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 Bringing Anti-Immigrant Talk Radio Hosts to D.C.

By Heidi Beirich on April 6, 2011 - 8:43 am, Posted in Anti-Immigrant

Starting today, the anti-immigrant hate group Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) is holding its fifth annual Hold Their Feet to the Fire (HFTF) event. Fifty talk radio hosts are in Washington, D.C., for what FAIR calls “the largest immigration ‘town hall’ of the airwaves to date.” The hosts will broadcast from near the Capitol, chiefly to demand that members of Congress and other officials take a harder line against immigration. FAIR supporters will also be on hand to lobby elected officials for anti-immigrant legislation that will “relieve many of the burdens that mass immigration – legal and illegal – imposes on the American people.”

Many of the radio hosts joining FAIR have engaged in vicious anti-immigrant demagoguery. Phil Valentine of 99.7 WTN in Nashville, Tenn., has been particularly awful. In 2006, Valentine held an anti-immigration “town hall meeting” in Franklin, Tenn., which more than 1,000 people attended. During the event, which was broadcast live, Valentine conducted a question-and-answer session with Susan Tully, FAIR’s national field director. At one point, Tully described how Border Patrol agents repeatedly apprehend the same Latino immigrants, returning them to Mexico each time only to later detain the same person again. Tully claimed that a Border Patrol agent in Laredo, Texas, told her that this process had been repeated as many as seven times. Tully then said she asked the agent, “What do you do on the eighth time?” and Valentine interjected: “Shoot him!” Tully laughed, and the crowd cheered.

Valentine’s not the only HFTF host who has bashed immigrants. Steve Gill of FOX News Radio has repeatedly described undocumented immigrants as a military invasion force. In May 2006, Gill said, “if 100,000 Mexicans rushed the border at the same time and if people looked at the situation the way it really is, no one would call it anything other than an invasion, and we would send in the military and shoot people.” Other hosts, including Helen Glover and Dave Elswick, have actively promoted the Minuteman movement, often by broadcasting from border encampments. Media Matters has a full rundown here on the anti-immigrant and often racist comments made by various hosts participating in FAIR’s event.

Joining these radio hosts will be other anti-immigrant activists, including Leah Durant of the deceptively named Progressives for Immigration Reform (PFIR). PFIR sent out an email advising that Durant will be interviewed by several radio shows, including “The Joyce Kaufman Show,” “The Other Side with Charles Butler” and “The Schilling Show.” PFIR is known for cloaking its anti-immigrant message behind appeals arguing that fewer immigrants would be better for the environment and labor. But this “progressive” message is belied by the fact that PFIR’s boards are stuffed full of former FAIR officials.

This year, the agenda seems to have moved a bit beyond immigration.  Former San Diego mayor and longtime talk radio host Roger Hedgecock has headlined HFTF for the past few years, usually ranting about what he considers America’s broken immigration system. But this year, Hedgecock says his agenda has broadened to this: “Cut federal spending, repeal and defund Obamacare and secure the border with Mexico.” And he is sounding downright apocalyptic. In a posting yesterday on World Net Daily called “Talk Is Not Enough,” Hedgecock complained that “our Constitution is in the shredder” and the “time for talk” is over; it’s now the “time for action.”

  • Jordan

    “I’m not sure where your 3 billion figure came from but reduced consumption by each of us can increase the carrying capacity of the planet.”
    Unfortunately, 3 billion is the comfortable carrying capacity of our planet (we could choose to all live in poverty, but why?).
    “Luckily the wider universe is protected from infection with consumption by light years of distance and the laws of physics.” The laws of thermodynamics ensure that the universe itself is slowly being consumed (that is, reduced to a state of total entropy), regardless of whether homo sapiens die on our homeworld or not. I hate to make assumptions, but I assume you aren’t one of the moon landing deniers. So, where exactly did you get the idea that the laws of physics prevent space travel? And how did the solar system become “light years” of space? It’s only 55 AU in radius (that’s 0.00087 light years, not even close to one let alone “light years”), and the asteroid belt (where extremely resource rich asteroids are found) is only 2 AU (0.000032 ly) from Earth. The laws of physics prevent a lot of things, space travel isn’t one of them, existence without entropy (and thus without consumption) is.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    ” Marx’s formula, ‘to each according to his needs,’ is a recipe for national suicide.”

    First of all, this would be relevant if it were the operating principle of our current society. As it is not, this is irrelevant. This principle describes Communist society, which Marx theorized would come after a long epoch of socialism, characterized by “from each according to his abilities, to each according to his work.” (See Critique of the Gotha Programme)

    In fact the solution to our problems actually lies in socialism for several reasons. First, capitalism encourages great waste while needs go ignored. Needs are fulfilled so long as there is a profit to be made, which also means that only those who have the money can meet those specific needs.

    Next, capitalism demands constant short-term profits, whereas taking care of nature often means long-term planning and finding alternatives. Capitalism cannot solve the problem of resources because the existing industries need that short term profit. They can’t, for example, decide to cut back a bit and put some money into alternative fuel. They do too much of that and they will go under.

    When society is organized for meeting society’s needs and not making a minority of people and countries rich, then we can make rational long-term decisions, and put resources into technologies that will preserve what resources we have, or use renewable sources.

  • Mitch Beales

    Deep Ecology you offer many assertions but little evidence. Attempting to separate populations from the problems associated with them is useless at best and more probably disingenuous. The population density of China may be local but the greenhouse gases produced when they manufacture cheap goods for US consumption are not constrained by borders anymore than the plume of radioactivity emanating from the Fukushima reactors. Similarly attempting to keep Mexicans in Ciudad Juarez instead of El Paso is not only hopeless but is disastrous with respect to sustainability since lax regulations in Mexico produce higher levels of atmospheric pollution that crosses the border freely.

    Jordan our planet is suffering from consumption. I’m not sure where your 3 billion figure came from but reduced consumption by each of us can increase the carrying capacity of the planet. Luckily the wider universe is protected from infection with consumption by light years of distance and the laws of physics. We can only take advantage of “a star system of resources” when we learn how to sustain life in a closed system long enough for us to travel deep into the universe. At that point we may be able to sustain life on Earth without consuming the rest of the universe..

  • miguel

    The fact is simple… if you feel yourself not able to learn anyother language just means lazyness, probably not smart enough to take the challenge ,and their basis knowledge and see the wide world where we live. To be successful in your life, career, in your social network, and growth as a person, as a human in your neighborhood you need to be able to interact with any person arround you, doesn’t matter where we came from, so we can learn from each person and get a better life, hearing opinions, sugestions, ideas to improve the life in our neigborhood. Unfortunatly a lot people got scare and become ignorants, just because we are nonwhite people? the color, race, religion, doesn’t matter. What matter is what you have in your brain in your hearth unless you are brainless. Now the hate groups are being supported for politicians, rich person who were enrrolled in these groups in the past… Why? Just because they wanna get votes for 2012, votes from ” CONSERVATIVE PEOPLE”…. their conservatism is only a simbolism, the facts speak by themselves, conservative leaders with felonies, sexual offenders, drugdealers, alcoholism, cheating their families and their believes… well that would mean bigotry, and ignorancy. then they say liberals here, liberals there….. it is not liberalism, that is part of the globalized world where we live and the capitalism has created it. So don’t blame the foreign people, the foreign language, the foreign culture, the aztlan plan….. it is meaningless. This is a world with challenges, and very wiiiiide challenge world 2011….. not 1500.

  • Deep Ecology

    For Jordan, I could not say it better than the late, great Dr. Hardin in an article in the Social Contract, Fall 01 article.

    “The moral is surely obvious: Never globalize a problem if it can possibly be solved locally. It may be chic but it is not wise to tack the adjective global onto the names of problems that are merely widespread – for example, ‘global hunger,’ ‘global poverty,’ and the ‘global population problem.’ We will make no progress with population problems, which are a root cause of both hunger and poverty, until we deglobalize them.

    Populations, like potholes, are produced locally and, unlike atmospheric pollution, remain local – unless some people are so unwise as to globalize them by permitting population excesses to migrate into the better-endowed countries. Marx’s formula, ‘to each according to his needs,’ is a recipe for national suicide. ‘Don’t try to solve your population problem by exporting your excess people to us.’ All nations should take this position, and most do. Unfortunately, many Americans seem to believe that our nation can solve everyone else’s population problems.”

    We support bio-regionalism across the board. Mass migration only temporarily relieves local population pressures, does not force a cultural change required to adopt sustainable practices and puts pressure on remaining finite resources in the new host nation.

    Population pressures increasingly promote urban sprawl, increase pollution and decrease natural, non-impacted natural areas. Even when a host nation passes laws protecting its remaining resources( US timber reserves for example), international corporations simply move to another resource base in another country and begin to exploit those to the detriment of their resource base.

    The problem is global, but it will be solved one bio-region at a time.

  • skinnyminny

    Deep Ecology,
    It’s interesting that it is not being told here in the U.S. that the United kingdom finally admits the AUSTERITY plan did not work. You might want to see this, “Business Chiefs Who Backed Cuts Raise Fears Over Economy,” 4-9-2011, google that title – yet, the tea party folks still insists that our deficit and the need to cut government to succeed – well, in the article listed above, the big decision makers admit that the private sector cannot create the jobs the public was told it could!

  • Sam Molloy

    You’re right Deep Ecology.

  • Jordan

    Concerned Citizen,
    You’re a troll, but I’ll play along. Tell me, why was it right for the English not to learn Native American languages and to make the Natives learn their language instead? Why should the American southwest speak English when this territory originally belonged to Mexico and English is the immigrant language? It would probably disturb you even more to learn that the founding fathers held far less value in our language than do you, the United States was several votes away from having Greek as the legal language (in homage to the creators of democracy), instead we have none.

    Deep Ecology,
    No offence, but the math *is* pretty simple and it has nothing to do with the ebb and flow of humans from one area on our planet to another (production in a global society such as ours is distributed, every country relies on every other, so the flow of population from one to another doesn’t change the balance of the system). Our planet can comfortably sustain 3,000,000,000 homo sapiens and we are fast approaching (or might have already reached) 7. We sit starving on our one planet when a star system of resources orbits above our heads (by the most conservative estimates a single 1 km long asteroid could meet Earth’s valuable metal requirments for an entire year). Human population is a planetary issue, not a national one.

  • Deep Ecology

    The debate over immigration, growth and the enviroment has become so clouded with misinformation and hidden agenda’s that rational discourse and objective, scientific analysis has become impossible. If anyone believes that our current Globalist/Corporate-capitalist growth model can be sustained indefinately within the constraints of a finite resource base, just doesn’t get the math. Yes, nativist and xenophobes who could really care less about the natural world have cynically used the population argument to further their own agenda, but while being disingenuous about their real motives, they can be right about the issue.

  • Sam Molloy

    Donald Trump may just be a Disney World robot.

  • skinnyminny

    You are right! I am willing to bet, that all of these folks talking about speaking English and immigrants not welcome will be the first to jump on the bandwagon for Donald Trump for prez. If you recall, most, if not all, of his wives were from foreign countries. In fact, I need to check if he’s really American born. In addition, how many times has he filed bk with his corporate ventures/businesses? I personally think he has serious problems with women, remember the public spat with Rosie O’Donnell, he prefer foreign women over American women, not to mention a string of failed marriages. So, again, they are hypocrites!

  • Scott

    All I can say on this one is: Absolutely GREAT post, Beverly Kurtin! ::applause::


  • Sam Molloy

    In Mudlick Kentucky they actually speak 1700’s Liverpool english, and they have to subtitle them when they talk to news people. There are no Mexicans there.

  • ruben

    how can anyone think that a person that speaks more than one language is inferior to someone who only speaks english!… my opinion people who think that way are ignorant neanderthals…the people who think like that need to realize that there is a big diverse world outside of “mudlick kentucky “….. these hypocrite racists contradict themselves, they don’t want to hear other languages spoken here in the u.s but they see zero problems if english became the common language of the world just to cater to them.

  • Sam Molloy

    St Augustine Florida was a city when the first English speakers settled in Jamestown Virginia so English is our second language. Third, if you count the American Indians.

  • Mitch Beales

    Todd you seem to appreciate directness so how about if I say that you are a xenophobic racist.

  • Mitch Beales

    Concerned Citizen there are many people in various parts of the USA who speak a version of English that is unintelligible to some of us. Should they be required to speak more clearly or should we simply tolerate their differences? Frankly I agree with Ruslan that freedom of speech also applies to choice of language. If you don’t care to hear folks “speaking in tongues” in public perhaps you should just stay home.

    What cindy hawkins-legorreta said was much more than just her point of view. She stated facts that she knows about from the real world, a real world in which America’s leadership is threatened in part because we are too arrogant to admit that learning more than one language is essential in a global society.

  • Beverly Kurtin

    Like, yeah, man. Them imigents is real bad four this here guvment. Them people shud leaf this here country and go back where them came from.

    Then the native Americans and Mexicans can regain what has been stolen from them from the day the first boat person showed up on this continent.

    The kind of whites who rail against immigrants had damned well better look in the mirror, If they’re pale, someone in their family was an immigrant at one time. So go back where you came from and leave the land to its owners.

    Today, I happened on a couple of really cute and polite American children who were very curious as to why I was in a wheelchair. Their mother was a tad shocked that her children would ask the question but I answered them at their age level and the little girl said she was sorry and gave me the sweetest hug anyone could ask for. Their mother thanked me for not ignoring their questions and I just said, “How are they going to learn about the disabled? I was happy to talk with them.”

    On the way out of the store some cretin said, “Why you talking with them Mesicans?” I answered by “accidentally” rolling over his foot with my 250 pound motorized wheelchair.

    How can anyone, ANYONE not appreciate sweet children like that and their mother. I hadn’t even noticed that they had roots in Mexico. They’re American citizens the same as I am. My grandparents escaped slavery and persecution; what’s wrong with that?

    If you don’t like immigrants, get the hell out of here and go back from where you quarter-wits came from.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    “They have to “borrow” social security numbers to participate in the American economy.

    It’s not illegal, just inconvenient.”

    Do you know what happens when you use a fake SSN to get a job? You get taxes withheld from your paycheck, but will never see a penny in benefits from it. That’s why these workers are actually creating a profit for the government.

  • Todd

    Cut in line. It’s ok.

    They’re not illegal aliens.

    They’re undocumented immigrants.

    There. That sounds better.

    They have to “borrow” social security numbers to participate in the American economy.

    It’s not illegal, just inconvenient.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    “Thanks for your spin on the subject. if foreingers did speak English out in public. I wouldn’t care. That’s my story.”

    So people should be restricted to speaking English in the presence of ignorant people like you? Please explain the tangible benefits this would bring to American society.

  • Concerned Citizen

    Ms Hawkins-Legorreta

    Thanks for your spin on the subject. if foreingers did speak English out in public. I wouldn’t care. That’s my story.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    “It’s the responsibilitity of those coming into this country to speak Englis, not the other way around that the liberal mish mashers are trying to push on the rest of the country.”

    “Citizen”, people in America can speak whatever language they like, whenever they want. Nobody wants to live in a country without ever learning the language. I lived in a foreign country for six months with no formal education in their language. Despite the fact that the locals almost all speak English very well(or at least those I would deal with in my daily life), I found it maddening not to be able to communicate freely with anyone. That was just in six months. Had I stayed, I would have certainly learned the language.

    As I said, I hope you are just a troll. If so, a tip of the hat to you. But if that is not the case…well, I’m not going to start a flame war.

    It might interest you to know that all around the world, people see knowing foreign languages as a great advantage and something to admire. As opposed to your beloved ignorance.

    Now go ahead and whine about how I’m being “elitist”, and looking down on your country folk wisdom or whatever.

  • skinnyminny

    Concerned Citizen,
    I don’t believe the ‘illegal immigrants’ are going to bankrupt this country. I believe it is the recent elected local government officials with the belief that ‘government should be run like a business,’ will bankrupt this country – they are the ones getting salaries and perks as if they are on wallstreet. Stop flipping the script, you know these guys are the ones making more than the prez but tell the country that union workers are the cause!

  • http://n.a. cindy hawkins-legorreta

    As an ESL teacher of foreign born adults, I am continually amazed at the dedication and tenacity of my students, many this year from French West Africa. They speak their tribal languages at home to their husbands and wives, their children speak English in school, and they also speak French. The daughter of one student of mine is five, and now quadri-lingual. I have always impressed upon my students that languages are a key, they open doors of opportunity. Along with citizenship class and ESL, my students impress upon THEIR kids the need to be law abiding, and respectful. I ear it all the time. Ditto my last years’ students who were all Mexican. I am sorry that most people who spout ugly anti immigrant hate rhetoric will never take time to get to meet, and know on a first name basis these ‘intruders’ who are, as they insist, “stealing jobs and ruining America.” Those guys should meet Doc, Didi and Margarita, seeing their struggles. Maybe they’d understand how invested my students are in becoming good Americans, while at the same time maintaining their cultural identity in a new country that often pariah-tizes and judges them as inferior – from gitgo. As a relative newcomer myself (my grandmother came from Italy as an infant, in 1900) I am, in fact only second generation, so maybe I’m a little biased myself, eh?

  • ModerateMike


    I don’t know if you have had the chance to read any of the SPLC reports on John Tanton (here’s one:, but you might want to peruse them to get another perspective on him. He strikes me as being pretty adept at presenting an image of himself and his organizations that masks their true agenda and has broad public appeal, but his true feelings come out from time to time in his writings.

  • ruben

    to concerned citizen……just in case you fell asleep during history class……english is a non native foreign language here in north america… brought here by non native english speaking immigrants.

  • Concerned Citizen


    It’s the responsibilitity of those coming into this country to speak Englis, not the other way around that the liberal mish mashers are trying to push on the rest of the country.

  • Mitch Beales

    Concerned Citizen my mother spoke German at home until she went to school. At that time her parents, my grandfather born in Germany and my grandmother born in a largely German rural community in Nebraska, began using English at home so mom would have a better time at school. Virtually all Americans are descended from folks who, whether or not they had proper documentation when they immigrated, spoke their native tongue until their children insisted that they speak English. How’s your Cherokee? Do you really believe that the folks who stole Texas from Mexico should have learned Spanish? Do you think everyone in the American southwest should learn Spanish or should the conqured learn the language of the conquerors? Or is your racism just showing through. Instead of expecting others to learn English perhaps you should learn tolerance.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    “I agree with them. Illegal immigrants are bad for the country and will eventually bankrupt this country.”

    Not likely, seeing as how plenty of data shows that these immigrants put far more into the economy than they took out, especially those who paid into SS without having the right to ever get benefits.

    Have you ever even looked at a break down of the Federal Budget to see how your tax money is actually spent? Or do you just prefer to remain ignorant on that?

    “I don’t know about anyone else, but I don’t like hearing foreigners speaking in their native tougues. It is scary and these foreigners are trying to be sneaky.
    It’s time to put and end to this madness..”

    Please tell me you are just a troll. I don’t want to believe there are people out there so terrified of foreign languages. It’s as if you’re proud of your ignorance. It might dismay you to find that your many 100% white heroes often spoke more than one language, and it was considered a virtue to do so.

  • Maggie

    Concerned Citizen,

    It seems your spelling and grammar have improved tremendously. Now please stop baiting everyone here by pretending ignorance and silly opinions just to get a rise out of people who take these issues serously.

  • B.B.

    I also posted the wrong link to the In These Times article, . I’m obviously not not good at using HTML:

  • B.B.

    Sorry, I posted the wrong link to Tanton’s resume, which can actually be found here:

  • B.B.

    PFIR is known for cloaking its anti-immigrant message behind appeals arguing that fewer immigrants would be better for the environment and labor. But this “progressive” message is belied by the fact that PFIR’s boards are stuffed full of former FAIR officials.

    You say that as if being a member of FAIR and being a progressive are mutually exclusive. This is especially asinine considering that FAIR was founded by John Tanton who actually is a progressive.

    See the In These Times article on Tanton: Keeping America Empty:
    Given that the movement he helped create now finds its base among conservative Republicans, you might expect John Tanton to be an unapologetic reactionary. You’d be wrong. He’s a self-described progressive, ex-Sierra Club member, Planned Parenthood supporter and harsh critic of neoclassical economists.

    Or just look at Tanton’s resume at his official website which lists his long-held involvement in numerous environmental and pro-choice organizations, which even predate his involvement in the immigration restrictionist movement.

  • ModerateMike

    Well, more rigorous enforcement means that more officers will have to be hired, more detention space will be required, more judges and attorneys will be needed, etc. Won’t that require more federal spending? Or, will the states be expected to handle that burden themselves? Either way, this just doesn’t seem consistent with the “small government” crusade that swept the nation last November.

  • Linnea

    The anti-immigrant crowd just seems to get worse and worse…

  • Concerned Citizen

    I agree with them. Illegal immigrants are bad for the country and will eventually bankrupt this country.
    I don’t know about anyone else, but I don’t like hearing foreigners speaking in their native tougues. It is scary and these foreigners are trying to be sneaky.
    It’s time to put and end to this madness..

  • Maggie

    Wait for it–someone is going to get the idea that the solution to unemployment is to go after immigrants. I’m surprised that it hasn’t happened already. They’ll spin it, of course, but the intention will be the same. Never mind the fact that without immigrant labor, this country would be in way worse shape than it already is.

  • ruben

    so now roger hedgecock a convicted felon that got shamefully thrown out of the mayors office in san diego for being corrupt is a moral authority on the constitution…..these people are nothing but blatant hypocrites!