"They say we have a secret agenda," said Roy Beck, executive director of Numbers USA. But, Beck added, "we are a single-issue organization, and we push for reduced immigration." Beck and other group leaders said their organizations have no official position on abortion.
"Our motives are very clear," he said, "and some of them appeal to conservatives and some appeal to liberals."
Mark Krikorian, executive director of CIS and a regular contributor to the conservative National Review's website, called it "laughably unbelievable" that he would be accused of pursuing a radical agenda beyond his work on immigration. And Ira Mehlman, a spokesman for FAIR, said his organization "is not a population group, it's an immigration policy group."
The critics, however, argue that the three groups have misled conservatives. These critics point to reports on the FAIR and Numbers USA Web sites, for instance, that warn of environmental devastation from unchecked population growth, and they are circulating a 1993 report by CIS researchers sympathetic to contraception and the RU-486 abortion pill.
In the latest issue of an anti-abortion journal, The Human Life Review, the Hispanic GOP strategist Lopez accuses the groups of "hijacking" the immigration debate for their own purposes. He argues that population-control advocates "have built, operated, and funded much of the anti-immigration movement in the United States."
"Those who seek to advance the pro-life cause should not allow themselves to be fooled by those whose work is ultimately diametrically opposed to the right to life," Lopez writes.
The article, which has created a stir in conservative circles, ascribes the vision behind the groups to a controversial Michigan adherent of the "zero population growth" movement, John Tanton, who co-founded FAIR in 1979 and later helped start Numbers USA and CIS.