Wednesday, August 14, 2019

"Why a Banking Heiress Spent Her Fortune on Keeping Immigrants Out"


she was heralded as potentially “the richest baby in the world.”


Mrs. May’s story helps explain the ascendance of once-fringe views in the debate over immigration in America, including exaggerated claims of criminality, disease or dependency on public benefits among migrants.


Her twin passions, protecting natural habitats and helping women prevent unplanned pregnancies, merged over time into a single goal of preserving the environment by discouraging offspring altogether. “The unwanted child is not the problem,” she would later write, “but, rather, the wanted one that society, for diverse cultural reasons, demands.”


The sheer number of groups nurtured with Mrs. May’s money — dozens over four decades — played an important role in the success of the anti-immigration movement by giving it the appearance of broad-based support. Groups would send representatives to appear before Congress, talk to journalists and provide briefs in lawsuits, without disclosing their common origins and funding.


Mrs. May left almost everything to the Colcom Foundation. In 2005, $215 million from her family trust poured into the foundation’s coffers, along with another $30 million from her personal estate. As her affairs were wound up, another $176 million transferred from her estate in 2006.

In all, since Mrs. May’s death, the anti-immigration groups have received $180 million. The market value of Colcom’s assets is $500 million, more than she bequeathed it in the first place.