For the third time in seven years, members of the Sierra Club this spring rejected attempts by activists to take over the powerful environmental organization and convert it into an anti-immigration powerhouse.
Some 15% of the Club's 750,000 members voted in April to reject a ballot initiative that would have moved the Club from a position of neutrality on American immigration policy to one that favors clamping down the borders.
At the same time, members voted down five anti-immigration candidates to the Club board. These candidates favored the same kind of policy change.
Both the ballot initiative and the anti-immigration board candidates were supported by SUSPS, which was formerly known as Sierrans for U.S. Population Stabilization but now goes by its acronym alone. Alan Kuper, a principal SUSPS founder, was one of the board candidates who lost by five-to-one margins.
"Sadly, none of the SUSPS candidates was elected and our ballot question lost badly," a despondent SUSPS E-mail reported in late April. The E-mail largely blamed MoveOn.org, a liberal organization that had worked against the anti-immigration candidates and ballot initiative.
Acting on a suggestion by anti-immigration maestro John Tanton, activists in 1998 tried to pass a similar ballot initiative but were beaten back. In 2004, a slate of anti-immigration activists made a strong run for the board, but were also defeated by 10-to-one margins after a bitter campaign. Intelligence Report Editor Mark Potok had written Club officials in late 2003 to warn them of a "hostile takeover attempt" by anti-immigration forces backed by a number of extremists.