Why a Banking Heiress Spent Her Fortune on Keeping Immigrants Out

His internal memorandums betrayed the cold calculus behind his attentions. “Mrs. May has been our single biggest supporter. She just gave us another $400,000,” he wrote. “That relationship is pretty well under control.”

Patrick Burns, an early employee of FAIR who would often talk to Mrs. May at the group’s events, saw her as vulnerable. “She was isolated up in Ligonier and John was a predator who got inside her perimeter wire and basically found a source of money to fund the immigration reform movement,” he said in an interview. “John looked at Cordy as a buffalo to hunt and bone out for wealth.”

Mrs. May faced criticism even from within her family for the groups she supported. A young cousin asked whether her causes weren’t discriminatory, racist or, as Mrs. May recalled in a letter, “the one that really puts my teeth on edge … ‘elitist.’”

She produced a five-page typed response, rife with comments about Filipinos “pouring” into Hawaii and “Orientals and Indians” sneaking across “long stretches of unmanned border” with Canada.

She compared medical science’s success in reducing infant mortality rates to veterinarians prolonging the lives “of useless cattle.” Birthrates had dropped in a few areas, she noted, and millions died of starvation every year, but population growth rates continued to climb. “Even wars no longer make much dent; during 11 years of conflict, both North and South Vietnam showed a net increase in population,” she wrote.

Legal and illegal immigration led to overpopulation, she said, “the root cause of unemployment, inflation, urban sprawl, highway (and skyway) congestion, shortages of all sorts (not the least of which is energy), vanishing farmland, environmental deterioration and civil unrest.”

Mrs. May’s Laurel Foundation gave $5,000 to the Institute for Western Values to distribute a translation of the French dystopian novel “The Camp of the Saints” in the United States. The book, about an invasion of poor immigrants overwhelming Europe, is an essential text in white-nationalist circles and has often been cited by the former Trump adviser Steve Bannon. A subsequent English edition was published by the Social Contract Press, which was founded by Dr. Tanton and funded by Mrs. May’s foundation.