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Charlotte Observer: “Foundation for the Carolinas under scrutiny over grants to anti-immigration groups”

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In a must-read article from the Charlotte Observer, Teo Armus and Ames Alexander detail how the Foundation for the Carolinas has been making grants to hardline anti-immigrant groups such as the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), NumbersUSA and the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS). To date, The Foundation for the Carolinas has granted some $20 million to the controversial groups, and the donor fund the Foundation draws on is estimated to total some $400 million.

These extremist organizations, two of whom have been named hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center, have been shaping the policies of President Trump and Stephen Miller — from the Muslim ban to family separation to slamming the door on refugees to building up an unaccountable deportation force to slashing legal immigration to building an expensive and ineffective border wall. 

But this goes well beyond a policy debate. The administration’s rhetoric and the policies provide something of a permission structure to imbalanced followers, and the climate they have fostered is considered a factor in the 2018 massacre of Jews in a Pittsburgh synagogue and the 2019 mass killing of Latinos in a Walmart.  

Now, after a trove of 900 emails were released by the Southern Poverty Law Center exposing the close ties between these groups and the white nationalist views of White House aide Stephen Miller, members of Congress and others are calling on the Trump to fire Miller.

Meanwhile, the Foundation for the Carolinas, a foundation that does excellent work in other areas, defends being used as a conduit through which a private donor directs millions to radical groups to promote opposition to immigrants in America. Meanwhile, other foundations find responsible ways to draw a line against hate.

Below are excerpts from the article entitled, “Foundation for the Carolinas under scrutiny over grants to anti-immigration groups:”

The Foundation for the Carolinas is well known for supporting civic projects across the Charlotte area: It has worked to improve economic opportunity and handed out grants to area nonprofits, including some that support asylum-seekers and refugees.

Yet millions of dollars managed by the foundation have also bankrolled a network of anti-immigration groups, which are now drawing increased scrutiny as their proposals gain traction in the White House.

“This is an otherwise reputable organization that’s helping to legitimize a nativist movement,” Frank Sharry, the CEO of the immigration advocacy group and the author of the letter, said in an interview. “ … They’re financing a hateful agenda that’s leading to terror.”

An Observer review of the nation’s 10 largest community foundations found that the Foundation for the Carolinas is the only one that has channeled funds to anti-immigrant groups since 2015.

In its letter to the foundation’s board, America’s Voice pointed to one likely source of those funds: Fred Stanback, a conservation philanthropist from Salisbury who, according to records reviewed by The Charlotte Observer, has donated nearly $400 million in stocks to the foundation.

The foundation’s leaders said their policies prevent them from commenting on individual donors. Stanback did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

But documents and past media interviews point to his support for the country’s most influential anti-immigration groups: the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), NumbersUSA and the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS).

Those groups drafted and promoted the anti-immigration proposals at the heart of President Donald Trump’s agenda, including an end to birthright citizenship; the construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border; and greater limits on legal immigration, such as a rule that will limit visas and green cards for poor immigrants.

As mounting scrutiny of those policies — and their backers — embroils one of Charlotte’s most influential organizations, it raises weighty questions about the line between legitimate political speech and bigotry. Are any stances so extreme that they must be entirely discarded — or de-funded?