Misinformed accusations prevent reasoned discussion on immigration

Misinformed accusations prevent reasoned discussion on immigration: The annotated version

by Benjamin Zuckerman and Stuart H. Hurlbert

[AUTHORS’ NOTE: This article by Zuckerman appeared appeared in The Daily Bruin, the student newspaper of the University of California, Los Angeles, on October 26, 2017 (1). There followed many online responses to it. Hurlbert contributed an extensive annotated selection of those responses and updated information on Zuckerman’s attacker. These are appended here to the original article.]

For the second time in less than two months, the Daily Bruin Opinion page has seen fit to print a personal attack on me. Once again, the submission (2), this time written by Justino Mora, an alumnus, is a diatribe full of factual errors and guilt-by-association arguments. The errors in the earlier piece (3) were so blatant, The Bruin was forced to correct them in the online version.

The title of my response to the first submission about me was “Demonizing opposition does not solve issue of excessive immigration.” (4) I noted that essentially all of California’s rapid population growth is due to immigrants and their U.S.-born offspring. According to the U.S. Census Bureau (5), California already contains the four most densely populated urban areas in the entire U.S., with Los Angeles standing at the very top. Indeed, seven of the top 10 such areas are located in California. California contains one of the world’s biodiversity hot spots, but this biodiversity is being overrun by more and more people flooding into our state.

The position of Californians For Population Stabilization on legal immigration levels is similar to those of two distinguished national commissions. The first was The Commission on Population Growth and the American Future, chaired by John D. Rockefeller III in 1972, which recommended immigration levels not exceed 400,000 per year. The second was the report from the U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform, chaired in 1995 by Barbara Jordan, a Democratic, African-American congresswoman, which proposed a core immigration admissions level of 550,000 per year. An immigration level of around 500,000 per year would still be the most generous of any country on earth. (6)

Californians For Population Stabilization is concerned that the leadership of both major political parties want to increase legal immigration levels while not seemingly caring about illegal immigration. Such policies are driving the U.S. toward a projected population of 500 million and beyond, a disaster for the U.S. environment and that of the entire world, given the large per capita environmental impact of a typical American.(7)

It is appropriate to recall Winston Churchill’s comment from his 1959 “Memoirs of the Second World War” about British politics before World War II.

“The left and the right joined forces with fatuity at a terrible price to be paid later,” Churchill said.

Rather than addressing these real issues, Mora’s submission mainly uses the old guilt-by-association technique that former-disgraced U.S. Sen. Joseph McCarthy used when he suggested that if you know a communist, then you must be a communist too.

One example of this is the absurd link Mora draws between me and Michael Hart who, according to Mora, is a “white nationalist” based on a 2007 book Hart authored. The purported link is that Hart and I co-edited a book titled “Extraterrestrials, Where Are They?”

But our book was the outcome of a meeting we organized in 1979 on prospects for finding extraterrestrial intelligence. The two editions of our book were published by Pergamon Press in 1982 and by Cambridge University Press in 1995. In other words, Mora is holding me responsible for views expressed by Hart 28 years after our initial collaboration. Moreover, contributors to our book included some of the outstanding 2 scientists of the latter half of the 20th century, such as physicist Freeman Dyson, biologist Ernst Mayr and UCLA’s own Jared Diamond, a biologist.

Does Mr. Mora propose that these and other contributors are tainted by a book Hart wrote decades after the 1979 meeting?

Another absurd example of guilt by association involves John Tanton. Contrary to Mora’s claim, Tanton is no friend of mine; we have met exactly once. Mora claims Tanton was involved with me in an internal Sierra Club battle over U.S. population growth. The Sierra Club is the oldest and, arguably, the best-known environmental advocacy organization in the U.S. In 1996, when the club’s board of directors took a position that effectively ignored continuing U.S. population growth, I co-founded Sierrans for U.S. Population Stabilization [SUSPS], composed of Sierra Club members who believe U.S. overpopulation is a serious environmental issue that must be addressed. Tanton was not a member of SUSPS and, for all I know, may not even have been a Sierra Club member during those years. He played no role in the decade-long battle I took part in.

And, finally, to answer Mora’s claims at the end of his submission: Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals is of interest to many UCLA students. Californians For Population Stabilization currently has no official position on DACA legalization – this “no position” was affirmed at a meeting of the board of directors in early October.

DACA legalization is embedded in a suite of proposed bills currently being considered in Congress. One such bill would involve E-Verify, a program that requires employers to verify that a prospective employee is eligible to work in the United States.

My personal opinion is if Congress passes appropriate bills – including, for example, a mandatory nationwide E-Verify that would discourage adults with small children from illegally entering the U.S. in the future – I would be happy to see current DACA immigrants put on some path to naturalization.

Demonization of one’s opponents engenders hate and negates any chance for reasoned discussions. Social justice advocates and environmentalists must find a way to abandon adversarial positions.


(These represent conversions from hyperlinks in original article)

1. Benjamin Zuckerman, “Misinformed accusations prevent reasoned discussion on immigration,” The Daily Bruin,

University of California, Los Angeles (October 26, 2017). See: http://dailybruin.com/2017/10/26/submissionmisinformed-accusations-preve...

2. Justino Mora, “UCLA professor must dissociate organization from allegedly racist ties,” The Daily Bruin, University of

California, Los Angeles (October 16, 2017). See: http://dailybruin.com/2017/10/16/submission-ucla-professor-mustdissociat...

3. Hector Prado, “Bruins must stand against hate groups in face of professor involvement,” The Daily Bruin, University

of California, Los Angeles (August 27, 2017). See: http://dailybruin.com/2017/08/27/submission-bruins-smust-standagainst-ha...

4. Benjamin Zuckerman, “Demonizing opposition does not solve issue of excessive immigration.” The Daily Bruin,

University of California, Los Angeles (September 4, 2017). See: http://dailybruin.com/2017/09/04/submissiondemonizing-opposition-does-no...

5. U.S. Census Bureau, “Growth in urban population outpaces rest of nation, Census Bureau reports,” Press Release

(March 26, 2012). See: https://www.census.gov/newsroom/releases/archives/2010_census/cb12-50.html

6. United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division, “International Migration Report

2015 (ST/ESA/SER.A/384)” (2016).



7. Global Footprint Network, “Compare countries” (2013). See: http://data.footprintnetwork.org//compareCountries?cn=all&type=EFCpc&yr=...

Zuckerman is a research professor and professor emeritus at UCLA’s department of physics and astronomy.



3 Supplementary information provided by Stuart Hurlbert, San Diego State University

Justino Mora

Until a few months after Mora’s article appeared he had a prideful personal webpage at

https://www.undocumedia.org/justino-mora/ on the website of his organization, Undocumedia. Then, after many comments began accumulating at The Daily Bruin online that were critical of him and supportive of Zuckerman, and as many people began discovering Mora’s webpage via other sources, the link to that page became non-operational. Cause of the blackout may have been turmoil in Undocumedia when its executive director, Iván Ceja, was accused of “sexual harassment and anti-black sentiments”(1) and eventually resigned.(2) Then on August 8, 2018 Mora himself was terminated as CFO by the president of Undocumedia, Francisco Barragán, who was in turn asked to resign by Mora!(3) Since then Undocumedia, Mora and Barragán all seem to have gone silent on the internet.

Justino Mora is a DACA recipient, an illegal alien who was brought to the U.S. when he was eleven, became an active supporter of illegal immigration when he was in community college and at UCLA, and became an increasingly aggressive one after that. President Obama invited him to the White House for a photo op and to discuss “immigration reform”, i.e. amnesties.(4) Mora also has been an ally and supporter of Joe Green and Mark Zuckerberg’s race-card playing, pro-mass amnesty, pro-mass immigration organization, FWD.us .(5,6).

Mora, like Hector Pardo, author of the first Daily Bruin hit piece on Zuckerman, is a recent alumnus of UCLA.

That both were so gullible as to be taken in by the smear tactics of the Southern Poverty Law Center speaks poorly to the teaching of research skills and critical thinking at UCLA. There have been decades of articles on the lack of integrity of SPLC. Links to many of them can be found in the bibliography on “Censorship, Suppression & Personal Attack” on the website of Scientists and Environmentalists for Population Stabilization (www.populationstabilization.org), as well as on many other NGO websites.

Online comments on Zuckerman’s article

As of July 2019, these number 77 and almost all are supportive of the positions of Zuckerman and

Californians for Population Stabilization. Here’s a small sampling. The authors’ names are all put in quotation marks as, in the age of the internet, it’s not always easy to say who is really talking. Many scoundrels hide behind noms d’internet, but so also do very wise, ethical people who just can’t afford the social and professional risks created by ad hominem attacks from the less wise and less ethical. See the online versions of Hector Prado’s article and Zuckerman’s response to it for a large number of additional comments on the issues, including an entertaining debate between an anti-environment, population-oblivious internationalist (“Man with Axe”) and an anti-environment, population-oblivious globalist (“Publius”).

From “Stuart Hurlbert”: Zuckerman had his hands full in responding succinctly to vilification of himself and CAPS, and could hardly address all the other inaccuracies in Mora’s hit piece. The most egregious of these were Mora’s smearing of John Tanton as “anti-immigrant” and “white nationalist.” He was neither. I knew Tanton personally for a few years before he retired and found him a man of highest principle. His prescient, award-winning 1976 article on immigration, “International Migration as an Obstacle to Achieving World Stability“(http://www.cairco.org/cairco-docs/Tanton-1976-International-Migration-es...) is even more relevant today than it was when first published. His original byline on that article read: “John H. Tanton, M.D., was Chairman of the Zero Population Growth Immigration Study Committee 1973-1975, and has been National President of Zero Population Growth since 1975. From 1971-1975 he was Chairman of the Sierra Club National Population Committee and Organiser and President of the North Michigan Planned Parenthood Association. He is a well known speaker on human population problems.” Back in the day, he would have been called a classical liberal. So it was not surprising that he became president of ZPG in 1975, an organization founded in 1968 by three liberals (two scientists, Charles Remington and Paul Ehrlich, and lawyer Richard Bowers). However, later a timid ZPG national board decided it no longer wished to have any focus on U.S. zero population growth because it did not want to deal with the heat that comes with immigration issues. Leaders of the California chapter of ZPG demurred, ‘divorced’ from the national body, and in 1986 created a new organization, CAPS. True to his principles, Tanton became a big supporter of 4 CAPS and helped it get off the ground and funded especially during its earlier years. A good sense of the man is provided by a 5 min 2006 video “John Tanton Series –Introduction”

(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lucNJzf2zeo) and a 15 min 2016 video: “A tribute to Dr. John H. Tanton”

(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cc2aMO80akQ) . For a fuller account of his life and accomplishments, buy the 2002 biography by John Rohe, “Mary Lou and John Tanton: A Journey into American Conservation.”

From “wandagb”: Mora is an illegal alien who acquired an education from [11] years old onward at California taxpayers expense. His ethnic identity politics makes it impossible to look at the substance of Zuckerman's opinion piece: mass immigration is driving massive and unsustainable population growth in California. He must attack the messenger instead of looking in the mirror. UCLA students need to go beyond blind sympathy and ask the simple question: 'Do I want to live in a California of 50, 60 ... 100 million people?"

Unless immigration levels are reduced that is their future.

From “Stuart Hurlbert”: Good detective work. Mora is symbolic of a large social cost that the media tries to play down. There are currently about 4000 illegal aliens enrolled in the UC system and about 8000 in the CSU system. They account for an equal number of qualified citizen and legal immigrant applicants to those institutions being rejected. To rub salt in the wound, these illegal alien admittees pay lower tuition fees than do citizen admittees from other states. And there will be a few thousand more illegal alien admittees next year.

Unfortunately, many citizens prefer to keep the utopian, rose-colored glasses on until it is their child who is forced to go to a private or out-of-state university. In the California community college system, there were over 20,000 illegal alien students registered a few years ago; doubtless that number has grown.

From “George Sanchez”: It's really not about compassion, but more about having a cheap supply of labor constantly coming into the country. The rich get richer, by exploiting the cheap labor. The middle class and working classes get stretched thin financially, subsidizing the education costs, housing costs, and medical costs of the in-flowing crowds. We're also subsidizing them through the wage stagnation that the cheap labor creates. Indirectly, we are thus subsidizing the growth of the wealth of our elites. And it is absurd.

From “Valery Gomez”: It is insane that California elites think they can house, clothe, feed, educate and employ an unlimited amount of unauthorized aliens while at the same time champion reducing carbon emissions, protecting wildlife/open spaces and safeguarding water supplies.

From “Philip Cafaro”: For many decades, Ben Zuckerman has been a voice of reason in discussions about population growth and environmental protection. The simple fact is that stabilizing population is a sine qua non for ecological sustainability. If you want to breathe clean air, if you want to save a little habitat for other species rather than having people hog it all--hell, if you just want to drive to work without being stuck in traffic for hours--then population growth must be halted.

From “JMcD”: Something like 40% of illegal immigrants arrive on visa overstays. We need E-Verify more than we need a wall. Secondly, over 1 million immigrants arrive legally every year, far more than arrive illegally. Although we of course prefer legal immigrants, we will still break the 500 million person mark even if we stopped all illegal immigration. Legal immigrants also drive down wages for working class Americans, many of them minorities. Overall immigration must be reduced.

From “PaulScott58”: The wall is an ineffective and overly expensive means of stopping illegal immigration.

It's incredibly destructive to the bio-environment as well. For that much money, we can improve education and jobs in Mexico, which can arguably keep more people staying there and not coming to the U.S. than any wall. It's more humane and less destructive as well.

From “Stuart Hurlbert”: Yes, not very cost-efficient relative to other immigration controls, except over certain stretches of the border. But Trump's wall talk has always been metaphorical and used primarily to get across the idea that he was going to be tough on enforcement. The criticism of the wall by environmental organizations on the grounds of potential damage to flora and fauna in the vicinity of the border has always been hypocritical to the max. Organizations like the Center for Biological Diversity and the Sierra Club have 5 become de facto supporters of mass amnesties and mass legal immigration, and the tens and hundreds of million of people those add to the US population causes orders of magnitude more environmental degradation than would even a wall the full length of the US-Mexico border. Sometimes environmentalists are as pro-environment as is the building industry. For a good article on that hypocrisy, see: “Immigration, Population Growth, and Environmentalist Hypocrisy on the Border Fence” by Leon Kolankiewicz, Californians for Population Stabilization, CAPS News, Fall 2009, vol. 50, no. 2, p. 3 (https://www.capsweb.org/opinionreleases/immigration-population-growth-an...)

From “VinceD2”: Here's why the Sierra Club has been silent on THE most important environmental issue:

“The Man Behind The Land,” Los Angeles Times, Oct. 24, 2004,


From “Barb3000”: From the article I read back in the summer Mexico is very willing to give all the help to the DACA groups they can. They were taking bus loads of them to show them around towns in Mexico offering to place them in jobs where English needs to be taught in schools which they have done for the few DACA's that ICE deported, all this simply because of their speaking English. Mexico thinks these young people would be excellent ambassadors as a strong link between the two countries.

From “Stuart Hurlbert”: Excellent point, Barb. Illegal alien returnees who are not habitual or violent criminals will partially mitigate or compensate for the ongoing and hopefully increasing deportation of just such illegal alien criminals to those same countries. The Mexican government seems happy to welcome the former as it has no say regarding the latter. See this article: “Should DACA Recipients Become 'Cultural

Ambassadors' to Their Home Countries?”, By Andrew R. Arthur, CIS Immigration Blog, October 18, 2017,


EXCERPT: "The international relations aspects of the SWT program are easy to understand. In essence, the argument goes, foreign nationals are able to come to the United States, be exposed to our culture and our values, and return home to spread a positive view of the United States, while utilizing the skills that they gained in this country to benefit their home country. For example, the State Department website for the J-1 program includes the following....."

From “Roger Kuhlman”: The Demographic facts are these: 1) if immigration in America had remained at pre-1965 levels (1965 was the year liberal Democrats greatly expanded legal immigration in Congress), the American population would now be approaching population stability at around 240 to 250 million people.

Instead we already have 330 million people. 2) If illegal immigration and legal Mass Immigration continue at current levels or increase to levels contemplated in the passed 2013 Senate "Comprehensive" Immigration "Reform" bill--nearly all Illegal Aliens given Amnesty and Legal Immigration increased to over two million foreign workers per year--the American Human Population will grow to between 500 and 800 billion people by 2100. Such levels of Human Overpopulation in America would be an ecological nightmare in our Country unless Human consumption levels in terms of natural resources and land were drastically reduced to Third World standards. America today because of its high average consumption of natural resources and land is the most overpopulated Country on Earth. We are far above the ecological carrying capacity of America. We need to end Illegal Immigration now and reduce legal Mass Immigration to population neutral levels if we are to behave in a long-term ecologically responsible way as a Country.

From “GeorgeSanchez”: Even as a second generation American, I can see that the immigration issue must be addressed in the U.S. in a reasonable manner, and that it is absurd to denounce as "xenophobic" anyone who disagrees with the notion that our lawless and easily trespassed borders are a civil rights necessity.

Immigration is like water: a certain amount is good and energizing, but taken to extremes, it is also a resource that may cause America to drown.

From “Dr. M.”: Dr. Z, Thank you for stating the facts so clearly. I am amazed that so many, like this young writer [Mora], are quick to repeat horrific and defamatory allegations without carefully checking the facts.

From “Lily Whyte”: After reading all of the comments presented below, I find them, except for a very few, to state truth and common sense. However, having observed the issue of immigration, legal and illegal, since 1965, I no longer believe that peaceful actions will ever be taken to reverse course as we speed toward more 6 and more toward the final destruction of our country and the quality of life that we once enjoyed. There are too many powerful forces, in government and out, at play that, through greed and even hatred for America, will never allow the return to a sane immigration policy. In addition, the idea of "Economic Growth" always supersedes any rational thought pertaining to overpopulation. It is only with dread that I contemplate the future for my grandchildren.

From “Karen Kuntz”: I wish that I had known about SUSPS [Sierrans for U.S. Population Stabilization] when I dropped out of the Sierra Club for refusing to take a stand on immigration and overpopulation.

From “James Bowen”: I agree with the author. No other issue we are dealing with at this time will impact the quality of life for future generations of Americans [more] than immigration. Yet this most important aspect of the immigration issue is rarely discussed, partly because those who make this connection risk being smeared as a racist, bigot, xenophobe, etc.

From “Ellen Rocco”: The most critical environmental issue of the 21st century is population control, most particularly in developed countries like the U.S. Birth control, limits on immigration and access to abortion are all essential to addressing our destruction of the natural world around us. But, so is some effort to improve life in other countries, like those to the south of us. Foremost in improving the human condition is improving the quality of life of women--including access to education, birth control and economic opportunity.

From “Dana Garcia”: The real racist position is the belief that non-white people cannot run successful societies and must therefore be rescued by immigration to America.

From “kellysnake”: This article does open the gates to a reasoned discussion. Overpopulation is devastating our ecology. Immigration, both legal and illegal, is devastating areas that were previously untrammeled. I agree that one does need to consider the human aspect of it as well. We must consider those children who have no say in where they are when traveling with parents and have no knowledge of any other country. We must consider the health of those who are escaping persecution and possible death in other countries. At the same time, we must consider those who are affected by the influx of low paid workers who will not fight for their rights and will not join unions looking to better their fare as citizens. A compromise must be reached between these two farflung ideals. We must keep our eyes open to both sides of the coin when considering this argument. Thank you, Mr. Zuckerman, for making your case.

From “Stuart Hurlbert”: Perhaps we should say that "the human aspect of it" needs to come in primarily when immigration laws and policies are defined but not when we decide how to fairly, firmly and consistently enforce those laws and policies. And another dimension is the ethics of richly rewarding the illegal alien parents who brought the DACA recipients as children into the U.S. All the forces pushing for amnesty for the DACA recipients are also covertly pushing for amnesty for their parents -- and will soon be doing so overtly.

From “rev_dave”: Professor, those social justice warriors do not really work for any kind of justice at all, nor will they abandon their adversarial positions. You see, they are all following a tactics 'book' developed by the Frankfurt School of communist thought - whether by intention or through ignorance is immaterial. They simply don't want to talk facts because they will lose every time. A few of the tactics are:

1) Criticize everything but don't provide any 'solutions' - make everybody dissatisfied;

2) Lie, obfuscate and make extreme emotional appeals - if you cancel Obamacare people will die!;

3) Provoke violence, it will incense your opponents and you can blame them for the riots and assaults;

4) Destroy every ability of the government to govern or protect citizens - that way 'the masses' (as they call us working stiffs) will revolt and accept a 'strongman' usurper of the prior government.

From “VinceD2”: I will also disagree with any amnesty for DACA recipients. We have granted amnesty after amnesty and that has sent a message to would be illegal migrants to pack their bags and come our way because another amnesty will surely come. Besides, a big part of our problem is that Mexico's elites control the wealth there. Mexico needs major change and we will have a border as long as Mexico is a failed state.

Sending back a few million American educated Mexican citizens might be a very positive move as these folks might push for positive change in Mexico. As for the nonsense that it is somehow cruel to deport people, that is nonsense. People choose to change countries legally all the time, they adapt and do well. The DACAns 7 have their American education paid for by American taxpayers, that is quite a gift and one that will serve them well in their home country.

From “EleventhGenAmerican”: Population can't grow forever, this is the most basic fact of nature yet our politicians deem it a NECESSITY to "keep our economy growing", and by economy they mean population.

Until what point? Can't we all just agree there is a carrying capacity/optimal population size? I'd say it's a lot less than 350 million. If you look at Google Earth (in 3D it's even clearer), EVERY ARABLE SQUARE INCH of America is either farmland or housing. Period. There is virtually no wild space that wasn't designated park, ~100 years ago. The same goes for most of the planet, South America being the exception. Do this experiment; In Google Earth / Maps zoom in to any point on the map, it will be farmland, sloped land (nonarable or uninhabitable) or housing/city. Try it. We're full people, importing the 3rd World into America isn't helping ANYONE except oligarchs and the tiny fraction of BILLIONS of would-be immigrants themselves.

Endnotes for “Supplementary Information”

1. Josue Romero, “The immigration platform ‘Undocumedia’ has been rocked by sexual assault allegations,”

StudyBreaks.com (Aug. 6, 2018). See: https://studybreaks.com/thoughts/undocumedia-and-accountability/

2. Latino Rebels, “Iván Ceja resigns as executive director of UndocuMedia,” (August 3, 2018). See:


3. Latino Rebels, “The current UndocuMedia mess just got even messier,” LatinoRebels.com (August 15, 2018). See:


4. Julie Chavez Rodriguez, “Aspiring Americans share their stories as Senate debates immigration reform,” The White

House Blog (May 21, 2013). See: https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/blog/2013/05/21/aspiring-americans-...

5. Jessica Guynn, “Mark Zuckerberg, undocumented immigrants 'hack' immigration reform,” Los Angeles Times (Nov.

20, 2013). See: http://articles.latimes.com/2013/nov/20/business/la-fi-tn-mark-zuckerber...

6. Stuart H. Hurlbert, “Exploiting my Peruvian friend - How Mark Zuckerberg, Joe Green, and FWD.us lie and

accelerate the brain drain from South America,” The Social Contract 24(4): 21-27 (2014). See:


Hurlbert is professor of biology emeritus at San Diego State University.