The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) has never been a pleasant organization. Its top leaders have warned shrilly of a “Latin onslaught,” defended a racist 1924 quota system, insisted that America needs a “European-American majority,” and fretted that Latinos are “outbreeding” white people. Its founder has sought ways to sterilize unmarried mothers, corresponded with white supremacists and Holocaust deniers, and suggested, among other things, that it might be a good thing to prohibit less intelligent citizens from having children.
But FAIR, the nation’s leading nativist organization and one that is frequently quoted in the press, has insisted it is not about hatred, that some unfortunate remarks of its founder are ancient history and have nothing to do with the group today.
Two events this week once again gave the lie to those claims.
In California, news broke that a man named Jose Navarro, who had been on a kidney transplant list for six years, was refused the transplant just days before the operation was to be scheduled because UC San Francisco officials discovered that he was an undocumented immigrant. Even when Navarro’s wife stepped in and offered to donate her own compatible kidney, doctors refused the life-saving surgery. The fact that Navarro had private insurance didn’t sway hospital officials either.
None of this bothered the generous humanitarians at FAIR. Such care, FAIR’s top spokesman, Ira Mehlman, told ABC News, “should be the responsibility of the home country,” adding that “in a situation like this, where there is an opportunity for someone to leave the country and get care, they need to do so.”
And in Missouri, a Guatemalan mother who was jailed for two years after an immigration raid at the poultry plant where she worked prepared to go to court in an attempt to regain custody of the 5-year-old boy who was given to a white couple while she was behind bars. Circuit Court Judge David C. Dally ended her parental rights because her “lifestyle” included crossing the border illegally and using fake identity papers, even while ignoring the criminal background of the adoptive father.
As with the hospital officials in the California case, the actions of the judge were loathsome enough — according to ABC News, Encarnacion Bail Romero wasn’t even assigned a lawyer until two months after losing custody. But it took FAIR to put that special, heartless spin on the case for which it is known.
FAIR President Dan Stein, who has said that many Central Americans “hate America,” told ABC the mother was to blame: “When parents break the law, they undertake a certain amount of risk that there are going to be consequences.”
The black-hearted ideologues at FAIR couldn’t care less that Bail Romero, whose son was just seven months old when officials stole him away, was jailed on on aggravated identity theft charges — charges that the U.S. Supreme Court has since rejected in cases like hers, according to ABC News. They don’t give a fig that she was unable to attend the custody hearings, or that she said from the start that she didn’t want her son adopted out. They had no problem with Dally’s ruling that she had willfully abandoned her son, or with the fact that the adoptive father had served almost a year in jail after pleading guilty to a felony charge of possession of stolen property.
Not everyone is so blindly cruel.
In California, Oakland City Council President Ignacio de la Fuente and many others are trying to find a way to get Navarro the surgery that experts say would probably not be available if he were deported to Mexico. A man named Donald Kagan, a citizen who received a kidney transplant last year from an undocumented immigrant, told ABC that UC San Francisco officials never asked him about his immigration status. “A person … had absolutely nothing and was willing to give his kidney to me,” he said of his benefactor. “What they’re saying is that only people who have money should get transplants, and it shouldn’t be that way.”
And in Missouri, the Bail Romero case has drawn attention to what Guatemalan Consulate attorney John DeLeon described as a “massive national problem.” ABC quoted a report from the Applied Research Center, “Shattered Families,” that found that as of last summer some 5,100 children were placed in foster care after their parents were deported or detained. A smaller but unknown number of those children have been put up for adoption by American families.
Today, according to ABC, Encarnacion Bail Romero, who has not seen her son in more than four years, has only a tiny passport photo of the boy she still calls Carlito and weeps when she speaks of him. For his part, Navarro thanks those who are supporting him and said he hopes to live for his 3-year-old daughter’s sake.
But don’t expect any tears from the people at FAIR. As they’ve made abundantly clear over the decades, humanitarian sympathy or even simple concern for their fellow human beings has no part at all in their heartless ideology.