cousin asked whether her causes weren’t discriminatory, racist or, as Mrs. May recalled in a letter, “the one that really puts my teeth on edge … ‘elitist.’”

She produced a five-page typed response, rife with comments about Filipinos “pouring” into Hawaii and “Orientals and Indians” sneaking across “long stretches of unmanned border” with Canada.

She compared medical science’s success in reducing infant mortality rates to veterinarians prolonging the lives “of useless cattle.” Birthrates had dropped in a few areas, she noted, and millions died of starvation every year, but population growth rates continued to climb. “Even wars no longer make much dent; during 11 years of conflict, both North and South Vietnam showed a net increase in population,” she wrote.

Legal and illegal immigration led to overpopulation, she said, “the root cause of unemployment, inflation, urban sprawl, highway (and skyway) congestion, shortages of all sorts (not the least of which is energy), vanishing farmland, environmental deterioration and civil unrest.”

Mrs. May’s Laurel Foundation gave $5,000 to the Institute for Western Values to distribute a translation of the French dystopian novel “The Camp of the Saints” in the United States. The book, about an invasion of poor immigrants overwhelming Europe, is an essential text in white-nationalist circles and has often been cited by the former Trump adviser Steve Bannon. A subsequent English edition was published by the Social Contract Press, which was founded by Dr. Tanton and funded by Mrs. May’s foundation.

Mrs. May credited Dr. Tanton with helping her realize she could take a stand for her beliefs. “I used to think that you just had to take it,” she said during a 1985 visit to the offices of U.S. English, his initiative to make English the official language of the United States. “You don’t: You can organize and be active and do something about it.”

FAIR called for an end to illegal immigration and a sharp reduction in legal migration.CreditThe Michigan Daily/Bentley Historical Library

Internal FAIR documents show that her advisers played just such an active role in the development of Dr. Tanton’s growing network of groups. Mrs. May’s longtime adviser Gregory Curtis advocated splitting off FAIR’s research component, which became the Center for Immigration Studies in 1986. Dr. Tanton also broke off FAIR’s litigation arm, and continued founding or fostering new groups.

The move was “critical in not just hiding the sources of funding, but it allowed his creations to meet the I.R.S.’s so-called public support test,” which prevents charities from relying too heavily on a single donor, said Charles Kamasaki, a fellow at the Migration Policy Institute who has worked on the pro-immigration side of the issue. “Part of Tanton’s genius, and it really was genius, was creating these multiple shells,” he said.

The sheer number of groups nurtured with Mrs. May’s money — dozens over four decades — played an important role in the success of the anti-immigration movement by giving it the appearance of broad-based support. Groups would send representatives to appear before Congress, talk to journalists and provide briefs in lawsuits, without disclosing their common origins and funding.

When Dr. Tanton had trouble getting grass-roots support for an Arizona ballot initiative in 1988 to require government business to be conducted only in English, he turned to Mrs. May to pay canvassers. When he decided in the 1980s to host a gathering of a brain trust to strengthen the intellectual underpinnings of the movement, Mrs. May committed $15,000 a year and the use of her Gulfstream jet.

Among those who attended over the years were Richard Lamm, then governor of Colorado, who co-wrote a book called “The Immigration Time Bomb,” and Jared Taylor, a white nationalist who has argued that black people are less intelligent than other races.

Charges of consorting with racists helped push Dr. Tanton to the fringe of acceptable debate, after a private memo he wrote warning of a “Latin onslaught” became public. Dr. Tanton fell further out of favor when it emerged that FAIR had secretly accepted more than $1 million from the Pioneer Fund, a group that embraced eugenics.

Birds remained a passion of Mrs. May’s. When she died, she was remembered in the local press for, among other things, her support of Pittsburgh’s aviary.

But Mrs. May remained loyal. “John became the one who would carry her legacy forward the way a son or a daughter would,” said Mr. Conner, the former executive director of FAIR, who has been critical of the turn the group took. “John assured her what she believed in her life would carry on.”

In 1996, Mrs. May, then 68, established a new foundation, Colcom, to pursue her most important goals even after her death, including assisting charitable initiatives in Pittsburgh and western Pennsylvania, as well as cultural and environmental causes.

But environmental groups were “doomed to failure,” she wrote in her nonprofit application to the I.R.S., until they recognized “that the degradation of our natural world results ultimately from the press of human numbers.” In addition to stricter immigration, she supported “the study of human intelligence as it relates to schools and the workplace” and “research in the area of human differences,” she explained, echoing the language of the eugenics movement.

According to tax documents, Colcom has funded not only FAIR and other large organizations Mrs. May helped create, but also lesser-known ones like the American Immigration Control Foundation, which has likened immigration to a “military conquest” with the effect of “substantially replacing the native population”; the International Services Assistance Fund, whose focus is promoting chemical sterilization of women around the world; and VDare, a website that regularly publishes white nationalists and whose name is derived from Virginia Dare, the first child of English settlers born in the New World.

John Rohe, vice president for philanthropy at Colcom, said “it’s impossible for me to know what every recipient of a grant from Colcom puts out,” but that racial discrimination had no place in Colcom’s views on immigration.

“We should have a pro-immigrant, nonracial immigration policy,” said Mr. Rohe, who previously worked with Dr. Tanton before joining Colcom. “It should not be based on race. It’s only based on the numbers.”

Colcom has given generously to a group once run by Dr. Tanton called U.S. Inc. Largely using money from Mrs. May, U.S. Inc. has funded immigration-related groups in at least 18 states and the District of Columbia.

Mrs. May and the Tanton network

Since 2005, the Colcom Foundation has given more than $150 million to groups in John Tanton’s anti-immigration network. More than $17 million went to U.S. Inc.

Westlake Legal Group diagram-Artboard_1 Why an Heiress Spent Her Fortune Trying to Keep Immigrants Out Whites Tanton, John H Race and Ethnicity Population NumbersUSA May, Cordelia Scaife Immigration and Emigration Fringe Groups and Movements Federation for American Immigration Reform discrimination Colcom Foundation center for immigration studies

Cordelia Scaife May

John Tanton

Federation for

American

Immigration

Reform

California

Coalition for

Immigration

Reform

American

Immigration

Control

Foundation

American

Border

Patrol

Center for

Immigration

Studies

Californians for

Population

Stabilization

The Social

Contract

Press

U.S.

English

Numbers

USA

ProEnglish

ProjectUSA

Westlake Legal Group diagram-Artboard_3 Why an Heiress Spent Her Fortune Trying to Keep Immigrants Out Whites Tanton, John H Race and Ethnicity Population NumbersUSA May, Cordelia Scaife Immigration and Emigration Fringe Groups and Movements Federation for American Immigration Reform discrimination Colcom Foundation center for immigration studies

Cordelia Scaife May

John Tanton

Federation for

American

Immigration

Reform

American

Immigration

Control

Foundation

California

Coalition for

Immigration

Reform

Center for

Immigration

Studies

Californians for

Population

Stabilization

The Social

Contract

Press

American

Border

Patrol

U.S.

English

Numbers

USA

Project

USA

ProEnglish

Westlake Legal Group diagram-Artboard_4 Why an Heiress Spent Her Fortune Trying to Keep Immigrants Out Whites Tanton, John H Race and Ethnicity Population NumbersUSA May, Cordelia Scaife Immigration and Emigration Fringe Groups and Movements Federation for American Immigration Reform discrimination Colcom Foundation center for immigration studies

Federation for

American

Immigration

Reform

Tanton’s funding conduit

U.S. English

American

Immigration

Control

Foundation

Center for

Immigration

Studies

Californians for

Population

Stabilization

Cordelia

Scaife May

John

Tanton

The Social

Contract

Press

American

Border Patrol

ProEnglish

California

Coalition for

Immigration

Reform

NumbersUSA

ProjectUSA

Sources: Southern Poverty Law Center; Colcom Foundation tax filings for fiscal years 2005-17 | By Weiyi Cai

One of them was NumbersUSA, today the largest grass-roots organization in the country advocating reduced immigration. Its greatest success was helping to derail comprehensive immigration reform under President George W. Bush, by mobilizing supporters to flood their representatives with calls and faxes.

“Without them it would be a very different situation,” Roy Beck, the president of NumbersUSA, said of Colcom. “We’d be functioning at a very different level.”

NumbersUSA and the other main restrictionist groups funded by Mrs. May emphasize that they want stricter limits on immigration, but do not oppose all immigration. They reject any contention that prejudice or xenophobia motivates them. The Center for Immigration Studies sued the Southern Poverty Law Center for designating it a hate group, a label the law center has also applied to FAIR.

The nation’s failure to stop the Sept. 11 hijackers presented the anti-immigration groups with a powerful opportunity to link migration and security, driving a militarization of the border that continues to this day. From the rise of the Minutemen to the start of the Tea Party to the Trump presidency, the Tanton-May network has harnessed each surge of anti-immigration sentiment.

The main groups cultivated new allies in Congress, none stronger than Jeff Sessions, then a senator from Alabama, whose office served as an unofficial Capitol Hill headquarters for the restrictionist movement. Mr. Sessions, who later became attorney general in the Trump administration, hired as a spokesman Stephen Miller, who would give a keynote address at a Center for Immigration Studies event years later, in 2015, before joining the Trump campaign.

Stephen Miller, the architect of President Trump’s anti-immigration agenda, is a longtime ally of FAIR.CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

Though her money and activism seeded the political landscape for Mr. Trump’s nativist policies — he argues that “the country is full,” claims Mexicans are “dirty” and “dangerous” and immigrants are stealing jobs — the heiress would not see the Queens real estate heir ascend to the presidency. Mrs. May, who had pancreatic cancer, died at her home in 2005, at age 76. Her death was ruled a suicide by asphyxiation.

She left land on the island of Maui to the Nature Conservancy of Hawaii. Her Gulfstream jet was sold for $26.7 million. She was remembered in the local press for her devotion to the environment and family planning, her support of Pittsburgh’s aviary and her quixotic bequest to a donkey sanctuary in Devon, England. Her obituary in the local paper didn’t mention immigration at all.

Mrs. May left almost everything to the Colcom Foundation. In 2005, $215 million from her family trust poured into the foundation’s coffers, along with another $30 million from her personal estate. As her affairs were wound up, another $176 million transferred from her estate in 2006.

In all, since Mrs. May’s death, the anti-immigration groups have received $180 million. The market value of Colcom’s assets is $500 million, more than she bequeathed it in the first place.

The Colcom Foundation, based in Pittsburgh, has given $180 million to anti-immigration groups.CreditRoss Mantle for The New York Times

Thanks to her vast inherited fortune, Mrs. May’s ideas, and causes, survive her.

“The issues which I have supported during my lifetime have not been popular ones in many cases, nor do I anticipate that they will be so in the future,” Mrs. May wrote to Colcom’s board members in the group’s mission statement, calling on them “to exercise the courage of their convictions” after her death.

“The presence of controversy,” she said, “is often a certain sign that unexamined opinions are being challenged.”

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Why an Heiress Spent Her Fortune Trying to Keep Immigrants Out

She was an heiress without a cause — an indifferent student, an unhappy young bride, a miscast socialite. Her most enduring passion was for birds.

But Cordelia Scaife May eventually found her life’s purpose: curbing what she perceived as the lethal threat of overpopulation by trying to shut America’s doors to immigrants.

She believed that the United States was “being invaded on all fronts” by foreigners, who “breed like hamsters” and exhaust natural resources. She thought that the border with Mexico should be sealed and that abortions on demand would contain the swelling masses in developing countries.

An heiress to the Mellon banking and industrial fortune with a half-billion dollars at her disposal, Mrs. May helped create what would become the modern anti-immigration movement. She bankrolled the founding and operation of the nation’s three largest restrictionist groups — the Federation for American Immigration Reform, NumbersUSA and the Center for Immigration Studies — as well as dozens of smaller ones, including some that have promulgated white nationalist views.

How $180 Million of May’s Fortune Has Fueled the Anti-Immigration Movement

From 2005 to 2017, the Colcom Foundation gave millions to anti-immigration and population-control groups, some with close ties to the Trump administration.

Westlake Legal Group connectionupdate-Artboard_1 Why an Heiress Spent Her Fortune Trying to Keep Immigrants Out Whites Tanton, John H Race and Ethnicity Population NumbersUSA May, Cordelia Scaife Immigration and Emigration Fringe Groups and Movements Federation for American Immigration Reform discrimination Colcom Foundation center for immigration studies

Numbers USA Education & Research Foundation
$58.2 million
Federation for American Immigration Reform
$56.7 million
Center for Immigration Studies
$17.6 million
U.S. Inc.
$17.2 million
Immigration Reform Law Institute
$12.4 million
Californians for Population Stabilization
$7.8 million
Progressives for Immigration Reform
$3.3 million
American Immigration Control Foundation
$1.5 million
International Services Assistance Fund
$1.1 million
Population Media Center
$1.1 million
Migration Dialogue
$856k
Negative Population Growth
$550k
Conservative Caucus Research Analysis and Education Foundation
$450k
VDARE Foundation
$325k
Population Institute
$241k
American Border Patrol
$240k
Population Resource Center
$135k
Advocates for a Sustainable Albemarle Population
$100k
Planned Parenthood of Western Pennsylvania
$100k

Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions and current senior policy adviser Stephen Miller are longtime FAIR allies.

Californians for

Population

Stabilization

NumbersUSA

Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR)

$58.2 million

$56.7 million

$7.8 million

Miller was the keynote speaker at the CIS annual awards ceremony in 2015.

$17.2 million

Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI)

Center for Immigration

Studies (CIS)

$12.4 million

$17.6 million

Former FAIR director

Julie Kirchner now the

ombudsman of U.S.

Citizenship and

Immigration Services.

Kris Kobach, who led the president’s voter fraud commission, worked as a lawyer for IRLI.

Former CIS analyst Jon Feere is now

a senior adviser to Immigration and

Customs Enforcement.

Kellyanne Conway, the president’s counselor, conducted polling for these groups.

Westlake Legal Group connectionupdate-Artboard_4 Why an Heiress Spent Her Fortune Trying to Keep Immigrants Out Whites Tanton, John H Race and Ethnicity Population NumbersUSA May, Cordelia Scaife Immigration and Emigration Fringe Groups and Movements Federation for American Immigration Reform discrimination Colcom Foundation center for immigration studies

Numbers USA Education & Research Foundation
$58.2 million
Federation for American Immigration Reform
$56.7 million
Center for Immigration Studies
$17.6 million
U.S. Inc.
$17.2 million
Immigration Reform Law Institute
$12.4 million
Californians for Population Stabilization
$7.8 million
Progressives for Immigration Reform
$3.3 million
American Immigration Control Foundation
$1.5 million
International Services Assistance Fund
$1.1 million
Population Media Center
$1.1 million
Migration Dialogue
$856k
Negative Population Growth
$550k
Conservative Caucus Research Analysis and Education Foundation
$450k
VDARE Foundation
$325k
Population Institute
$241k
American Border Patrol
$240k
Population Resource Center
$135k
Advocates for a Sustainable Albemarle Population
$100k
Planned Parenthood of Western Pennsylvania
$100k

Kris Kobach, who led the president’s voter fraud commission, worked as a lawyer for IRLI.

NumbersUSA

$58.2 million

Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI)

$12.4 million

$17.2 million

Kellyanne Conway, the president’s counselor, conducted polling for these groups.

Californians for

Population

Stabilization

$7.8 million

Center for Immigration

Studies (CIS)

$17.6 million

Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR)

Former CIS analyst Jon

Feere is now a senior

adviser to Immigration and

Customs Enforcement.

$56.7 million

Former FAIR director

Julie Kirchner now the

ombudsman of U.S.

Citizenship and

Immigration Services.

Miller was the keynote speaker at the CIS annual awards ceremony in 2015.

Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions and current senior policy adviser Stephen Miller are longtime FAIR allies.

Westlake Legal Group connectionupdate-Artboard_5 Why an Heiress Spent Her Fortune Trying to Keep Immigrants Out Whites Tanton, John H Race and Ethnicity Population NumbersUSA May, Cordelia Scaife Immigration and Emigration Fringe Groups and Movements Federation for American Immigration Reform discrimination Colcom Foundation center for immigration studies

Numbers USA Education & Research Foundation
$58.2 million
Federation for American Immigration Reform
$56.7 million
Center for Immigration Studies
$17.6 million
U.S. Inc.
$17.2 million
Immigration Reform Law Institute
$12.4 million
Californians for Population Stabilization
$7.8 million
Progressives for Immigration Reform
$3.3 million
American Immigration Control Foundation
$1.5 million
International Services Assistance Fund
$1.1 million
Population Media Center
$1.1 million
Migration Dialogue
$856k
Negative Population Growth
$550k
Conservative Caucus Research Analysis and Education Foundation
$450k
VDARE Foundation
$325k
Population Institute
$241k
American Border Patrol
$240k
Population Resource Center
$135k
Advocates for a Sustainable Albemarle Population
$100k
Planned Parenthood of Western Pennsylvania
$100k

Kellyanne Conway, the president’s counselor, conducted polling for these groups.

NumbersUSA

$58.2 million

Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI)

$12.4 million

$17.2 million

Californians for

Population

Stabilization

$7.8 million

Center for Immigration

Studies (CIS)

$17.6 million

Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR)

$56.7 million

Miller was the keynote speaker at the CIS annual awards ceremony in 2015.

Former FAIR director Julie Kirchner now the ombudsman of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions and current senior policy adviser Stephen Miller are longtime FAIR allies.

Westlake Legal Group connectionupdate-Artboard_6 Why an Heiress Spent Her Fortune Trying to Keep Immigrants Out Whites Tanton, John H Race and Ethnicity Population NumbersUSA May, Cordelia Scaife Immigration and Emigration Fringe Groups and Movements Federation for American Immigration Reform discrimination Colcom Foundation center for immigration studies

Numbers USA Education & Research Foundation
$58.2 million
Federation for American Immigration Reform
$56.7 million
Center for Immigration Studies
$17.6 million
U.S. Inc.
$17.2 million
Immigration Reform Law Institute
$12.4 million
Californians for Population Stabilization
$7.8 million
Progressives for Immigration Reform
$3.3 million
American Immigration Control Foundation
$1.5 million
International Services Assistance Fund
$1.1 million
Population Media Center
$1.1 million
Migration Dialogue
$856k
Negative Population Growth
$550k
Conservative Caucus Research Analysis and Education Foundation
$450k
VDARE Foundation
$325k
Population Institute
$241k
American Border Patrol
$240k
Population Resource Center
$135k
Advocates for a Sustainable Albemarle Population
$100k
Planned Parenthood of Western Pennsylvania
$100k

Kellyanne Conway, the president’s counselor, conducted polling for these groups.

NumbersUSA

$58.2 million

$17.2 million

Center for Immigration

Studies (CIS)

$17.6 million

Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR)

$56.7 million

Former FAIR director

Julie Kirchner now the

ombudsman of U.S.

Citizenship and

Immigration Services.

Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions and current senior policy adviser Stephen Miller are longtime FAIR allies.

Source: Colcom Foundation tax filings for fiscal years 2005-17 | By Weiyi Cai

Mrs. May’s story helps explain the ascendance of once-fringe views in the debate over immigration in America, including exaggerated claims of criminality, disease or dependency on public benefits among migrants. Though their methods radically diverged, Mrs. May and the killer in the recent mass shooting in El Paso applied the same language, both warning of an immigrant “invasion,” an idea also promoted by Mr. Trump.

In many ways, the Trump presidency is the culmination of Mrs. May’s vision for strictly limiting immigration. Groups that she funded shared policy proposals with Mr. Trump’s campaign, sent key staff members to join his administration and have close ties to Stephen Miller, the architect of his immigration agenda to upend practices adopted by his Democratic and Republican predecessors.

[Read how Stephen Miller rode an anti-immigration wave to the White House.]

“She would have fit in very fine in the current White House,” said George Zeidenstein, whose mainstream population-control group Mrs. May supported before she shifted to anti-immigration advocacy. “She would have found a sympathetic ear with the present occupant.”

Unlike her more famous brother, the right-wing philanthropist and publisher Richard Mellon Scaife, Mrs. May largely stayed out of the public eye. A childless widow who lived alone outside Pittsburgh, she instructed associates not to reveal her philanthropic interests and in some cases even to destroy her correspondence. While her unlikely role as the quiet bursar to anti-immigration organizations has been previously reported, her motivation and engagement in the immigration issue remained largely hidden.

The New York Times, through dozens of interviews and searches of court records, government filings and archives across the country, has unearthed the most complete record of her thinking. Mrs. May’s unpublished writings reveal her evolution from an environmental-minded Theodore Roosevelt Republican — in 1972 she was the nation’s largest single donor to mainstream congressional candidates — to an ardent nativist. Her ideological transformation presaged the Republican Party’s own shift from blue-blooded, traditional conservatism toward hard-right populism.

Chatty, handwritten notes to John D. Rockefeller III, the philanthropist Helen Clay Frick and the head of the National Audubon Society about luncheons and overseas trips gradually gave way over the years to darker exchanges with fringe figures who believed that black people were less intelligent than white people, Latino immigrants were criminals and white Americans were being displaced.

But Mrs. May disputed the notion that she was racist, writing to a grant recipient in November 1994, “Can we not put imaginary paper bags over the immigrants’ heads, see them as colorless consumers, and count only their deleterious numbers?”

Restrictionist groups she financed have blocked attempts at amnesties and immigration reform bills in Congress over the years. They fought for Proposition 187 in California to deny education, routine health care and other public services to undocumented immigrants; they argued against in-state tuition for the children of undocumented workers in Utah. They supported “show me your papers” laws in Arizona and Georgia and draconian local ordinances in Hazleton, Pa., and Farmers Branch, Tex.

“We occupied the space before anybody, and the people who helped found the organization and fund the organization, including Mrs. May, were people of enormous foresight and wisdom,” said Dan Stein, president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, who knew Mrs. May. “They would be gratified over the fact that we’ve seen these ideas championed at the highest level.”

The groups have wasted little time seizing the moment since Donald Trump came to the White House. As Mr. Stein’s organization, known as FAIR, put it in a federal tax filing last year, Mr. Trump’s election presented “a unique opportunity” to enact its longstanding agenda of “building the wall, ending chain migration, rolling back dangerous sanctuary policies, eliminating the visa lottery” and more.

Nowhere in the document is the name of its largest benefactor ever mentioned.

“Without Cordy May, there’s no FAIR,” said Roger Conner, the organization’s first executive director. “There was no money without her.”

Mrs. May’s immigration activism began in the 1970s, when the numbers of legal and illegal arrivals in the country were reaching heights unseen in decades. But she grew up during a period with the lowest levels of immigration in a century (and lower than any period since), thanks to a 1924 law that imposed strict quotas favoring Western European migrants. Her family lived in a part of the picturesque Ligonier Valley, outside Pittsburgh, that was more than 99 percent white when she was a child.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_158614626_5489deac-18b1-454c-85bb-02441015f2d8-articleLarge Why an Heiress Spent Her Fortune Trying to Keep Immigrants Out Whites Tanton, John H Race and Ethnicity Population NumbersUSA May, Cordelia Scaife Immigration and Emigration Fringe Groups and Movements Federation for American Immigration Reform discrimination Colcom Foundation center for immigration studies

Born into a privileged life with servants, exotic pets and lavish vacations, Cordelia Mellon Scaife was thought to be perhaps the world’s “richest baby.”CreditCarnegie Library of Pittsburgh

When the first photographs of an infant Cordelia Mellon Scaife appeared in newspapers across the country, she was heralded as potentially “the richest baby in the world.” Her life would be one of privilege: Her family vacationed in St. Moritz, Switzerland, and in Palm Beach, Fla., their movements tracked in society columns.

Young Cordy grew up in a stately Cotswold-style manor, staffed with servants, known as Penguin Court. Her eccentric mother, Sarah Mellon Scaife, tried to breed emperor penguins to waddle the grounds after the craze over Adm. Richard E. Byrd’s Antarctic expeditions.

But Mrs. Scaife, a sharp-tongued art collector, was an alcoholic and her daughter later described her youth as largely miserable. A friend of her parents, the dancer-actor Fred Astaire, tried to help her get discovered in Hollywood when she was 19 but her trip was ill timed. “The only star around was Lassie,” she remarked to an author, Burton Hersh, writing about the Mellon family.

Cordelia, right, with her mother, Sarah Mellon Scaife, and her brother, Richard, described her childhood as largely miserable.CreditCarnegie Library of Pittsburgh

After a marriage at age 20 that lasted just a few months, Mrs. May joined in the family tradition of philanthropy. Her mother had provided funding for Dr. Jonas Salk’s lab at the University of Pittsburgh, where he developed the polio vaccine. Mrs. May became active in local charities, including a children’s health center and a school for the blind, and started the Laurel Foundation in 1951, when she was 23, to channel her giving. She also donated to Republican candidates, both local and national.

But it was Margaret Sanger, the famous and, in some circles, scandalous founder of Planned Parenthood, who provided the sense of direction Mrs. May had craved. Mrs. Sanger was a close friend of her grandmother. Mrs. May acknowledged that it was not the birth control pioneer’s “works or ideals” that initially appealed to her but the fact that she had been jailed for her activities.

Mrs. May first worked for the Planned Parenthood chapter in Pittsburgh and later joined the board of the International Planned Parenthood Federation. “I have always admired and tried to take a part in the work that you started,” she wrote in a 1961 letter to Mrs. Sanger.

Mrs. May appeared to live relatively modestly, considering her means, but she kept a private jet nearby and flew around the world on nature expeditions. She was more comfortable banding birds at a wildlife sanctuary than hobnobbing at a cocktail party. She lived in the woods in Ligonier in a house she called Cold Comfort, after the satirical British novel “Cold Comfort Farm.” (The book’s heroine meddles in the lives of her distant rural relations and even counsels a servant about birth control.)

Her twin passions, protecting natural habitats and helping women prevent unplanned pregnancies, merged over time into a single goal of preserving the environment by discouraging offspring altogether. “The unwanted child is not the problem,” she would later write, “but, rather, the wanted one that society, for diverse cultural reasons, demands.”

May’s Foundation Supports Anti-Immigration Causes Above All Others

Colcom Foundation giving to anti-immigration and population-control groups dwarfed its giving to environmental and other causes.

Federation for American Immigration Reform
$56.7 million

NumbersUSA
$58.2 million

Center for Immigration Studies
$17.6 million

Western Pennsylvania Conservancy
$13.7 million

Carnegie Institute

Immigration & population control
$179.9 million

Environment
$76.3 million

Other
$55.4 million

Source: Colcom Foundation tax filings for fiscal years 2005-17. | By Weiyi Cai

For some of America’s elite in the 1960s and ’70s, supporting efforts to limit population growth was partly an act of noblesse oblige. The Fords donated millions for United Nations-backed family planning projects worldwide.

Mrs. May joined the board of the Population Council, a group founded by John D. Rockefeller III that emphasized family planning and economic development as ways to lower birthrates around the world. She and some relatives together contributed $11.4 million to the council during the 1960s, and Mrs. May joined the group’s president, Frank Notestein, on trips to Asia to review projects.

John D. Rockefeller III founded the Population Council, which advocated family planning. The group drew Mrs. May’s support, as a donor and board member, before her focus shifted toward immigration.CreditBachrach/Getty Images

Overpopulation became an even more mainstream concern in the United States after the runaway success of “The Population Bomb,” the 1968 book by the Stanford biologist Paul Ehrlich. After the enormous bulge of baby boomers, many Americans came to favor smaller families.

But a 1973 letter to the Population Council from Mrs. May’s office revealed her increasingly tough stance on population control. Contraceptives had made too little impact, the letter said.

“Although we are conscious of the highly sensitive nature of this subject,” it said, “we feel confident that the leadership position of the council in the population field can be used to greatly accelerate the availability of abortion services worldwide on an ‘abortion upon request’ basis.”

In August 1973, Mrs. May secretly remarried, this time to her childhood friend and longtime companion Robert W. Duggan, the district attorney in the county that includes Pittsburgh. The couple paid $5 for a justice of the peace in Nevada to wed them in a remote spot on Lake Tahoe.

Mrs. May secretly wed Robert W. Duggan, a Pennsylvania district attorney who was being investigated for corruption.CreditUnited Press International

When the marriage was disclosed, it made front-page news in Pittsburgh, in part because her new husband was fighting to stay out of prison amid a federal corruption probe. The swift nuptials had come between his appearances before a grand jury, and just days after Mrs. May was summoned by the Internal Revenue Service.

Six months later, Mr. Duggan was indicted for evading taxes on payoffs he received from an illegal gambling ring. The same day, he was found dead at his country house, apparently from a self-inflicted gunshot.

Mrs. May blamed her brother for turning on her husband. The siblings had long shared advisers, worked on charitable matters together and helped each other, but the rupture was so complete that they stopped speaking. The scandal and the ensuing tragedy in essence robbed Mrs. May of her two closest confidants.

Funeral proceedings for Mr. Duggan, who was found dead the day he was indicted.CreditBettmann Archive/Getty Images

In a letter to her fellow Pittsburgh-born heiress Helen Clay Frick, Mrs. May described how she had “wangled a cabin from a ranger in a remote canyon in Arizona,” where, she said, she had responded to nearly 2,500 condolence cards. She turned her attention to population meetings at an upcoming United Nations conference, which, she wryly concluded, would feature demands for wealth redistribution and “a thorough denunciation of the United States.”

By the end of the year, after more than two decades working with Planned Parenthood, she had resigned from the group. Two years later, her top aide delivered a stern message to Mr. Zeidenstein, the new president of the Population Council: Family planning and famine relief were a waste of money. Instead, “the U.S. should seal its border” with Mexico. According to a memo by Mr. Zeidenstein, Mrs. May’s views were becoming so radicalized that “one got the impression” she favored compulsory sterilization to limit birthrates in developing countries.

Mr. Rockefeller, taken aback by Mrs. May’s shift, wrote to her that he “had not been aware that differences of this seeming magnitude existed between us.” She responded that she would have severed ties sooner if not for her regard for him, and sent him the mission statement for a new group she had bankrolled, the Environmental Fund.

Buried in the document was a telling reference. “Immigration,” the statement said, “should also be brought into balance with emigration immediately.”

The Environmental Fund pushed mainstream concerns about overpopulation to the fringe and stoked opposition to immigration. Virginia Abernethy, a self-described “ethnic separatist” who became involved in the group, now called Population-Environment Balance, said in an interview that Mrs. May was “the first person who comes to mind” of those who pushed the population-control movement to oppose immigration.

“She funded a great deal of the original research,” said Ms. Abernethy, a retired Vanderbilt University professor who spoke last year at a white nationalist conference headlined by the former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke.

Through her work with the fund, the heiress struck up a close friendship with Garrett Hardin, a microbiologist and ecologist who argued that the modern welfare state encouraged overpopulation and ecological depletion. When Mrs. May sent him news clippings about riots in Los Angeles, Mr. Hardin responded that the media was finally seeing that “maybe the blacks are less than saintly” and lamented “the predominant Latinity of apprehended criminals” where he lived in California.

“The hope of the future,” he said, “lies in the intelligent practice of discrimination.”

She also met John Tanton, a charismatic eye doctor and environmentalist from Michigan, who would leverage Mrs. May’s financial resources to propel the budding anti-immigration movement forward.

Dr. John Tanton first wooed Mrs. May in the 1970s to fund the Federation for American Immigration Reform. Eventually, her money would nurture dozens of his anti-immigration groups.CreditAlan R. Kamuda/Detroit Free Press, via ZUMA

With the square-jawed good looks of a soap opera M.D., Dr. Tanton, who died last month at 85, worked with Planned Parenthood and the Sierra Club and was the national president of Zero Population Growth in the 1970s. As the Baby Boom ebbed, he turned his attention to curbing immigration.

In 1978, immigration surged: The Border Patrol apprehended 863,000 unauthorized immigrants, the most in over two decades. Another 601,000 legal immigrants also arrived, the greatest number since the 1924 immigration act. U.S. News & World Report published a cover story the next year sounding the alarm about chaos at the border with “illegal aliens.”

That November, Dr. Tanton wrote a nine-page proposal for funding from Mrs. May to start a group called the Federation for American Immigration Reform, or FAIR.

“We plan to make the restriction of immigration a legitimate position for thinking people,” he wrote. Mrs. May provided $50,000 to get the group off the ground.

FAIR’s early policy goals, some reflected decades later in proposals pursued by the Trump administration, called for not only an end to illegal immigration, but also a sharp reduction in legal migration. The group advocated increased funding and staffing for Border Patrol to police the southern frontier, campaigned against Cuban refugees and pushed to restrict public benefits for undocumented immigrants.

Dr. Tanton redoubled his attention to Mrs. May with flowery letters quoting Shakespeare, research into birds she was curious about and recommendations for a game ranch in Kenya. He invited her to a nature preserve in Michigan.

His internal memorandums betrayed the cold calculus behind his attentions. “Mrs. May has been our single biggest supporter. She just gave us another $400,000,” he wrote. “That relationship is pretty well under control.”

Patrick Burns, an early employee of FAIR who would often talk to Mrs. May at the group’s events, saw her as vulnerable. “She was isolated up in Ligonier and John was a predator who got inside her perimeter wire and basically found a source of money to fund the immigration reform movement,” he said in an interview. “John looked at Cordy as a buffalo to hunt and bone out for wealth.”

Mrs. May faced criticism even from within her family for the groups she supported. A young cousin asked whether her causes weren’t discriminatory, racist or, as Mrs. May recalled in a letter, “the one that really puts my teeth on edge … ‘elitist.’”

She produced a five-page typed response, rife with comments about Filipinos “pouring” into Hawaii and “Orientals and Indians” sneaking across “long stretches of unmanned border” with Canada.

She compared medical science’s success in reducing infant mortality rates to veterinarians prolonging the lives “of useless cattle.” Birthrates had dropped in a few areas, she noted, and millions died of starvation every year, but population growth rates continued to climb. “Even wars no longer make much dent; during 11 years of conflict, both North and South Vietnam showed a net increase in population,” she wrote.

Legal and illegal immigration led to overpopulation, she said, “the root cause of unemployment, inflation, urban sprawl, highway (and skyway) congestion, shortages of all sorts (not the least of which is energy), vanishing farmland, environmental deterioration and civil unrest.”

Mrs. May’s Laurel Foundation gave $5,000 to the Institute for Western Values to distribute a translation of the French dystopian novel “The Camp of the Saints” in the United States. The book, about an invasion of poor immigrants overwhelming Europe, is an essential text in white-nationalist circles and has often been cited by the former Trump adviser Steve Bannon. A subsequent English edition was published by the Social Contract Press, which was founded by Dr. Tanton and funded by Mrs. May’s foundation.

Mrs. May credited Dr. Tanton with helping her realize she could take a stand for her beliefs. “I used to think that you just had to take it,” she said during a 1985 visit to the offices of U.S. English, his initiative to make English the official language of the United States. “You don’t: You can organize and be active and do something about it.”

FAIR called for an end to illegal immigration and a sharp reduction in legal migration.CreditThe Michigan Daily/Bentley Historical Library

Internal FAIR documents show that her advisers played just such an active role in the development of Dr. Tanton’s growing network of groups. Mrs. May’s longtime adviser Gregory Curtis advocated splitting off FAIR’s research component, which became the Center for Immigration Studies in 1986. Dr. Tanton also broke off FAIR’s litigation arm, and continued founding or fostering new groups.

The move was “critical in not just hiding the sources of funding, but it allowed his creations to meet the I.R.S.’s so-called public support test,” which prevents charities from relying too heavily on a single donor, said Charles Kamasaki, a fellow at the Migration Policy Institute who has worked on the pro-immigration side of the issue. “Part of Tanton’s genius, and it really was genius, was creating these multiple shells,” he said.

The sheer number of groups nurtured with Mrs. May’s money — dozens over four decades — played an important role in the success of the anti-immigration movement by giving it the appearance of broad-based support. Groups would send representatives to appear before Congress, talk to journalists and provide briefs in lawsuits, without disclosing their common origins and funding.

When Dr. Tanton had trouble getting grass-roots support for an Arizona ballot initiative in 1988 to require government business to be conducted only in English, he turned to Mrs. May to pay canvassers. When he decided in the 1980s to host a gathering of a brain trust to strengthen the intellectual underpinnings of the movement, Mrs. May committed $15,000 a year and the use of her Gulfstream jet.

Among those who attended over the years were Richard Lamm, then governor of Colorado, who co-wrote a book called “The Immigration Time Bomb,” and Jared Taylor, a white nationalist who has argued that black people are less intelligent than other races.

Charges of consorting with racists helped push Dr. Tanton to the fringe of acceptable debate, after a private memo he wrote warning of a “Latin onslaught” became public. Dr. Tanton fell further out of favor when it emerged that FAIR had secretly accepted more than $1 million from the Pioneer Fund, a group that embraced eugenics.

Birds remained a passion of Mrs. May’s. When she died, she was remembered in the local press for, among other things, her support of Pittsburgh’s aviary.

But Mrs. May remained loyal. “John became the one who would carry her legacy forward the way a son or a daughter would,” said Mr. Conner, the former executive director of FAIR, who has been critical of the turn the group took. “John assured her what she believed in her life would carry on.”

In 1996, Mrs. May, then 68, established a new foundation, Colcom, to pursue her most important goals even after her death, including assisting charitable initiatives in Pittsburgh and western Pennsylvania, as well as cultural and environmental causes.

But environmental groups were “doomed to failure,” she wrote in her nonprofit application to the I.R.S., until they recognized “that the degradation of our natural world results ultimately from the press of human numbers.” In addition to stricter immigration, she supported “the study of human intelligence as it relates to schools and the workplace” and “research in the area of human differences,” she explained, echoing the language of the eugenics movement.

According to tax documents, Colcom has funded not only FAIR and other large organizations Mrs. May helped create, but also lesser-known ones like the American Immigration Control Foundation, which has likened immigration to a “military conquest” with the effect of “substantially replacing the native population”; the International Services Assistance Fund, whose focus is promoting chemical sterilization of women around the world; and VDare, a website that regularly publishes white nationalists and whose name is derived from Virginia Dare, the first child of English settlers born in the New World.

John Rohe, vice president for philanthropy at Colcom, said “it’s impossible for me to know what every recipient of a grant from Colcom puts out,” but that racial discrimination had no place in Colcom’s views on immigration.

“We should have a pro-immigrant, nonracial immigration policy,” said Mr. Rohe, who previously worked with Dr. Tanton before joining Colcom. “It should not be based on race. It’s only based on the numbers.”

Colcom has given generously to a group once run by Dr. Tanton called U.S. Inc. Largely using money from Mrs. May, U.S. Inc. has funded immigration-related groups in at least 18 states and the District of Columbia.

Mrs. May and the Tanton network

Since 2005, the Colcom Foundation has given more than $150 million to groups in John Tanton’s anti-immigration network. More than $17 million went to U.S. Inc.

Westlake Legal Group diagram-Artboard_1 Why an Heiress Spent Her Fortune Trying to Keep Immigrants Out Whites Tanton, John H Race and Ethnicity Population NumbersUSA May, Cordelia Scaife Immigration and Emigration Fringe Groups and Movements Federation for American Immigration Reform discrimination Colcom Foundation center for immigration studies

Cordelia Scaife May

John Tanton

Federation for

American

Immigration

Reform

California

Coalition for

Immigration

Reform

American

Immigration

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American

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Center for

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Californians for

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Press

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ProjectUSA

Westlake Legal Group diagram-Artboard_3 Why an Heiress Spent Her Fortune Trying to Keep Immigrants Out Whites Tanton, John H Race and Ethnicity Population NumbersUSA May, Cordelia Scaife Immigration and Emigration Fringe Groups and Movements Federation for American Immigration Reform discrimination Colcom Foundation center for immigration studies

Cordelia Scaife May

John Tanton

Federation for

American

Immigration

Reform

American

Immigration

Control

Foundation

California

Coalition for

Immigration

Reform

Center for

Immigration

Studies

Californians for

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Westlake Legal Group diagram-Artboard_4 Why an Heiress Spent Her Fortune Trying to Keep Immigrants Out Whites Tanton, John H Race and Ethnicity Population NumbersUSA May, Cordelia Scaife Immigration and Emigration Fringe Groups and Movements Federation for American Immigration Reform discrimination Colcom Foundation center for immigration studies

Federation for

American

Immigration

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Tanton’s funding conduit

U.S. English

American

Immigration

Control

Foundation

Center for

Immigration

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Californians for

Population

Stabilization

Cordelia

Scaife May

John

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NumbersUSA

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Sources: Southern Poverty Law Center; Colcom Foundation tax filings for fiscal years 2005-17 | By Weiyi Cai

One of them was NumbersUSA, today the largest grass-roots organization in the country advocating reduced immigration. Its greatest success was helping to derail comprehensive immigration reform under President George W. Bush, by mobilizing supporters to flood their representatives with calls and faxes.

“Without them it would be a very different situation,” Roy Beck, the president of NumbersUSA, said of Colcom. “We’d be functioning at a very different level.”

NumbersUSA and the other main restrictionist groups funded by Mrs. May emphasize that they want stricter limits on immigration, but do not oppose all immigration. They reject any contention that prejudice or xenophobia motivates them. The Center for Immigration Studies sued the Southern Poverty Law Center for designating it a hate group, a label the law center has also applied to FAIR.

The nation’s failure to stop the Sept. 11 hijackers presented the anti-immigration groups with a powerful opportunity to link migration and security, driving a militarization of the border that continues to this day. From the rise of the Minutemen to the start of the Tea Party to the Trump presidency, the Tanton-May network has harnessed each surge of anti-immigration sentiment.

The main groups cultivated new allies in Congress, none stronger than Jeff Sessions, then a senator from Alabama, whose office served as an unofficial Capitol Hill headquarters for the restrictionist movement. Mr. Sessions, who later became attorney general in the Trump administration, hired as a spokesman Stephen Miller, who would give a keynote address at a Center for Immigration Studies event years later, in 2015, before joining the Trump campaign.

Stephen Miller, the architect of President Trump’s anti-immigration agenda, is a longtime ally of FAIR.CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

Though her money and activism seeded the political landscape for Mr. Trump’s nativist policies — he argues that “the country is full,” claims Mexicans are “dirty” and “dangerous” and immigrants are stealing jobs — the heiress would not see the Queens real estate heir ascend to the presidency. Mrs. May, who had pancreatic cancer, died at her home in 2005, at age 76. Her death was ruled a suicide by asphyxiation.

She left land on the island of Maui to the Nature Conservancy of Hawaii. Her Gulfstream jet was sold for $26.7 million. She was remembered in the local press for her devotion to the environment and family planning, her support of Pittsburgh’s aviary and her quixotic bequest to a donkey sanctuary in Devon, England. Her obituary in the local paper didn’t mention immigration at all.

Mrs. May left almost everything to the Colcom Foundation. In 2005, $215 million from her family trust poured into the foundation’s coffers, along with another $30 million from her personal estate. As her affairs were wound up, another $176 million transferred from her estate in 2006.

In all, since Mrs. May’s death, the anti-immigration groups have received $180 million. The market value of Colcom’s assets is $500 million, more than she bequeathed it in the first place.

The Colcom Foundation, based in Pittsburgh, has given $180 million to anti-immigration groups.CreditRoss Mantle for The New York Times

Thanks to her vast inherited fortune, Mrs. May’s ideas, and causes, survive her.

“The issues which I have supported during my lifetime have not been popular ones in many cases, nor do I anticipate that they will be so in the future,” Mrs. May wrote to Colcom’s board members in the group’s mission statement, calling on them “to exercise the courage of their convictions” after her death.

“The presence of controversy,” she said, “is often a certain sign that unexamined opinions are being challenged.”

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Justice Dept. Reverses Course on Citizenship Question on Census, Citing Trump’s Orders

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WASHINGTON — A day after pledging that the 2020 census would not ask respondents about their citizenship, Justice Department officials reversed course on Wednesday and said they were hunting for a way to restore the question on orders from President Trump.

The contentious issue of whether next year’s all-important head count would include a citizenship question appeared to be settled — until the president began vowing on Twitter Wednesday that the administration was “absolutely moving forward” with plans, despite logistical and legal barriers.

President Trump’s comments prompted a chaotic chain of events, with senior census planners closeted in emergency meetings and the Justice Department summoned to a phone conference with a federal judge in Maryland to explain itself.

On Wednesday afternoon, Justice Department officials told the judge that their plan had changed in the span of 24 hours: They now believed there could be “a legally available path” to restore the question to the census, and they planned to ask the Supreme Court to help speed the resolution of lawsuits that are blocking their way.

The reversal sends the future of the census — which is used to determine the distribution of congressional seats and federal dollars — back into uncertain territory.

The Supreme Court last week rejected the administration’s stated reason for adding the citizenship question as contrived. But Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., writing for the majority, left open the chance the administration could offer an adequate rationale.

Faced with tight printing deadlines, administration officials said on Tuesday that it was time to abandon the effort and begin printing forms this week that do not contain the citizenship question.

Justice Department lawyers told United States District Judge George J. Hazel in a telephone conference that a decision to eliminate the question from census forms had been made “for once and for all.” Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, whose department oversees the Census Bureau, issued a separate statement accepting the outcome.

But a day later, an extraordinary scene played out on a conference phone call between Judge Hazel and Justice Department officials, who appeared to be blindsided by the president’s comments online.

On Wednesday afternoon, Judge Hazel opened the call by saying that President Trump’s tweet had gotten his attention. “I don’t know how many federal judges have Twitter accounts, but I happen to be one of them, and I follow the President,” he said.

Joshua Gardner, a Justice Department special counsel for executive branch litigation, responded: “The tweet this morning was the first I had heard of the President’s position on this issue, just like the plaintiffs and Your Honor.”

He added: “I do not have a deeper understanding of what that means at this juncture other than what the President has tweeted. But, obviously, as you can imagine, I am doing my absolute best to figure out what’s going on.”

Mr. Gardner said that printing of census forms without the citizenship question was continuing, and that federal court rulings barring its inclusion, upheld in part by the Supreme Court, were still in force. But he added that he could not promise that would remain the case.

“This is a fluid situation and perhaps that might change,” he said, “but we’re just not there yet, and I can’t possibly predict at this juncture what exactly is going to happen.”

That seemed an apt summation of the entire census process, which has lurched from lawsuit to crisis and back since the citizenship issue arose, and seemed on the verge of being upended on Wednesday.

Looming over the latest disruptions was a July 1 deadline to begin printing 2020 census materials — a deadline that the Justice Department said could not be stretched without imperiling the schedule for the census itself.

Since Mr. Ross tacked the citizenship question onto the census in March 2018, long after other aspects of the questionnaire had been settled, the Census Bureau has been at the center of a ferocious partisan battle over the 2020 head count, its carefully tended reputation for trustworthiness and political impartiality all but shredded.

An army of critics, from cities and states to ethnic and civil-rights advocates, have argued that the question is an ill-disguised effort to skew the census’s results to the benefit of the Republican Party. That was only reinforced by the disclosure last month of a 2015 study by a Republican strategist, Thomas B. Hofeller, that explained how data from a citizenship question could be used to exclude noncitizens from the populations bases used in redistricting. The newly drawn districts, he wrote, would tilt toward non-Hispanic whites and Republicans and hobble representation of Hispanics and Democrats.

Mr. Hofeller, who died last year, was the first person to urge President-elect Trump’s transition team in 2016 to add the question to the 2020 head count. Three separate federal courts — in New York, Maryland and California — have ruled that the Commerce Department violated federal procedural law and the Constitution in tacking the question onto the census, calling the department’s rationale — to improve enforcement of the Voting Rights Act — an obvious cover for some other motive.

On Wednesday, Judge Hazel ratcheted up the pressure on the administration to make up its mind, ordering the Trump administration either to confirm by Friday afternoon that it was not placing the citizenship question on the census questionnaire, or offer a schedule for continuing the Maryland lawsuit.

“Given that tomorrow is the Fourth of July and the difficulty of assembling people from all over the place, is it possible that we could do this on Monday?” Mr. Gardner asked.

“No,” the judge replied. “I’ve been told different things, and it’s becoming increasingly frustrating.”

As Judge Hazel spoke with the two sides in the Maryland case, the federal district judge overseeing the New York lawsuit ordered the Justice Department to update him on those discussions so he could decide whether to schedule a similar conference in that suit.

On Wednesday afternoon, White House officials were actively working on a way to satisfy Mr. Trump’s demand but had not yet settled on a solution.

The Justice Department ultimately acted under pressure from President Trump, who had reacted angrily to the Supreme Court’s handling of the census case and insisted that his administration move forward despite the court’s ruling. Mr. Trump had blamed Wilbur Ross, the secretary of commerce, in particular of the handling of the census question.

The suggestion that Mr. Trump was prepared to charge ahead on adding a citizenship question stirred fears among opponents of the plan who hoped the debate had been put to rest.

Attorney General Letitia James of New York, whose office headed the census lawsuit that led to the Supreme Court ruling last week, dismissed Mr. Trump’s statement as “another attempt to sow chaos and confusion.”

“The Supreme Court of the United States has spoken, and Trump’s own Commerce Department has spoken,” she said in a statement. “It’s time to move forward to ensure every person in the country is counted.”

Census results are used to determine House of Representatives seats and for drawing political maps at all levels of government across the country. They are also used to allot federal funding for social services.

Adding the citizenship question could lead to an undercounting in areas with large numbers of immigrants, who tend to vote Democratic, potentially costing Democrats representation and government funding.

The defeat before the court came as a surprise to Mr. Trump, who for months was assured that the change was on track, and has placed Mr. Ross back in the hot seat.

Earlier in Mr. Trump’s term, the president soured on Mr. Ross’s handling of trade negotiations and suggested that the 81-year-old investor had lost his deal-making touch. Mr. Ross has largely avoided the president’s ire since then, but the census matter has continued to dog him.

Mr. Ross has also drawn anger from Democrats in Congress for offering shifting explanations about who he spoke with to determine the legality of adding the citizenship question. In 2018 he acknowledged that he had discussed the issue with Stephen K. Bannon, Mr. Trump’s former political strategist, after originally claiming he talked about it only with the Justice Department.

Administration officials said that the president was not planning to fire Mr. Ross, but that the situation had renewed concerns about his performance.

By Wednesday afternoon, whatever frustration that Mr. Trump had with the commerce secretary had largely dissipated, a second administration official said, and the president was focused on finding a way to add a question to the census. Mr. Trump told aides that might mean tacking on a question after census questionnaires had been printed.

Mr. Ross’s department will soon have to clarify the status of the census publicly. The House Oversight Committee said Wednesday that the director of the Census Bureau, Steven Dillingham, would appear before a subcommittee on July 24 to review preparations for the 2020 head count.

“It is time for the Census Bureau to move beyond all the outside political agendas and distractions and devote its full attention to preparing for the 2020 census,” Representative Jamie Raskin, a Maryland Democrat on the committee, said in a statement.

A Commerce Department spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.

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Justice Department Reverses Course on Citizenship Question on Census, Citing Trump’s Orders

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WASHINGTON — A day after pledging that the 2020 census would not ask respondents about their citizenship, the Justice Department reversed course on Wednesday and said it was hunting for a way to restore the question on orders from President Trump.

Officials told a federal judge in Maryland that they thought there would be a way to still add the question, despite printing deadlines, and that they would ask the Supreme Court to send the case to district court with instructions to remedy the situation.

President Trump had been frustrated with Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross for mishandling the White House’s effort to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census, according to an administration official, and said on Wednesday that he was “absolutely moving forward” with plans to add it despite a Supreme Court decision last week rejecting the move.

It was the second time that Mr. Trump said he was directing the Commerce Department to move forward with the plan, which critics contend is part of an administration effort to skew the census results in favor of Republicans. On Tuesday, the Justice Department said that the census forms were being printed without the citizenship question and Mr. Ross said that he was heeding the court’s ruling.

But the president, who has not shied away from testing the boundaries of executive power, is not letting the matter go.

“The News Reports about the Department of Commerce dropping its quest to put the Citizenship Question on the Census is incorrect or, to state it differently, FAKE!” Mr. Trump wrote Wednesday on Twitter. “We are absolutely moving forward, as we must, because of the importance of the answer to this question.”

The Supreme Court last week rejected the administration’s stated reason for adding a question on citizenship to the census. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., writing for the majority, said the explanation offered by officials for adding the question “appears to have been contrived.” But he left open the chance the administration could offer an adequate rationale.

On Wednesday afternoon, White House officials were actively working on a way to satisfy Mr. Trump’s demand but had not yet settled on a solution.

The suggestion that Mr. Trump was prepared to defy the court’s decision stirred fears among opponents of the plan who hoped the debate over the citizenship question had been put to rest.

The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, which is representing plaintiffs in legal cases in Maryland, quickly condemned the president’s remarks.

“We are outraged at Trump’s tweet,” Denise Hulett, the group’s national senior counsel, said in a statement. “The Census Bureau must immediately commit to counteract his statements with the truth — that the citizenship question will not be on the census.”

Three separate federal courts — in Manhattan, Maryland and California — have ruled that the Commerce Department violated federal procedural law and the Constitution in hastily tacking the citizenship question onto the census last year. The Supreme Court upheld the Manhattan ruling last week.

Separately, an appeals court has ordered the Maryland case reopened to consider new evidence on a third charge: that Mr. Ross’s decision to add the question amounts to intentional discrimination against Hispanics, who are considered most likely to be undercounted out of fear of the consequences of revealing their citizenship status or the status of people who live with them. About one in 10 American households includes at least one noncitizen.

Judge George J. Hazel of the United States District Court, who is overseeing the Maryland lawsuits, unexpectedly summoned lawyers in the case to a conference call on Wednesday afternoon, Ms. Hulett said. Judge Hazel later ordered the Trump administration to confirm by Friday afternoon that it is not placing the citizenship question on the census questionnaire, lawyers for plaintiffs in the case said.

Absent that confirmation, the judge said, the Maryland lawsuit will continue.

Attorney General Letitia James of New York, whose office headed the census lawsuit that led to the Supreme Court ruling last week, dismissed Mr. Trump’s statement as “another attempt to sow chaos and confusion.”

“The Supreme Court of the United States has spoken, and Trump’s own Commerce Department has spoken,” she said in a statement. “It’s time to move forward to ensure every person in the country is counted.”

The federal district judge in Manhattan overseeing that lawsuit, Jesse M. Furman, ordered the Justice Department on Thursday to brief him on the conference with Judge Hazel so he can decide whether a similar conference is needed in the Manhattan case.

Mr. Trump’s statements directly contradicted both the Justice Department and the Commerce Department, which had stated in writing that the next census will not include a question on citizenship.

Mr. Ross said in a statement on Tuesday that “the Census Bureau has started the process of printing the decennial questionnaires without the question.” And in a teleconference on Tuesday conducted by Judge Hazel, Justice Department lawyers confirmed that the government would take no further legal steps to add the citizenship question to the questionnaire.

Regulatory and legal experts largely agree that the administration’s chances of retaining the question were exceedingly dim in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision to block it.

The administration itself had argued to the justices only this month that legal challenges to the question had to be resolved because the printing of census forms could not be delayed past early July. But the only avenue the court left open to restoring the question — producing and winning approval of a new explanation justifying it — would have taken weeks, if not months, to complete.

Census results are used to determine House of Representatives seats and for drawing political maps at all levels of government across the country. They are also used to allot federal funding for social services.

Adding the citizenship question could lead to an undercounting in areas with large numbers of immigrants, who tend to vote Democratic, potentially costing Democrats representation and government funding.

The defeat before the court came as a surprise to Mr. Trump, who for months was assured that the change was on track, and has placed Mr. Ross back in the hot seat.

Earlier in Mr. Trump’s term, the president soured on Mr. Ross’s handling of trade negotiations and suggested that the 81-year-old billionaire investor had lost his deal-making touch. Mr. Ross has largely avoided the president’s ire since then, but the census matter has continued to dog him.

Mr. Ross has also drawn anger from Democrats in Congress for offering shifting explanations about who he spoke with to determine the legality of adding the citizenship question. In 2018 he acknowledged that he had discussed the issue with Stephen K. Bannon, Mr. Trump’s former political strategist, after originally claiming he talked about it only with the Justice Department.

Administration officials said that the president was not planning to fire Mr. Ross, but that the situation had renewed concerns about his performance.

By Wednesday afternoon, whatever frustration that Mr. Trump had with the commerce secretary had largely dissipated, a second administration official said, and the president was focused on finding a way to add a question to the census. Mr. Trump told aides that might mean tacking on a question after census questionnaires had been printed.

Mr. Ross’s department will soon have to clarify the status of the census publicly. The House Oversight Committee said Wednesday that the director of the Census Bureau, Steven Dillingham, would appear before a subcommittee on July 24 to review preparations for the 2020 head count.

“It is time for the Census Bureau to move beyond all the outside political agendas and distractions and devote its full attention to preparing for the 2020 census,” Representative Jamie Raskin, a Maryland Democrat on the committee, said in a statement.

A Commerce Department spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.

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Trump Vows to Move Forward With Citizenship Question on Census

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WASHINGTON — President Trump said on Wednesday that the Commerce Department is “absolutely moving forward” with plans to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census, contradicting statements made by his Department of Justice and Wilbur Ross, the Commerce secretary, and calling reports based on them “fake.”

It was the second time in two days that Mr. Trump said he was directing the Commerce Department to defy a decision made by the Supreme Court last week that blocked the plan, which critics contend is part of an administration effort to skew the census results in favor of Republicans. On Tuesday, the Justice Department said that the census was being printed without the citizenship question and Mr. Ross said that he was heeding the court’s ruling.

But the president is not letting the matter go.

“The News Reports about the Department of Commerce dropping its quest to put the Citizenship Question on the Census is incorrect or, to state it differently, FAKE!” Mr. Trump wrote Wednesday on Twitter. “We are absolutely moving forward, as we must, because of the importance of the answer to this question.”

[Why experts are worried about the 2020 census]

Mr. Trump’s statements notwithstanding, both the Justice Department and the Commerce Department have stated in writing that the next census will not include a question on citizenship.

Mr. Ross said in a statement on Tuesday that “the Census Bureau has started the process of printing the decennial questionnaires without the question.” And in a teleconference on Tuesday conducted by the federal judge overseeing two Maryland lawsuits on the issue, Justice Department lawyers confirmed that the government would take no further legal steps to add the citizenship question to the questionnaire.

Regulatory and legal experts largely agree that the administration’s chances of retaining the question were exceedingly dim in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision to block it.

[What you need to know about the citizenship question and the census]

The administration itself had argued to the justices only this month that legal challenges to the question had to be resolved because the printing of census forms could not be delayed past early July. But the only avenue the court left open to restoring the question — producing and winning approval of a new explanation justifying it — would have taken weeks, if not months, to complete.

Census results are used to determine House of Representatives seats and for drawing political maps at all levels of government across the country. They are also used to allot federal funding for social services. Adding the citizenship question could lead to an undercounting in areas with large numbers of immigrants, who tend to vote Democratic, potentially costing Democrats representation and government funding.

A Commerce Department spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Hacking, Glitches, Disinformation: Why Experts Are Worried About the 2020 Census

In the run-up to the 2020 census, the government has embraced technology as never before, hoping to halt the ballooning cost of the decennial head count. For the first time, households will have the option of responding online, and field workers going door to door will be equipped with smartphones to log the information they collect.

To make it all work, the Census Bureau needed more computing power and digital storage space, so it turned to cloud technology provided by Amazon Web Services.

What the bureau didn’t realize — until an audit last year — was that there was an unsecured door to sensitive data left open. Access credentials for an account with virtually unlimited privileges had been lost, potentially allowing a hacker to view, alter or delete information collected during recent field tests.

The Census Bureau says that it has closed off this vulnerability and that no information was compromised. But the discovery of the problem highlights the myriad risks facing next year’s all-important head count.

Most concerns about the census have been focused on the Trump administration’s effort to include a question about citizenship status, which officials said Tuesday they were abandoning after being blocked by the United States Supreme Court. But far less attention has been paid to other issues that could threaten the census’s accuracy.

[How is the census conducted? Here are some answers about the count and how it would have been affected by asking about citizenship.]

Each census is a staggering logistical lift, but the 2020 count presents challenges the Census Bureau has never confronted before.

The government has ambitious plans to use new digital methods to collect data. But the Census Bureau has had to scale back testing of that technology because of inadequate funding — raising the risk of problems ranging from software glitches to cyberattacks.

Also new is the threat of online disinformation campaigns reminiscent of the 2016 presidential cycle. The heated political discourse about the citizenship question has supplied ample fuel, and researchers say they are already beginning to see coordinated online efforts to undermine public trust in the census and to sow chaos and confusion.

The intense focus on the citizenship question “has drawn away energy and resources in ways that have really been counterproductive to the bureau’s efforts,” said Arturo Vargas, chief executive of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials. “To some extent, the bureau is going into 2020 blindfolded.”

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_157080333_99f712f3-c347-4f7b-90d0-9f2bdf7c2e50-articleLarge Hacking, Glitches, Disinformation: Why Experts Are Worried About the 2020 Census Population Government Accountability Office Cyberwarfare and Defense Computers and the Internet census bureau census Amazon.com Inc

The Trump administration dropped efforts to add a question on citizenship to the 2020 census after being blocked by the Supreme Court.CreditSamuel Corum for The New York Times

The consequences could be profound and enduring. Information gathered during the census is used to determine which states gain or lose seats in the House and votes in the Electoral College, to redraw congressional districts and to allocate hundreds of billions of dollars in federal funding for a host of services, such as health care, education and affordable housing. Businesses rely heavily on the data to make decisions about where to open stores or ship goods.

The Census Bureau said that it has fixed problems identified during testing and is working with other government agencies and private companies to guard against technical mishaps, cyber-related vulnerabilities and the spread of misinformation. “We are confident in the resources we have to conduct a complete and accurate census,” the bureau said.

But the danger if anything goes wrong, said Terri Ann Lowenthal, a former congressional staff member and longtime census expert, is that “public confidence plummets and people decide this is not going to be a good census so we’re not going to respond.”

“At that point,” she said, “we could be headed toward a failed census.”

Mandated by the Constitution, the census has been conducted without fail every 10 years since 1790. The first was conducted by United States marshals who traveled on horseback and asked residents just six basic questions.

Since then, the census has grown far more elaborate, though the process for conducting it — mailing out paper forms and relying heavily on field workers going door to door — remained essentially the same from 1970 through 2010.

Over time, however, costs have soared while response rates have declined. The average cost, in 2020 dollars, to count one housing unit increased from about $16 in 1970 to about $92 in 2010, a Government Accountability Office analysis found.

“We needed a breakthrough,” said Robert Groves, director of the bureau during the 2010 census. “We couldn’t continue the trend of inflating costs using the same methods.”

The transition to new technologies for 2020, such as issuing smartphones to field workers, represents a “huge jump” in the right direction, Mr. Groves said.

The greater use of data collected by other agencies, such as Medicare and Medicaid, could help identify vacant households, making more costly in-person follow-up visits unnecessary. Software that tracks field workers’ progress and directs them to optimal routes could save time.

Census Bureau files, circa 1949, contained a card for every person in the United States.CreditBettman Archive, via Getty Images Census geographers at the bureau’s headquarters in Suitland, Md., use images captured from satellites and planes to verify addresses in rural communities and compare them with previous maps.CreditU.S. Census Bureau, via Associated Press

For experts, the greater use of technology raises two primary questions: Does it work, and is it secure? The Census Bureau’s efforts to answer those questions have been hampered by inadequate resources.

Security tests of some IT systems that were originally supposed to take up to eight weeks had to be completed in about one week, the G.A.O. found. The bureau conducted its critical 2018 dress rehearsal, planned to take place in three communities, in just one: Providence County, R.I.

Though the bureau said it has fixed the problems identified during this dry run, the G.A.O. expressed concern over the missed opportunity to test new technology in places such as rural West Virginia or tribal land in Washington State — areas that would have been covered under the original plan.

“Our concern is that the bureau may not know what it doesn’t know,” said Robert Goldenkoff, director of the Government Accountability Office’s strategic issues team. “Not every place looks like Providence, Rhode Island.”

In Providence and during other, smaller-scale field tests, census workers encountered technological issues, the G.A.O. reported. A software glitch sent multiple canvassers to the same block. Some workers had trouble finding an internet connection to transmit the information they had collected. Others had trouble recording people’s responses in an application on their smartphones.

These types of small hang-ups, while manageable in one community, could amount to big problems on a national scale, G.A.O. has warned.

And then there is the risk of a cyberattack. The Commerce Department’s Office of Inspector General, which discovered the cloud security problem last year during an audit, said the vulnerability it found was “potentially catastrophic.” If a hacker had gained access to the lost user credentials, the inspector general found, the Census Bureau “would have been powerless to stop an attacker from causing irreparable harm.”

Hackers could also target bureau employees with phishing emails containing links that, when clicked, install malware, for example. In 2016, a cyberattack forced a temporary shutdown of the Australian census’s online response site, prompting the social media hashtag #CensusFail.

The Census Bureau said it has been able to test its IT systems in a variety of settings and that its cybersecurity team “is partnering with federal agencies including the Department of Homeland Security, the federal intelligence community, as well as industry experts to share threat intelligence information.”

“In the case we do face an incident,” the bureau said, “our team is prepared to take action to contain the threat and share information, as soon as possible, if there is any impact on the American public.”

The potential spread online of bogus or misleading information presents another novel risk.

“If you wanted to provoke fears among the population as to how the census data could be used,” said Nathaniel Persily, a professor at Stanford Law School who studies the interplay of technology and government, “the American population is fertile ground right now for conspiracy theories and manipulation.”

Balloons decorated Framingham City Hall during the 2020 Massachusetts Census Kickoff event in Framingham, Mass., in April.CreditSuzanne Kreiter/The Boston Globe, via Getty Images

The controversy over the citizenship question could provide fodder for provocateurs seeking to spread falsehoods and confusion. Groups monitoring for this sort of content said they had already seen examples appearing, primarily on far-right websites.

Numerous experts cited a recent post on a neo-Nazi website urging people to apply for a job going door to door for the Census Bureau so they could report suspected noncitizens to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Doing so, however, would be illegal. Census workers are required to swear a lifetime oath not to disclose respondents’ personal information, including to other government agencies, under the penalty of up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

So far, such posts seem to originate within the United States, said Maria Filippelli, a public interest technology census fellow at New America. But she expects eventually to see foreign actors intervene as well.

“There are a lot of people who want to undermine our democracy, very similar to what we saw in the 2016 election,” she said.

The Census Bureau said it is working with big technology companies, including social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, to detect and counter disinformation efforts. One way, the bureau said, is to make sure that accurate information is highlighted at the top of search results, while fake websites and misinformation are pushed to the bottom.

Facebook announced on Sunday that it is expanding its efforts to combat election interference to include bad information about the census or threats of violence toward anyone participating in it.

A Twitter spokesperson said the company has met several times with Census Bureau officials “to discuss the best ways to support a healthy conversation on Twitter regarding the 2020 Census.”

Given the distrust among groups that historically have been undercounted, the bureau’s efforts to build trust through partnerships with businesses and local community leaders will be both more important and more difficult than ever, census experts said.

Convincing the reluctant to respond “will require much more repetition than in the past,” Steve Jost, a former Census Bureau official, said.

Enlisting the aid of businesses to promote participation is proving much more challenging now, said Mr. Vargas, of the organization of Latino officials. In the past, he said, companies agreed to incorporate census-related messages in advertisements and store displays, for example. This cycle, that has changed, he said.

“I have not seen the level of reluctance among business leaders to participate in a census like this one,” Mr. Vargas said. “Business leaders are allergic to issues that are perceived to be controversial, especially if they have any kind of racial controversy mixed in.”

The greatest risk to the census, former officials say, is that the public loses faith in the legitimacy of an independent institution at the core of American democracy — whether because of a crashed website, a partisan fight or a drumbeat of disinformation.

“The price is poor quality data,” Mr. Jost said, “and the price of that lives with us for a decade.”

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Hacking, Glitches, Disinformation: Why Experts Are Worried About the 2020 Census

In the run-up to the 2020 census, the government has embraced technology as never before, hoping to halt the ballooning cost of the decennial head count. For the first time, households will have the option of responding online, and field workers going door to door will be equipped with smartphones to log the information they collect.

To make it all work, the Census Bureau needed more computing power and digital storage space, so it turned to cloud technology provided by Amazon Web Services.

What the bureau didn’t realize — until an audit last year — was that there was an unsecured door to sensitive data left open. Access credentials for an account with virtually unlimited privileges had been lost, potentially allowing a hacker to view, alter or delete information collected during recent field tests.

The Census Bureau says that it has closed off this vulnerability and that no information was compromised. But the discovery of the problem highlights the myriad risks facing next year’s all-important head count.

Most concerns about the census have been focused on the Trump administration’s effort to include a question about citizenship status, which officials said Tuesday they were abandoning after being blocked by the United States Supreme Court. But far less attention has been paid to other issues that could threaten the census’s accuracy.

[How is the census conducted? Here are some answers about the count and how it would have been affected by asking about citizenship.]

Each census is a staggering logistical lift, but the 2020 count presents challenges the Census Bureau has never confronted before.

The government has ambitious plans to use new digital methods to collect data. But the Census Bureau has had to scale back testing of that technology because of inadequate funding — raising the risk of problems ranging from software glitches to cyberattacks.

Also new is the threat of online disinformation campaigns reminiscent of the 2016 presidential cycle. The heated political discourse about the citizenship question has supplied ample fuel, and researchers say they are already beginning to see coordinated online efforts to undermine public trust in the census and to sow chaos and confusion.

The intense focus on the citizenship question “has drawn away energy and resources in ways that have really been counterproductive to the bureau’s efforts,” said Arturo Vargas, chief executive of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials. “To some extent, the bureau is going into 2020 blindfolded.”

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_157080333_99f712f3-c347-4f7b-90d0-9f2bdf7c2e50-articleLarge Hacking, Glitches, Disinformation: Why Experts Are Worried About the 2020 Census Population Government Accountability Office Cyberwarfare and Defense Computers and the Internet census bureau census Amazon.com Inc

The Trump administration dropped efforts to add a question on citizenship to the 2020 census after being blocked by the Supreme Court.CreditSamuel Corum for The New York Times

The consequences could be profound and enduring. Information gathered during the census is used to determine which states gain or lose seats in the House and votes in the Electoral College, to redraw congressional districts and to allocate hundreds of billions of dollars in federal funding for a host of services, such as health care, education and affordable housing. Businesses rely heavily on the data to make decisions about where to open stores or ship goods.

The Census Bureau said that it has fixed problems identified during testing and is working with other government agencies and private companies to guard against technical mishaps, cyber-related vulnerabilities and the spread of misinformation. “We are confident in the resources we have to conduct a complete and accurate census,” the bureau said.

But the danger if anything goes wrong, said Terri Ann Lowenthal, a former congressional staff member and longtime census expert, is that “public confidence plummets and people decide this is not going to be a good census so we’re not going to respond.”

“At that point,” she said, “we could be headed toward a failed census.”

Mandated by the Constitution, the census has been conducted without fail every 10 years since 1790. The first was conducted by United States marshals who traveled on horseback and asked residents just six basic questions.

Since then, the census has grown far more elaborate, though the process for conducting it — mailing out paper forms and relying heavily on field workers going door to door — remained essentially the same from 1970 through 2010.

Over time, however, costs have soared while response rates have declined. The average cost, in 2020 dollars, to count one housing unit increased from about $16 in 1970 to about $92 in 2010, a Government Accountability Office analysis found.

“We needed a breakthrough,” said Robert Groves, director of the bureau during the 2010 census. “We couldn’t continue the trend of inflating costs using the same methods.”

The transition to new technologies for 2020, such as issuing smartphones to field workers, represents a “huge jump” in the right direction, Mr. Groves said.

The greater use of data collected by other agencies, such as Medicare and Medicaid, could help identify vacant households, making more costly in-person follow-up visits unnecessary. Software that tracks field workers’ progress and directs them to optimal routes could save time.

Census Bureau files, circa 1949, contained a card for every person in the United States.CreditBettman Archive, via Getty Images Census geographers at the bureau’s headquarters in Suitland, Md., use images captured from satellites and planes to verify addresses in rural communities and compare them with previous maps.CreditU.S. Census Bureau, via Associated Press

For experts, the greater use of technology raises two primary questions: Does it work, and is it secure? The Census Bureau’s efforts to answer those questions have been hampered by inadequate resources.

Security tests of some IT systems that were originally supposed to take up to eight weeks had to be completed in about one week, the G.A.O. found. The bureau conducted its critical 2018 dress rehearsal, planned to take place in three communities, in just one: Providence County, R.I.

Though the bureau said it has fixed the problems identified during this dry run, the G.A.O. expressed concern over the missed opportunity to test new technology in places such as rural West Virginia or tribal land in Washington State — areas that would have been covered under the original plan.

“Our concern is that the bureau may not know what it doesn’t know,” said Robert Goldenkoff, director of the Government Accountability Office’s strategic issues team. “Not every place looks like Providence, Rhode Island.”

In Providence and during other, smaller-scale field tests, census workers encountered technological issues, the G.A.O. reported. A software glitch sent multiple canvassers to the same block. Some workers had trouble finding an internet connection to transmit the information they had collected. Others had trouble recording people’s responses in an application on their smartphones.

These types of small hang-ups, while manageable in one community, could amount to big problems on a national scale, G.A.O. has warned.

And then there is the risk of a cyberattack. The Commerce Department’s Office of Inspector General, which discovered the cloud security problem last year during an audit, said the vulnerability it found was “potentially catastrophic.” If a hacker had gained access to the lost user credentials, the inspector general found, the Census Bureau “would have been powerless to stop an attacker from causing irreparable harm.”

Hackers could also target bureau employees with phishing emails containing links that, when clicked, install malware, for example. In 2016, a cyberattack forced a temporary shutdown of the Australian census’s online response site, prompting the social media hashtag #CensusFail.

The Census Bureau said it has been able to test its IT systems in a variety of settings and that its cybersecurity team “is partnering with federal agencies including the Department of Homeland Security, the federal intelligence community, as well as industry experts to share threat intelligence information.”

“In the case we do face an incident,” the bureau said, “our team is prepared to take action to contain the threat and share information, as soon as possible, if there is any impact on the American public.”

The potential spread online of bogus or misleading information presents another novel risk.

“If you wanted to provoke fears among the population as to how the census data could be used,” said Nathaniel Persily, a professor at Stanford Law School who studies the interplay of technology and government, “the American population is fertile ground right now for conspiracy theories and manipulation.”

Balloons decorated Framingham City Hall during the 2020 Massachusetts Census Kickoff event in Framingham, Mass., in April.CreditSuzanne Kreiter/The Boston Globe, via Getty Images

The controversy over the citizenship question could provide fodder for provocateurs seeking to spread falsehoods and confusion. Groups monitoring for this sort of content said they had already seen examples appearing, primarily on far-right websites.

Numerous experts cited a recent post on a neo-Nazi website urging people to apply for a job going door to door for the Census Bureau so they could report suspected noncitizens to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Doing so, however, would be illegal. Census workers are required to swear a lifetime oath not to disclose respondents’ personal information, including to other government agencies, under the penalty of up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

So far, such posts seem to originate within the United States, said Maria Filippelli, a public interest technology census fellow at New America. But she expects eventually to see foreign actors intervene as well.

“There are a lot of people who want to undermine our democracy, very similar to what we saw in the 2016 election,” she said.

The Census Bureau said it is working with big technology companies, including social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, to detect and counter disinformation efforts. One way, the bureau said, is to make sure that accurate information is highlighted at the top of search results, while fake websites and misinformation are pushed to the bottom.

Facebook announced on Sunday that it is expanding its efforts to combat election interference to include bad information about the census or threats of violence toward anyone participating in it.

A Twitter spokesperson said the company has met several times with Census Bureau officials “to discuss the best ways to support a healthy conversation on Twitter regarding the 2020 Census.”

Given the distrust among groups that historically have been undercounted, the bureau’s efforts to build trust through partnerships with businesses and local community leaders will be both more important and more difficult than ever, census experts said.

Convincing the reluctant to respond “will require much more repetition than in the past,” Steve Jost, a former Census Bureau official, said.

Enlisting the aid of businesses to promote participation is proving much more challenging now, said Mr. Vargas, of the organization of Latino officials. In the past, he said, companies agreed to incorporate census-related messages in advertisements and store displays, for example. This cycle, that has changed, he said.

“I have not seen the level of reluctance among business leaders to participate in a census like this one,” Mr. Vargas said. “Business leaders are allergic to issues that are perceived to be controversial, especially if they have any kind of racial controversy mixed in.”

The greatest risk to the census, former officials say, is that the public loses faith in the legitimacy of an independent institution at the core of American democracy — whether because of a crashed website, a partisan fight or a drumbeat of disinformation.

“The price is poor quality data,” Mr. Jost said, “and the price of that lives with us for a decade.”

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America Vastly Overestimates the Size of the LGBT Community According to Study

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With things like the LGBT movement dominating entire months, and so much advocacy and activism being dedicated to the community, you’d think that gay and lesbians exist around every corner. However, according to a new Gallup study, America has it vastly overestimated how large the LGBT community is, and it’s all that advocacy and activism it has to thank for it.

According to James Barrett at the Daily Wire, U.S. adults typically guess that nearly a quarter of the population calls in one of the categories that consist of the LGBT movement. In truth, that number is way, way off:

“U.S. adults estimate that nearly one in four Americans (23.6%) are gay or lesbian. Gallup has previously found that Americans have greatly overestimated the U.S. gay population, recording similar average estimates of 24.6% in 2011 and 23.2% in 2015,” the group reports.

That estimate is “more than five times Gallup’s more encompassing 2017 estimate that 4.5% of Americans are LGBT, based on respondents’ self-identification as being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender,” Gallup explains. When the estimates are broken down by demographics, even the most conservative estimates still remain about four times higher than the 4.5% estimated actual number.

The group is actually very small, but according to Gallup, it receives an inordinate amount of attention and creates the illusion that it’s much larger than it actually is:

Overestimations of the nation’s gay population may in part be due to the group’s outsized visibility. An annual report by GLAAD, an LGBT advocacy group, found that representation of LGBT people as television series regulars on broadcast primetime scripted programming reached an all-time high of 8.8% in the 2018-2019 television season, which is nearly twice Gallup’s estimate of the actual population.

Media, politicians, and activist groups dedicate tons of attention and screen time to a group that, in truth, makes up just a small percentage of the population. You see activist groups push hard for acceptance of even the most extreme behaviors and are told that this is the way society is going and we should just accept it. You see people come out in droves to participate in Pride parades.

In reality, society isn’t going in that direction. The vast majority of us don’t subscribe to it. Many are lending their support to it for various reasons. They may truly believe in it, or some just find supporting it a trendy thing to do since it’s shoved in our faces by the mainstream media. An entire month is dedicated to it, and we’re told not supporting it makes us bigots.

To be clear, members of the LGBT community are Americans that deserve the same amount of respect as everyone else, but we’re being consistently told they deserve more to the point of praising them for being gay or lesbian. This creates conflict, and the fight against the social takeover creates a very loud battlefield, further lending to the idea that this is a much larger community than we’re told.

We’re looking at a very large shadow being cast on the wall by a very small rabbit.

The post America Vastly Overestimates the Size of the LGBT Community According to Study appeared first on RedState.

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When It Comes to the Census, the Damage Among Immigrants Is Already Done

LOS ANGELES — Seven days a week in MacArthur Park, a vibrant Latino neighborhood near downtown Los Angeles, Pedro sells mangoes from a cart to passers-by. He has been a regular in the area for 16 years, earning about $800 a month and sending as much as half of that back to his family in Guatemala.

When federal government workers spread out across the country next year to count every United States resident for the census, Pedro, 50, will almost certainly not be included. He and his neighbors are increasingly wary of people they do not recognize, especially those in uniforms.

“We came here to work, just to work, and it is better to keep the door closed,” said Pedro, who did not want to give his full name because he is undocumented.

On Thursday, the Supreme Court stopped the Census Bureau, at least for now, from asking residents whether they are American citizens. The court called the Trump administration’s justification for the question “contrived” but left open the possibility that the question could be added in the future.

Critics have accused the administration of attempting to use the question to discourage immigrant communities from participating in the census. An undercount of these communities, which are often in Democratic constituencies, could tilt political power in Congress and state legislatures toward the Republican Party. An undercount, experts say, would also deeply disrupt federal funding for poverty and health care programs, transportation, school planning and even private sector investments in undercounted areas.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_157018548_65f80eeb-7eeb-4390-8e8d-bf6a4cc78b58-articleLarge When It Comes to the Census, the Damage Among Immigrants Is Already Done Population Immigration and Emigration Hispanic-Americans census

In the MacArthur Park neighborhood, which is about 85 percent Latino and where Spanish is more commonly spoken than English, there was a sense of confusion over the census.CreditJenna Schoenefeld for The New York Times

But even though some Democrats may perceive the court’s decision as a victory, the damage, many experts say, has already been done. The fear engendered by the administration’s immigration policies will make the job of census workers difficult in primarily immigrant neighborhoods, regardless of whether or not the citizenship question is added.

[Sign up for our daily newsletter about news from California here.]

In predominantly Latino neighborhoods of Los Angeles this week, many people seemed largely unaware of the political machinations in Washington over the citizenship question, and many had never heard of the census. They were, however, concerned about the impending arrival of Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents in the neighborhood for planned raids.

In MacArthur Park, which is about 85 percent Latino and where Spanish is more commonly spoken than English, there was a sense of confusion. The very people who are being told by activists to keep their doors closed if I.C.E. agents pay a visit are also being told to open their doors for government census workers, so they can be counted.

[Here’s what you need to know about the debate over adding a citizenship question to the census.]

That presents enormous political and logistical challenges in California, the nation’s most populous state, with a large immigrant population. Political leaders in the state worry that they will miss out on federal dollars apportioned by population. The state could also potentially lose a seat in Congress if there is a significant undercount.

“We have this added challenge, the atmosphere created in D.C. of deep distrust and legitimate fear created in the government, and our undercount could be in the millions,” said Daniel Zingale, a senior strategist for Gov. Gavin Newsom. “The stakes are arguably higher for California than any other state.”

[Read about why the Trump administration is running out of time to print the census.]

Maricela Rodriguez, who works in the California governor’s office on civic engagement issues, said the state was already feeling the effects. “Really, the damage in terms of creating fear around the census has been done,” she said. “Whether the citizenship question is included or not included, there is already a lot of fear instilled in the immigrant community.”

Lesbia Elea with her daughter, Kayla, and nephew, Franki, in the Westlake neighborhood near MacArthur Park in Los Angeles.CreditJenna Schoenefeld for The New York Times

The Newsom administration announced this week that it intended to spend up to $187 million to bolster census outreach efforts within the state, several times as much as the state has spent before. “If you don’t participate in the census, Trump wins,” Mr. Newsom said on Thursday.

The nationwide census, which is conducted every 10 years, is more than just a snapshot of the population, said Diana Elliott, a senior researcher at the Urban Institute, a nonprofit research group based in Washington. The data gathered by the census helps determine federal funding for all types of programs, including education and transportation.

Residents like those in the MacArthur Park neighborhood, Ms. Elliott said, have historically been at high risk of being undercounted, because they rent rather than own their homes and because immigrant communities are often wary of the government. The citizenship question would have added an additional hurdle, and would have suppressed participation, especially among undocumented people, she said. And she noted that the fear of being on the government’s radar — even for the census — is already baked in.

“So much depends on the count,” she said. “But trust in government is very important for the Census Bureau and its activities, and that trust has been eroding for decades — but especially in light of the current political climate.”

At a bakery in MacArthur Park on Thursday, Elma Raxjal, who came to Los Angeles from Guatemala 14 years ago, said that she would not feel comfortable disclosing any information to census workers. The risk is too great, she said, recalling a family member who was deported several years ago.

The family has worked hard to assimilate into American life, she said, and her children all have Anglo names: Frank, Ashley and Jesse. But they live in fear of drawing attention to themselves. “When I go to work, sometimes they ask me what will happen to them if I don’t come back,” Ms. Raxjal said.

A flower vendor walked through the Westlake neighborhood.CreditJenna Schoenefeld for The New York Times

Lesbia Elea, who has lived in the United States for nearly 15 years, said that while her own documentation was in order, that was not the case for everyone in her family. Activists in the neighborhood have told her that immigration agents must present a warrant if they want to enter the family’s apartment, which everyone in the household has been instructed to remember.

“That’s the rule, we know that rule,” she said.

Ms. Elea, 28, said she planned to cooperate with the census count, but that some of her family and friends would not.

The federal government is responsible for conducting the census. The workers known as enumerators who go door to door to gather the data are hired directly by the federal government. But states can supplement those efforts with additional money and outreach — in California’s case, to reach the 15 million residents deemed at high risk of going uncounted.

The state is partnering with some community organizations to encourage participation. Arturo Vargas, chief executive of the NALEO Educational Fund, which works with the state and is based in MacArthur Park, said it was a challenge.

“This is the same government that wants to know everything about everyone in your house,” he said.

Ms. Elliott of the Urban Institute added that the federal government has allocated less money for door-knocking this time than it did for the previous census in 2010, and is putting more emphasis on self-reporting on the internet — a change which could yield a lower count, especially in lower-income areas where not everyone has regular internet access. “There are just some people who will never send out a form, and you have to be out engaging them and getting them to participate,” Ms. Elliott said.

But she added that community organizers still have time to persuade perhaps-nervous residents to make sure they are counted.

“There’s still potential for all of this to turn around,” she said. “But it really depends upon communities getting out the count and encouraging people to trust the census bureau, participate in the census. There’s still time for really important community engagement to happen.”

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Musk: Human population to collapse in the next 30 years

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Are we heading for an unavoidable collapse in human population levels on Earth? When a guy smart enough to come up with the Falcon Heavy suggests something, I’m willing to at least listen, if not totally buy in. We’re referring to the latest claim from Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk, who got into a bit of a Twitter scrap this weekend over where global population levels are heading. The United Nations is warning that we could have another 1.6 billion people taking up space on the planet in the next thirty years. But Musk is repeating alarms he previously sounded, warning of the opposite. According to this theory, there will be far too few people left in the next fifty years or so. (Business Insider)

Elon Musk is still worried about the human population.

In a tweet on Friday, the Tesla and SpaceX CEO doubled down on a theory he has backed in the past — the human population is headed for implosion.

Responding to a tweet, which projected the global population would grow by roughly 1.6 billion by 2050, Musk said the real problem facing humanity is an “aging and declining world population.”

Musk cited Jørgen Randers, a Norwegian academic who in his 2012 book “2052: A Global Forecast for the Next Forty Years” said the human population would start dwindling around 2040.

This isn’t really a debate over “Population Bomb” theories, such as Ed wrote about last year. Those discussions generally center on worries of a scarcity of resources and the resulting drive to forcibly reduce the population via government oversight. (Just ask the Chinese how well that worked out for them.)

What Musk is referring to is a totally different scenario. Rather than forced population reduction, one theory holds that humanity is shutting down baby production all on its own, and if that trend continues, there is going to be a major collapse on the way as smaller and smaller numbers of young, working-age people are unable to support the burgeoning armies of the elderly. After the ensuing die-off, global population levels could be a fraction of what they are now.

Does that theory hold water? Well… if you look at the current trends in Japan you might suspect so. Their average age is rising steadily and their total population is falling because fewer women are having children. If your country doesn’t maintain an average of 2.2 children per woman (or close to that), your native population is going to shrink. The study I linked above claims that the same thing is happening in other western nations already, with the glaring exception being on the continent of Africa. Their fertility continues to climb.

That sort of science is a bit out of my league, though it’s worth keeping an eye on. But allow me to circle back to the Population Bomb question for a moment. The predicted disasters arising from our massively growing human population haven’t happened. But that’s only because our technology has kept up with the challenges. I believe it’s already been well established that there are currently far, far more people on the planet than we could ever feed if we suddenly lost most of our technological advantages.

And that’s not impossible. We’d be talking about something like massive EMP exchanges between the superpowers, a terror attack knocking out the American power grid for years, or just a huge solar flare coming our way at the worst possible angle. If (or when) the lights go out around most of the world and we lose the ability to not only grow but transport massive amounts of food, people will begin starving in a matter of weeks. And starving people reach the desperation stage rapidly.

It would turn into Mad Max territory out there pretty quickly. And if that happens, you will indeed see a population collapse.

The post Musk: Human population to collapse in the next 30 years appeared first on Hot Air.

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