The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.

FAIR: Crossing the Rubicon of Hate

By Mark Potok on December 11, 2007 - 8:46 am, Posted in Anti-Immigrant, Hate Groups

The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) is almost certainly the most-quoted immigration restriction organization in America. In just the last few weeks, its leaders have enlightened cable viewers with their views on such topics as “American ‘Intifada’ in Our Future?” “Driving While Illegal,” “Should ALL Illegal Aliens Be Deported?” and “Economic Impact of Migration.” In the past six years, FAIR officials have testified at least 30 times to Congress. Day in and day out, FAIR is taken seriously as a mainstream commentator on the immigration debate.

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It shouldn’t be. The founder, chief ideologue and long-time funder of FAIR is a racist. Key staff members have ties to white supremacist groups, some are members, and some have spoken at hate group functions. FAIR has accepted more than $1 million from a racist foundation devoted to studies of race and IQ, and to eugenics — the pseudo-science of breeding a better human race that was utterly discredited by the Nazi euthanasia program. It spreads racist conspiracy theories. Its political ads have caused numerous politicians, Democratic and Republican, to denounce it.

Much of this has been known for years. But last February, underlining the way that FAIR does business, its leaders met with the leaders of Vlaams Belang — a hastily renamed Belgian party that under a prior appellation, Vlaams Blok, was officially banned by the Belgian Supreme Court as a racist and xenophobic group. It was, for some, a final straw — the Rubicon of hate, as it were. When FAIR officials met with Vlaams Belang leaders to seek their “advice” on immigration, we decided to take another look at FAIR. When our work was done, it was obvious that FAIR qualified as a hate group. Early next year, when the Southern Poverty Law Center’s annual hate group list is published, FAIR will be on the list.

The results of our investigation are contained in an article being published today in SPLC’s Intelligence Report and on the Web. In addition to this evidence, the Report in 2002 published a major investigation of John Tanton, who founded FAIR and remains a key player on its board today. A 2001 Report article also included brief profiles of immigration restrictionist groups, including FAIR.

The identification of FAIR as a bona fide hate group is important. FAIR is the hub of the American nativist movement, the group that more than any other has contributed to the rancid turn the national immigration discussion has taken. With FAIR fanning the flames of xenophobic intolerance, hate groups, hate crimes and hate speech directed at foreigners and Latinos continue to rise in America.

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  • Philip Peterson

    Several people have said things such as “The only way anyone can come here from many countries now is by illegal means.”

    This is factually incorrect, as the US picks up approximatly one million LEGAL immagrants per year.

  • serafin trejo

    With the passage of the Nazi like anti immigrant law in Arizona, SPLC was more than vindicated in designating FAIR as a hate group.(FARE has taken credit for helping write the law) and all people with humane ethical values will thank SPLC for shedding a bright light on such poor lost souls, they deserve our sincere pity and prayers.

  • Jersey Dave

    No I can’t blame people who want to come to the US for a better life.

    Which is why when a Japanese couple I knew wanted to move to the US and were denied I was upset, and when a nice german girl who had au paired here wanted to live her, and could not, I got upset.

    Of course any Mexican seems to be able to walk over the border and no one cares.

    Why is policy racist against people who are Asian or European, and biased against people who try to come here honestly?

    See, that’s the point. Let’s do something above board that is honest across the board, instead of a policy where the government says one thing and does another. Arizona’s point is that the current policy or more properly the lack of one puts them at risk, and they want the issue to get attention so that it can be fixed above board and in an honest manner. That is not racism, that is honesty and democracy.

  • Young American

    The media loves to play deceitful games with the words they use. All Arizona did is pass a law against crime, and it allows the authorities more power to address existing crimes. It’s really not about “immigration” at all. It’s about people committing crimes, and illegally entering this country is a crime!

    Unless, of course, you think the problem Poland had in September of 1939 was an immigration issue, with large numbers of Germans entering Poland as undocumented visitors.

    And bank robbers are not criminals, but just hard working people making an undocumented withdrawal. And they’re doing it in pursuit of a “better life” — you can’t blame them for that, can you?

  • Kimono Kijiwa

    Zorro: MECHA, La Raza, etc have no real political power. They mostly are just a bunch of aging professors and university students. Also it’s a Chicano movement, not a foreign movement.

    If you want to go after some California extremists who actually have political and financial power, go after Scientology.

  • Jessica Leon

    While “by definition” illegal immigrants are criminals,their crimes are indeed paid duing the process to fix their status. & as far as all immigrants acknowledging they are breaking the rules is not at all true. Children are sometimes brought to the states without being aware of their actions.

  • Lars

    Calling FAIR a hate group is like calling the Democratic Party a party of conservative principles. Its preposterous. Articles like this just further prove how deliberately biased, deceptive and outright malicious the SPLC is. You can’t fool everyone with your lies because the more of this propagandist, broad brush-stroking, America-hating nonsense you promote the more the unsuspecting begin to realize how much credibility you lack. SPLC has nothing to do with serious monitoring of real hate groups. You are merely a front group for radical idealism. As a real immigrant myself who had to play by the rules and wait my turn to get in I am deeply offended that you would call anyone opposed to illegal immigration “racists” and “xenophobes”. I am certainly none of those things but I do resent the cost associated with illegal immigration and the fact that so many have to do it the right way while others simply hop a fence and refuse to leave and are protected by groups like yours.

  • JustaDog

    Wow cj – spoken with such hatred for a group that is only interested in obeying the law of the land.

    For all of those that have no problems with the thought of illegal aliens, just think about the thousands of deaths directly attributed to them – and now the swine flu.

    If any hate group should banish it should be the “Southern Poverty Law Center” – a group of communists that will use lies and deception to undermine America as well as their plague of hate mongering.

  • cj

    FAIR IS GOT TO GO. It is time that this hate group to banish.

  • otto

    I agree with the classification of FAIR as a hate group. The only way anyone can come here from many countries now is by illegal means. If these people do not come here, they will be in poverty forever and may even starve. They only want a better life. They take jobs no American wants anyway. I say let everyone who wants to come to America from anywhere in the world come on over. That is the spirit of our immigrant country.

  • Hiro

    I would say the SPLC calling FAIR a hate group is akin to the pot calling the kettle black. SPLC hates the U.S. Constitution, and will vehemently attack supporters of constitutional government. They do no real research, they are a partisan shill factory just like any neo-conservative think-tank. And like such partisan groups, they do not deal in facts, only in propaganda.

  • Gorf,

    If you hooked anyone on the board of FAIR up to a lie detector and ask them the same question(s) would any of them pass?

    I fund it humorous that you attack the authors rather than their comments in your supposed rebuttal.

    Anyone can “gaurantee” something when they have nothing on the line. What are you honestly willing to give up in the case that you’re proven wrong?

    You will be hooked up to a lie detector as you publically make your above claims prior to them answering your questions above the the FAIR board would next be hooked to lie detectors to refute the comments made about FAIR in this article.

  • ironvampire

    I noticed that Morris dees and Mark Potok are always calling everyone else a racist. If you hooked up either one of these guys to a lie detector test and asked if they believe in racial equality i guarantee they would not pass the test. They are phonies who do not believe in equality but want to exploit “civil rights” nonsense to make money. Ask mark potok while tied to the lie detector if he believes jews are superior to everyone else and if he answered no you can bet he would fail the test. This is the best way to prove these whitchhunters for what they are. neither will ever take a lie detector test.Ii guarantee it.

  • Parker

    Thank you SPLC for your report. There is certainly a lot of hate out there, you can point out the logic of our economy and the broken immigration system a zillion times. However the anti immigrant crowd seems not to be able to apply logic to our situation no matter how many reports and statistics show that illegal immigration is an essential part of the US economy, that employers hire, and people come for the work…every day people die crossing the boarder, and I have heard over and over again, that 19 people dying in a tractor trailer was good, because they deserved it.

  • misfitsRus

    Kudos to the SPLC.

    FAIR has taken the frustration deriving from issues that have nothing to do with Mexican immigrants (the subprime housing market collapse, our trillion dollar wars, etc) and created a scapegoat.

    There is a frenzy of anti-Hispanic comments on our local paper that did not exist 6 months ago. It is appalling. Hate + fear = idiocy squared, and we are beginning to sink into idiocy.

    People of conscience with backbone need to stand up to this hate mongering mania. Thank you for your courage.


    Why don’t you guys who complain about jobs being shipped overseas ask the US government to forbid US corporations doing business overseas? They should keep all the businesses here. There is not much money to make from those poor Chinese and Indians any way.

    They should not set up businesses in Mexico to compete with Mexican businesses either. That way, the Mexicans will still have their businesses and their jobs and won’t have to come to the US to look for jobs.

    The American elites are just thinking of making money for themselves. That is why middle class Americans are totally screwed up.

  • JustaDog

    “It doesn’t matter whether we are talking about legal or illegal immigration, Americans of Latino descent are being targeted.”

    Maybe because Latinos are the majority of law breaking illegal aliens?


  • huh?

    Not too long ago ther was an attack on a couple of teens eating at a popular Mexican food etablishment where I live. It was not whites attacking hispanics, it was hispanics attacking whites. The teens were doing nothing more than sitting, eating and talking and out of no where several hispanic teens attacked the two white teens. Many other incidents had happened before and after that one at the same place. During this one, no one in the retaurant helped the teens, it was a passer by who called 911. The teens did nothing to provoke the attack. You can not say that this is a one sided problem.

  • huh?

    Western man, I believe unlucky was saying that hate groups exist within races other than the “white” race. SPLC does have these groups listed as well.

  • JOsef

    It doesn’t matter whether we are talking about legal or illegal immigration, Americans of Latino descent are being targeted.

  • Western Man

    You missed my point, but on the contrary, you are correct. Jews, and non-Whites do hate White Supremacists and rightfully so. In other words, that’s only individuality and nothing near as a hatecrime. My point was about ORGANIZATIONS such as KKK/Neo-Nazi socialists/Vanguards or whatever they’re calling themselves is worthy to be listed as a hate group because an organization has many members within its chapters to be called a hate group. Therefore, an individual jew or non-whites who despise skinheads is not a “hate group” is just irrelevant.

  • unlucky 13

    Jews and black people hate people sometimes too.So do all minorities.Don’t pretend all hate-criminals are white.However,I agree that the SPLC is avaluable tool to have in the struggle to contain the likes of the KKK and the Nazis.Actually they track hate groups of several different types.ü

  • Western Man

    Kudos to SPLC!!!
    I give my props to all the reporters at SPLC and many newspaper organizations who work hard to expose the insidious truths about all these White Supremacists hate groups and their like. SPLC is like GodSend for all non-White Americans & Jewish communities who have been victimized over the years by KKK/Neo-Nazi and other White Supremacist militia-style hate groups. History has repeatly told us how dangerous and vile these groups are. To ignore our American history is doomed to keep this cycle of hatred alive. We must not forget the past when White Supremacists groups have been terrorizing and committing criminal acts of every kind, from noose hangings to lyching, from arson to vandalism, and from beatings to the worse crime of all- murder. Furthermore, they have a long history of violence perpetrated on nin-Whites and Jews long before “immigration debate” became a hot topic. We need more and more people like SPLC and many other anti-discrimination groups, civil rights including human rights groups to take a stand against the growing threat of domestic terrorism woefully created by Nativists Militias and other hate groups.
    They attack every race, hence, no race is immune to their “White Power” rage. Just in yesterday the latest incident occurred on a Native American tribe, the Klallan band from Port Angels, Washington where vandals spray painted “White Power” graffiti on a mural and other obscenities on the walls in a peaceful quiet tribal community This tells us that White Supremacist hates everybody no matter the color, race, legal or illegal.
    Keep up the good work SPLC!!!!

    We Need You!!!

  • Maalaea Jay

    FAIR sure must be doing many things right if they raised the hackles of vile lefty radicals the likes of Mark Potok (that pig reminds me a lot of the drunk from the old Jackie Gleason TV show) and Morris ‘Sleaze’ Dees of the SPLC, an extortionist shakedown group if there ever was one. The SPLC has zero credibility. Dees and Potok, shameless propagandists to the core, deserve the ol’ harp seal treatment. Face it, illegal aliens are criminals by definition. They need to be ferreted out, rounded up like cattle, and deported forthwith. Send Potok and Dees with ’em, I say.

  • Hugh

    “Zorro”, the “Mexica Movement” (or at least La Voz de Aztlan) is already listed as a “hate group” here, look it up. MeCHA, no matter how your favorite groups want to smear it, is NOT considered a hate group. You’re quoting a silly myth largely spoused by fear-mongering bigots (that Mexicans want to take over the Southwest through a so-called “Reconquista”-ask the average Mexican what that means and chances are they won’t know what you are talking about), and that proves that you have your panties in a bunch because your favorite anti “illegal” alien group is finally branded for what it is: a bigoted and xenophobic group.

  • zorro is dumb

    Um, Zorro, the Southern Poverty Law Center lists La Voz de Aztlan as a hate group.

  • Proud American

    Great reporting on FAIR! You have shed light on a racist / nativist organization. Too bad there aren’t more organizations like yours to enlighten us about what is rally going on behind these seemingly legitimate organizations.

    I believe that despite these racist lunatics, comprehensive immigration reform will pass in 2009 simply because it’s what the country needs.

  • joazinha

    The REAL crime was NOT the shooting of illegal alien drug smuggler Mexican Osvaldo Aldrete-Davila in self-defense by now UNJUSTLY imprisoned Border Patrol agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean. The REAL crime was ALDRETE-DAVILA’S attempt to SMUGGLE an ILLICIT DRUG into OUR country, and his VICIOUS ASSAULT of Agent Compean when Compean was trying to ARREST Aldrete-Davila. Yet Aldrete-Davila got of SCOT-FREE while Ramos and Compean were PUNISHED for DOING their job! However, the tide IS starting to TURN! Just last week, on December 3, 2007, a SECOND appeal hearing for Ramos and Compean began in the Fifth Circuit Court of New Orleans. Their prosecutor US Attorney Johnny Sutton and his assistant were there. And MY, those Circuit Court justices GRILLED Sutton’s assistant SO HARD that he COULDN’T GET a WORD in EDGEWISE! This SO UNNERVED Sutton that at the end of the day, he DASHED OUT a SIDE door to AVOID the MEDIA, and HID from them for SOME days! Late last week, the FEDS FINALLY acknowledged that Aldrete-Davila had LIED in the Ramos-Compean case! The TRUTH is that ALDRETE-DAVILA committed the crime, NOT Ramos and Compean who are REAL American heroes!

  • Piper

    I thank you for investigating this organization. They have propagated many myths and misinformation regarding immigration of any sort.

    Everyone can agree that the current immigration system is broken. We need to have correct, valid and objective information in order to make good decisions about how to go forward.

  • Tom

    The previous comments make it pretty clear where the hate speech is coming from. FAIR in its present form still associates with and supports other groups such as the Minutemen, who in turn have close ties to White Supremicist and Nazi groups. Look it up.

    The immigration system is broken — citizens, legal and illegal immigrants all suffer from the disconnect between the current laws and the realities of our economy and communities. The solution is not scapegoating immigrants or increasing enforcement of bad laws, any more than increasing the oppression of Black people was the solution to Jim Crow laws. The laws must change, and in MLK’s words, “We must all learn to live together as brothers, or we will all die together as fools.”

  • pjgoober

    This is an absolutely disgusting thing for the SPLC to do. The essence of intelligent debate is to argue with opponents arguments, not their motivations. This just shows that the pro-illegal alien side can’t win on the facts, so they have to just smear.

  • pjgoober

    Mary H de G,

    let me get this straight…So you are saying that if anyone who wants to immigrate to america out of the 6.5 billion people on earth have to wait a long time to come to america, or even (gasp!) aren’t ever allowed to come, then our immigration system is broken and they can’t be blamed for illegally immigrating (let alone deported)? There are 5 billion people that live in countries with average incomes lower than the average Mexican. If the US allowed 10 million-plus people to immigrate per year, we would still have illegal immigration attempts, because of the amount of poor people on earth. Your view thus leads directly and quickly to an America with hundreds of millions more people.

  • DM

    Thank You SPLC for bringing attention to this xenophobic organization.

  • DM

    Finally! The hate and mis-information that spews from this organization has to be stopped. They are opposed all types of immigration .Legal and Illegal immigration.

  • Alberto

    It’s about time somebody spoke up about FAIR. Thank you SPLC. They’re long overdue for hate group classification. I’m shocked that the media and our government is so willing to give groups like FAIR, the Minutemen, CIS, NumbersUSA, etc. so much airtime, with no compunction or even an awareness of who they’re dealing with. They have to know. Why do they do it? They must assume their audience won’t figure it out.

    One question: What about CIS? As I recall, they were an offshoot from FAIR, and more or less use the same nativist playbook. They appear to be gaining ground rapidly lately in media and governmental exposure. They seem only a tiny bit more academic sounding and cautious in their rhetoric, but it’s essentially the same pablum.

    Expose them all SPLC!!

    By the way JustaDog, these groups are indeed anti-immigration, not just anti-illegal immigration. Check their sites and see for yourself. So, SPLC is using accurate language. It’s people like you that use obfuscation as a weapon.

    And Zorro: Mecha and La Raza are nothing like you describe them. I’m not defending them – I wish they’d change their name and take down some of their ancient rhetoric from their websites too – but you’re engaging in some serious hyperbole here, and I’m pretty sure it’s intentional. You know full well that the reconquista conspiracy theory is pure unadulterated BS. Yes, there are some “wingnut” extremists that believe in this idea, but they’re a teeny-tiny minority of Hispanics. Your fear-mongering about the reconquista is akin to my warning about a White conspiracy to racially cleanse the nation due to the KKK’s beliefs. Well, they are white, aren’t they? Makes perfect sense. Guilt by association (or skin color or surname as the case may be).

  • JustaDog

    Current immigration law is not working because the laws we have are not being enforced.

    “and while the US guts the economies of other countries” – uh – like which countries? If anything American’s money is being “donated” by politicians to other countries – by the BILLIONS.

    “The great majority of them have no criminal intent” – this is a lie since each person that came into the USA illegally did so knowingly – therefore criminal intent. Those that work do so illegally – again, criminal intent. Illegals are each and everyone – a criminal. So are the companies that hire them.

    Socialists don’t believe in borders, so to them there is no such thing as an “illegal” alien.

  • Zorro

    You keep on trying to tie John Tanton to FAIR. Is he active in FAIR today? NO! So he founded it! Does it mean he has anything to do with the present day organization? If you found any proof whatsoever that John Tanton is guilty of being more than protective of his own race, much like LA RAZA and MeCHa are today, then why don’t you print that? But instead you have to reach back in history to try to slander the name of a very good organization. Your arguments are weak. It’s almost like “because we said so”. Your agenda is clear. The destruction of the United States as we know it by the invasion of illegal aliens from third world countries, so that the middle class is destroyed in the process and thus being able to hand our country over to the globalist elites who apparently are pulling your puppet strings. Your group probably has ties to and all those left wingnuts.

    Your hate watch list only includes groups that fight illegal immigration. It is not truly a hate watch list or you would include the Mexica Movement and MecHA in that list becasue they are both calling for RECONQUISTA which means – eliminate whitey from the US and take back the US for Mexicans. You apparently don’t consider that hateful?

    Your group is a SHAM and has a very clear COMMUNIST agenda. I don’t know who really takes you seriously any more.

  • Mary H de G

    If the US had a reasonable and working **legal** immigration system, then the distinction claimed by JustaDog might make sense. It doesn’t. While our legal system is set up in such a way that reasonable people who would once have been welcomed here are left without hope, and while the US guts the economies of other countries, people will just come. The great majority of them have no criminal intent, have not broken the law before entering, and don’t do so afterward except by working without permission.

    Our present immigraton law is working about like Prohibition did. It’s backfiring badly. Trying to build the walls higher and bolt the doors tighter and keep more toys for ourselves will only make the situation worse. It undermines the moral authority that the US might have had in the world, and makes us a target of resentment.

    Yeah, I’m feeling a bit attitudinal today. I just heard yet another story — an old lady I knew, a legal immigrant, died. She was going to be buried here, and relatives from her place of birth asked permission to come to the funeral — and were denied. This is wrong, it’s cruel, it’s immoral.

  • JustaDog

    Your site consistently substitutes “immigration” where “illegal immigration” should be used. You lie and deceive your readers, which is why this comment probably won’t be staying around for long.

    It is your group and groups like yours that spews hate and promotes injustice. While law-abiding groups welcome legal immigration they want the law followed and are against ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION.

    Illegal immigration really isn’t immigration as much as it is an invasion of law-breakers. But from reading your site no one would ever know that would they?

    Ah, but you know what you are doing and the deception you are promoting, don’t you!