PLAYER PROFILE

Roy Beck

President and Founder of NumbersUSA

Roy Beck is the president and founder of NumbersUSA, a think tank and grassroots organization that advocates for reduced immigration on the argument that recent numerical levels depress wages and job opportunities for American workers. Beck advocates through NumbersUSA for the reduction of legal immigration from the average that has prevailed since 1990 of roughly 1 million to a number between 550,000 and 600,000.

Trained as a journalist at the University of Missouri, Beck spent two decades in newspapers focusing on environmental issues, religion, and public policy. In 1990, he pivoted from covering Congress to writing about immigration issues for journals and magazines before ultimately transitioning to advocacy work. In 1996 he founded NumbersUSA with funding raised through an umbrella organization run by John Tanton, who was then a leader in the formation of the country’s modern immigration reduction movement and a defender of European-American ethnicity as the defining characteristic of the United States. During the same period, Beck edited Tanton’s 1994 book, The Immigrant Invasion: How Third World Immigration is Destroying the First World and What Must be Done to Stop It, and served as an editor for The Social Contract, a quarterly founded by Tanton.

In a 1994 article published by The Atlantic, Beck described an idyllic European-centric social order in Wausau, Wisconsin, being frayed by a rapid increase in the number of Hmong immigrants from Southeast Asia. He wrote that the U.S. had not made a bold reduction in immigration since a 1924 law substantially reduced immigration and gave priority to western-European immigrants. Beck ruminated that returning to the country’s immigration-reduction policies of the 1920s could help bring about “a recoverable paradise” and “social healing” for places like Wausau.

Despite their collaboration and shared ideas, Beck emphasizes that NumbersUSA has been independent of Tanton since 2002, and the organization’s website includes a forceful statement from Beck against immigrant bashing, admonishing the public not to blame immigrants but rather Congress for current immigration problems. The site prominently displays a picture of the late Barbara Jordan — the civil rights leader and Democratic congresswoman from Texas — and asserts its support for the recommendations of the U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform which she chaired.

NumbersUSA was at odds with the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations and became marginalized, but remained influential behind the scenes. In 2007, when Congress was considering immigration reform legislation that would have provided legal status and a pathway to citizenship for millions of immigrants, NumbersUSA flooded lawmakers’ offices with talking points and reasons for voting against the bill, which ultimately did not make it to a vote. The organization waged a similarly successful behind-the-scenes effort in 2010 against the DREAM Act and, in 2013 and 2014, against the so-called Gang of Eight legalization and immigration expansion bill.

Reflecting on these successful efforts in a 2014 profile in The New York Times, Beck remarked, “We did as much as possible to make immigration radioactive in as many places as possible.” NumbersUSA claims more than 8 million supporters in its online grassroots network, with Facebook showing NumbersUSA with the largest fan base of any single-issue advocacy group.

With Trump’s election, Beck has found an open embrace in Washington. “We’ve been in the wilderness,” Beck told The Washington Post, “and overnight we are not anymore.”

SOURCES:

Beck’S IDEAS

  • Border Security

    Beck supports increased funding for border security and more leeway for law enforcement. He advocates for Border Patrol agents to have access to all federal lands. But it should be noted that with a focus on reducing legal immigration, Beck often de-emphasizes border security in favor of an economically-minded immigration policy that would, in his view, do more to protect American workers.

  • Border Wall

    While Beck supports the construction of barriers at the southern border, he prefers the least amount of fencing possible because of the environmental degradation caused by the fencing.

  • Detention

    Beck supports the use of detention for everyone who is in the country without legal status and for all asylum seekers while their court cases are pending.

  • Immigration Courts

    Beck advocates for reforming the judicial process in the immigration court system, including “restricting relief from removal, to expedite the process and reduce the backlog of cases.”

  • Undocumented Population

    Beck does not support a pathway to citizenship and supports deporting as much of the undocumented population as is possible. More than any other policy objective he routinely emphasizes the potential of a nationwide mandatory E-Verify system for checking legality of applicants for employment. He advocates for ending birthright citizenship for “illegal aliens and foreign visitors.”

  • ICE

    Beck supports the agency’s deportation powers and advocates for expanding “expedited removal to include all illegal aliens with criminal convictions.” Through NumbersUSA, Beck funded a 2012 lawsuit that a group of ICE agents filed against the federal government. The suit alleged that a Department of Homeland Security directive ordering ICE agents not to deport certain teenagers was, in effect, forcing them to break federal law.

  • DACA

    For years, Beck has been a leading critic of the DACA program. However, in a November 2018 op-ed, he reluctantly backed support for H.R. 4760, which would grant permanent status for many DACA recipients in exchange for eliminating the diversity lottery, lowering annual immigration levels, requiring mandatory DNA testing for immigrants (to prove family relations), prohibiting “sanctuary city” laws, revising and expanding the E-Verify system, and increasing funding for border security.

  • Asylum

    Beck has argued for lowering the number of refugees allowed into the country every year, pointing to the fact that many of them cite threats of violence from political leaders that are removed from office shortly thereafter. In a 2018 interview, Beck asked, “What are they doing here claiming asylum against a government that doesn’t exist anymore?” Beck advocates for restricting asylum to those who are unable to return to their home country due to state persecution.

  • Central America Policy

    Beck believes that the U.S. cannot solve poverty and instability everywhere in the world and advocates for each country to address these issues internally.

  • Visas

    Beck believes that immigration harms American workers. He has called a mandatory E-Verify system a “number one legislative goal.”