Nation's Most Prominent Anti-Immigration Group has History of Hate

Editor's Note: After issuing this report in December 2007, the Southern Poverty Law Center added the Federation for American Immigration Reform to its list of hate groups.

The country's leading anti-immigration organization — whose leaders have testified repeatedly before Congress and are frequently quoted in the media — has ties to known racists and a long track record of bigotry, according to a new report released today by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).

The group, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR):

  • is the creation of a man who operates a racist publishing company and has compared immigrants to "bacteria;"
  • has employed members of white supremacist groups in key positions;
  • has promoted racist conspiracy theories; and
  • has accepted more than $1 million from the Pioneer Fund, a racist foundation devoted to eugenics and to proving a connection between race and IQ.

FAIR and its ties to white supremacy are examined in the latest issue of the SPLC's quarterly Intelligence Report.

The SPLC today added FAIR to its list of hate groups operating in the United States.

"FAIR's position on immigration is rooted more in its anti-Latino and anti-Catholic beliefs than in policy concerns," said Mark Potok, the director of the SPLC's project that monitors hate group activity. "Remarkably, it has still managed to infiltrate the mainstream and shape the immigration debate in this country."

FAIR helped defeat federal immigration reform earlier this year and has played a key role in fueling the fierce, anti-immigrant backlash in the United States. It was founded in 1979 by John Tanton, a man who has compared immigrants to bacteria and warned that high birthrates will allow Latinos to take over America. Still a member of FAIR's board, Tanton also operates The Social Contract Press, listed as a hate group for many years by the SPLC because of its anti-Latino and white supremacist writings.

"The sad fact is that attempts to reform our immigration system are being sabotaged by organizations fueled by hate," Henry Fernandez, a senior fellow and expert on immigration at the Center for American Progress, told the Intelligence Report.

The SPLC has documented a 40 percent increase in the number of hate groups since 2000, an increase that SPLC analysts attribute to the anti-immigrant fervor that is sweeping the country. The FBI recently released statistics showing a 35 percent rise in hate crimes against Latinos since 2003. A sampling of some of the most egregious acts of violence against Latinos over the past three years is included in the new issue of the SPLC's Intelligence Report.

Also in this issue of the Intelligence Report:

  • "Bad Blood" explores the ruthless attack by racist skinheads that nearly killed Amanda Crow, a fellow skinhead. Crow's story sheds light on a brutal underworld where she was literally stabbed in the back by her "racial brothers and sisters."
  • "Straight Like Me" looks at the booming Christian "ex-gay" movement that claims to "cure" LGBT people of their sexual orientation. Despite some well-intentioned practitioners, the movement has increasingly battled gay rights and left a trail of broken lives in its wake.
  • "Black Hats on Campus" examines a chapter of Young Americans for Freedom, a hate-spewing student group supported by state and national Republican activists that is roiling students and faculty at Michigan State University.
  • "Vicious Circle" reports on the Aryan Circle, a radical group spawned by a prison gang that is blamed for the recent murders of two police officers.

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