Open-borders funder, granting $71 million between 2003 and 2014
Funding conduit for larger organizations like George Soros’ Open Society Institute
The Four Freedoms Fund (FFF) was established in 2003 by Geri Mannion (a director with the Carnegie Corporation of New York) and Taryn Higashi (deputy director of the Ford Foundation’s Human Rights Unit). The Fund's name was suggested by Craig McGarvey, a consultant and former program officer of the James Irvine Foundation, who was inspired by the Norman Rockwell paintings based on former President Franklin Roosevelt's famous “Four Freedoms” speech.
FFF's mission is “to secure the full integration of immigrants as active participants in our democracy.” Toward that end, the organization funds state-based and regional groups that:
advocate for local and state-based policies promoting immigrant integration on the social, political, and economic levels;
inform the general public and legislators about the many valuable contributions that immigrants have made to the U.S.;
connect state-level immigrant-rights groups with those whose work is nationwide;
encourage immigrants to take full advantage of naturalization services, English-language and civic-education programs, and voter-registration opportunities if they are eligible;
address such issues as detentions, deportations, due process, and “harsh enforcement” of immigration laws;
work to connect immigrants with native-born Americans who could serve as potential allies; and/or
make their voices heard in national strategy and advocacy debates, particularly as regards certain targeted geographic areas with large or growing immigrant communities.
Geri Mannion has stated that she and Taryn Higashi were motivated to form FFF by what they perceived as a post-9/11 “anti-immigrant backlash” on the part of “native-born citizens.” That backlash, she contends, spawned an alarming increase in hate crimes against immigrants in the U.S., thereby “further complicat[ing] the process of [their] integration” into the larger society.
In 2009 Mannion declared that because of “increased anti-immigrant rhetoric” and “increases in profiling, especially among Arab, Middle Eastern, and other people of color” since 9/11, FFF was redoubling its efforts “to provide support for many of the legal and advocacy groups that can help ensure that [immigrants'] individual legal rights aren’t abused.”
Higashi, meanwhile, lamented that the “rhetoric of hate groups, nativists and vigilantes has gained a strong foothold in the immigrant debate.” She was optimimistic, however, that with the ascendancy of the newly elected Obama administration—which she viewed as “so international in focus and so welcoming and supportive of the diversity created by immigration”—there would be “an opportunity for the immigrant integration and rights field to join in helping move policies in a wide number of issue areas that will benefit the larger public good.”
Several times each year, FFF sponsors gatherings that allow its grantees to share information and build relationships with one another. The Fund also provides direct, one-on-one support for those grantees.
Moreover, the FFF staff is constantly researching and assessing changes in the immigrant-rights field, within specific states and at the federal level. It then analyzes and shares this information on an ongoing basis with its donor steering committee.
Current member foundations of FFF include three of the originals—Carnegie, Ford, and the Open Society Institute—as well as the Evelyn and Walter Haas Jr. Fund, the Gill Foundation, the Horace Hagedorn Foundation, the J.M. Kaplan Fund, the JPB Foundation, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Unbound Philanthropy, and the Western Union Foundation.
In 2008, Deepak Bhargava’s Center for Community Changehonored Geri Mannion and Taryn Higashi with its “Champion Award” for “their extraordinary work to create, nurture and network a whole field of immigrant rights and advocacy organizations.” In 2009, Mannion and Higashi were given the Robert W. Scrivner Award by the Council on Foundations, in recognition of FFF’s work to tie local immigrant groups to the larger national movement.
In 2007, FFF provided early funding for Welcoming America, an organization that went on, during the Obama administration, to lead an aggressive public-relations campaign on behalf of nine agencies whose objective was to facilitate the importation of refugees to the United States. Those agencies received huge payments from the White House’s $1 billion U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program, and they included Catholic Charities, the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, the World Relief Corporation, the Church World Service, Episcopal Migration Ministries, the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, the International Rescue Committee, the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, and the Ethiopian Community Development Council. In 2015, Welcoming America sought in particular to crush “pockets of resistance” to a massive influx of Muslim refugees from Syria, a nation ravaged by civil war and replete with terrorists.