A new website purports to expose the machinations of “extremist” organizations that supposedly are trying to stifle debate about immigration. These groups represent “the well-funded far-left anti-enforcement mob that is ‘the other side’ of the majority of Americans,” states the website, Center for Immigration Truth.
What Center for Immigration Truth doesn’t say is that the website is another project of John Tanton, a retired Michigan ophthalmologist who in many ways has been primary architect of the contemporary nativist movement. Tanton, who has a long history of bigotry and racist associations that has been documented by the Southern Poverty Law Center, is the registrant and administrator of the website, according to the Public Interest Registry database. The address in the registry is that of Tanton’s Social Contract Press, which publishes a quarterly journal featuring articles by prominent white supremacists. (The Social Contract Press is listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, or SPLC.)
The website launched several months ago with the motto “monitoring the subversive La Raza open borders network.” (The National Council of La Raza is a major Latino advocacy group that actually has supported several recent immigration enforcement measures.) The Center for Immigration Truth asserts that “the radical La Raza open borders lobby distorts facts and truth in order to promote their ethnic agenda.” The website cites more than a dozen other so-called members of this lobby, including prominent civil, human and workers’ rights groups such as the SPLC, Mexican American Legal Defense & Educational Fund (MALDEF), the Anti-Defamation League and the Service Employees International Union. (For the record, the SPLC doesn’t advocate for open borders, but instead aims to expose bigotry as it occurs in the immigration debate.) The Center for Immigration Truth provides links to several organizations founded by Tanton, including NumbersUSA, the Federation for American Immigration Reform, the Center for Immigration Studies and Pro-English.
Though the website is designed to appeal to mainstream immigration restrictionists, Tanton’s views are far from mainstream. For years, he has described contemporary immigrants as inferior. He has questioned the “educability” of Latinos and written that “for European-American culture to persist requires a European-American majority, and a clear one at that.” In a letter to Roy Beck, head of NumbersUSA, Tanton wondered “whether the minorities who are going to inherit California … can run an advanced society?” He has also corresponded with Holocaust deniers, former Klan lawyers and white nationalist thinkers. In an infamous 1986 memo, he wrote: “As whites see their power and control over their lives declining, will they simply go quietly into the night? Or will there be an explosion?”