New York Times: Letter to the Editor


Mrs. May, the benefactor of Colcom Foundation, loved, and her philanthropy reached, all people. She drew no distinction in philanthropy or friendship. Her aid was often anonymous as she never sought personal recognition. Mrs. May would have adamantly opposed any form of racial bias. The New York Times’ recent article combines a few notes with factual omissions to portray the 76 years of a different person.

Mrs. May came to the population issue through an environmental ethic. Balancing ourselves with ecosystems remains an all-defining challenge for humanity. The planet continues to add a million people (births minus deaths) every four days. Some would prefer to ignore that reality. Mr. Trump’s environmental policies are antithetical to her environmental concerns. He has vowed to increase immigration. She saw lower immigration as a step toward sustainability. As a champion of gender equity, she funded early family planning initiatives. Rights taken for granted today rest on the courage and foresight of women yesterday.

Your article covers her foundation’s charitable contributions to reduce immigration from the current unprecedented high level. These publicly-disclosed donations are intended to uphold the dignity of labor with a living wage. High immigration enables corporate interests to drive down the American wage. The more interesting news story isn’t how much Colcom is contributing, but rather how its funding has been dwarfed by big business and corporate lobbyists. Corporate-funded lobbying is designed to undercut American wages by maintaining access to foreign job seekers. The law of supply and demand affects wages.

Colcom Foundation supports public education for an informed civic dialogue on the long term sustainable level of immigration. According to Pew Research, in just five decades, the U.S. population of 329 million will increase by 117 million; immigration will account for 103 million. Is this a good idea?

The topic would seem to merit a discussion in a deliberative democracy. The criteria may include the dignity of labor, water resources for the 40 states with impending shortages, infrastructure, greenhouse gas emissions, etc. People of goodwill should be able to reach a consensus on this public policy.

As my quote in the NYT article indicates, Colcom Foundation insists this conversation not be marred by racial bias. The starting point is to respect immigrants as honorable people and fellow citizens. If a deliberative democracy cannot have this conversation, then the people most in need of a helping hand will continue to pay the price of indifference.

John F. Rohe
Vice-President, Philanthropy
Colcom Foundation


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