Biden EPA Giving Millions to ‘Immigrant Justice’ Groups Registering, ‘Mobilizing’ Dem-Leaning Voting Bloc

New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice public assembly
by Nick Pope


The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is handing out millions of taxpayer dollars to a coalition featuring two immigration-focused activist organizations, one which pushes voter registration for traditionally Democrat-leaning demographics.

As part of a $600 million round of grant funding issued in December 2023 to advance “environmental justice,” the EPA gave out $50 million to a Fordham University-led coalition including the New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC) and the New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice (NJAIJ). The NYIC explicitly engages in “nationally recognized” voter registration and get-out-the-vote efforts and pushed for a New York City law that allows non-citizens to vote, while the NJAIJ has advocated for same-day voter registration and maintains a voter registration portal on its website.

DCNF-logo“Environmental justice” is the combination of left-of-center views about climate and energy with social justice ideology. The concept has become a major plank of the EPA’s grantmakingenforcement and regulatory agendas throughout President Joe Biden’s first term.

However, both the NYIC and the NJAIJ do not seem to focus much on environmental causes, instead promoting civic engagement for recent immigrants, typically a Democrat-leaning voting bloc. Nevertheless, the two groups will partner with Fordham University to dish out taxpayer cash to smaller, local groups pursuing “environmental justice.”

Several analyses published within the last ten years — including papers by the the National Bureau of Economic Research, the Center for Immigration Studies and the Kaiser Family Foundation — have found that immigrants tend to identify more frequently with the Democratic Party.

The EPA is having groups like the one led by Fordham serve as grantmakers because that structure purportedly makes it easier for smaller, grassroots organizations to access federal funds. The Fordham-led coalition will also support “environmental justice” pursuits in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and eight federally-recognized tribal nations in addition to New York and New Jersey.

“All Regional Grantmakers are required to pass-through at least 80 percent of the total $50 million to communities through subgrants,” an EPA spokesperson told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “Currently, EPA is negotiating with Fordham University’s Grantmaker team on the final allocation of funding between their partners. The 20 percent of remaining funding is available to Fordham University and partners to stand up processes to conduct outreach, issue competitive grant solicitations, and to track the funding and progress of all subgrants issued in EPA Region 2.”

“The EJ Thriving Communities Grantmaking program awards cooperative agreements to Grantmakers, where EPA staff will be substantially involved in the negotiations, tracking, oversight, and implementation of each Grantmaker program throughout the three-year performance period,” the spokesperson continued, adding that “proper oversight and stewardship of taxpayer dollars is a priority” for the program.

However, government watchdog organizations told the DCNF that the EPA giving groups like NYIC and NJAIJ large sums of cash to distribute poses obvious and significant red flags.

“The fact that the EPA is, once again, operating well beyond its statutorily-defined purpose to advance a political agenda shouldn’t surprise anyone, given its history and recent Supreme Court rulings,” Sofia De Vito, a legal fellow for the Foundation for Government Accountability, told the DCNF. “The EPA, of all agencies, clearly has no business doling out government grants to private groups that focus on turning out voters, but the specific groups it has chosen to fund is deeply concerning.”

“These groups have nothing to do with the environment, and everything to do with advancing the radical, divisive agenda of the Left,” De Vito continued. “Now, flush with cash courtesy of the EPA’s generosity in handing out taxpayer dollars, these groups can put those dollars to work to benefit the Left in the lead up to the next election.”

The NYIC runs a so-called “Civic Engagement Collaborative” that engages in voter registration and focuses in part on “mobilizing voters,” according to NYIC’s website. NYIC’s “Civic Engagement Collaborative” also explicitly “conducts voter education and get-out-the-vote activities,” and includes the “New Citizen Voter Registration Project,” which NYIC claims is the largest voter registration initiative in all of New York state.

The organization also led efforts in the push for New York City’s so-called “Our City, Our Vote” law, which would allow non-citizens to vote in local elections but is currently stuck in the courts amid legal challenge, according to Politico.

Moreover, the NYIC has received large donations from prominent left-of-center grantmaking organizations, according to a DCNF review of tax filings. Some of the organizations that have given generously to NYIC in the past include the Tides FoundationNEO Philanthropy and the New Venture Fund, a nonprofit overseen by liberal philanthropic behemoth Arabella Advisors.

Meanwhile, the NJAIJ also engages in advocacy campaigns focused on a similar range of left-wing causes.

NJAIJ has published slides breaking down the percentages of voting-age people who are immigrants in numerous New Jersey districts, and also pushed the New Jersey Redistricting Commission to adopt “Racial Equity Unity Maps” that it drew up alongside other similarly-minded organizations. The commission did not implement all of the changes proposed by NJAIJ and its partners in that effort, but the organization asserts that “important progress was made” nevertheless.

NJAIJ has also advocated for legislation that would establish a reparations task force and allow previously-convicted individuals to serve on juries, according to a document recapping the group’s advocacy efforts in 2023.

The organization also features a portal on its website that provides materials detailing how certain ex-convicts can restore their ability to vote in elections. NJAIJ has advocated for a state bill that would make it more difficult for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to deport illegal immigrants residing in New Jersey.

The EPA is expecting that its selected awardees will start distributing the cash to sub-grantees by the autumn of this year, though it remains to be seen if those exchanges will occur ahead of election day.

“It seems as though the Biden administration may be using the EPA as a slush fund for NGOs pushing its agenda. Even more disturbing, some of these organizations have a considerable presence registering and turning out voters in regions that heavily support the President and his party, and they partner with groups that endorse and support candidates for partisan political offices,” Michael Chamberlain, the executive director of Protect the Public’s Trust, a government watchdog organization, told the DCNF. “Money is fungible, so even if these funds aren’t used directly for those purposes, this frees up plenty of ‘walking around money’ for partisan activists.”

“The EPA also seems to have structured these programs to shovel money out the door very quickly and in a way that the eventual recipients are at least one step removed from the agency, making it more difficult from a monitoring standpoint and for a future administration with different policy goals to cut off the spigot,” Chamberlain added.

The NJAIJ, NYIC and Fordham University all did not respond to requests for comment.

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Nick Pope is a reporter at Daily Caller News Foundation.
Photo “New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice” by New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice.



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