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Arizona’s controversial anti-immigrant law was written by a lawyer at the legal arm of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), which the Southern Poverty Law Center has listed as an anti-immigrant hate group since 2007. The law, a recipe for racial profiling, would make the failure to carry immigration documents a crime and give the police broad power to detain anyone suspected of being in the country illegally. (See statement by SPLC Legal Director Mary Bauer.)
Kris Kobach, the author of the Arizona law and a lawyer at FAIR’s Immigration Reform Law Institute, has been the prime mover behind numerous ordinances that seek to punish those who aid and abet “illegal aliens,” including laws adopted in Farmer’s Branch, Texas, and Hazelton, Pa.
The laws have not done well and have cost some localities immense sums of money to defend. Recently, the city of Albertville, Ala., refused to work with Kobach on just such an ordinance, reportedly because of the high legal costs incurred by these other communities.
Before joining FAIR, Kobach served as U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft’s top immigration adviser. He then moved on to take charge of Department of Justice efforts to tighten border security after the 9/11 attacks. There, he developed a program — the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System — that called for close monitoring of men from Arab and Muslim nations, even legal U.S. residents. The program collapsed due to complaints of racial profiling and discrimination.
Given Kobach’s history with racial profiling, it is particularly alarming that he was tapped by Maricopa County, Ariz., Sheriff Joe Arpaio in February to train his officers. A federal grand jury investigation is under way amid a slew of complaints that Arpaio used racial profiling techniques to round up suspected undocumented immigrants. The grand jury is also reportedly looking at whether Arpaio used his office to target political opponents.
FAIR’s poison is now spreading. Legislation similar to Arizona’s has been introduced in Texas, and six other states are considering doing so.
It’s not surprising to find a group like FAIR behind this repugnant law. FAIR has an extensive track record of racism and bigotry. The group, for example, has accepted $1.2 million from the racist Pioneer Fund, a foundation established to promote the genes of white colonials and fund studies of race, intelligence and genetics. FAIR has employed key staffers who have also joined white supremacist groups; it has board members who write regularly for hate publications; it promotes racist conspiracy theories about Latino immigrants; and it has produced television programming featuring white nationalists.
FAIR has been dominated for much of its life by its racist founder and current board member, John Tanton, who has written that “for European-American society and culture to persist requires a European-American majority, and a clear one at that.” Tanton’s role model for FAIR is John Trevor Sr., founder of the racist American Coalition of Patriotic Societies and a key architect of the racially restrictive Immigration Act of 1924. Trevor also distributed pro-Nazi propaganda and warned shrilly of “diabolical Jewish control” of America. Tanton once said Trevor should serve as FAIR’s “guidepost to what we must follow again this time.”
FAIR’s president, Dan Stein, has warned that immigrants are engaged in “competitive breeding” aimed at diminishing white power. He led efforts to win funding from the Pioneer Fund, saying in 1993 that his “job [was] to get every dime of Pioneer’s money.” Stein also served as editorial adviser to Tanton’s hate journal, The Social Contract, at a time when it ran its ugliest edition ever, “Europhobia: The Hostility Toward European-Descended Americans.” The issue’s lead article argued that multiculturalism was replacing “successful Euro-American culture” with “dysfunctional Third World cultures.” Stein has declined to offer any criticism of FAIR’s founder, instead characterizing Tanton last September as a “Renaissance man.”
The principal sponsor of the Arizona law, state Sen. Russell Pearce, has his own history of hate. In 2006, Pearce forwarded an email to his supporters from the neo-Nazi National Alliance titled “Who Rules America?” The article criticized the media for promoting multiculturalism and racial equality, and for presenting the Holocaust as fact. More recently, Pearce has been photographed hugging J.T. Ready, a Phoenix-area resident who is a member of the neo-Nazi National Socialist Movement.