09/22/2008

New SPLC Report: Documents Reveal History of Racial Extremism by Architect of Anti-Immigration Movement

The leaders of the anti-immigration movement in the United States have long claimed that they are not motivated by racism.

But a new report by the Southern Poverty Law Center reveals that John Tanton, the architect of the movement and founder of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), has a more than 30-year history of racial extremism. FAIR is listed as a hate group by the SPLC.

Based on Tanton's personal correspondence, preserved at the University of Michigan's Bentley Historical Library, the report shows that Tanton has been in the midst of the white nationalist scene for decades. He has corresponded frequently with leading white nationalist thinkers, race scientists and Holocaust deniers. He encouraged a major donor to read the work of a radical anti-Semitic professor to "give you a new understanding of the Jewish outlook on life." And he suggested that the board of FAIR, on which he sits, discuss the professor's theories on the Jews.

Tanton's organizations have long been high-profile players in the immigration debate. FAIR, for example, helped defeat federal immigration reform legislation in 2007 and has played a key role in fueling the fierce, anti-immigrant backlash in the United States. FAIR boasts on its website that it has been called on to testify about immigration more than any other organization.

In addition to FAIR, Tanton founded or co-founded the Center for Immigration Studies, NumbersUSA, Pro English, the Social Contract Press, U.S. English and U.S. Inc.

U.S. Inc. is a foundation created and headed by Tanton. It has funded all of the groups founded by Tanton in addition to the American Immigration Control Foundation, the American Patrol/Voice of Citizens Together, Californians for Population Stabilization, the California Coalition for Immigration Reform and ProjectUSA.

The SPLC designated FAIR a hate group in December 2007, citing the organization's ties to white supremacy and its long track record of bigotry. The SPLC also lists Tanton's Social Contract Press as a hate group because of its anti-Latino and white supremacist writings.

Organizations founded by Tanton, who has compared immigrants to "bacteria," have helped fuel a rising anti-immigrant, anti-Latino furor in the United States. The SPLC has documented a staggering 48 percent increase in the number of hate groups operating in the country since 2000 — from 602 to 888. The border states of California, Arizona and Texas experienced the greatest growth in hate groups during that period.

At the same time, FBI statistics suggest a 35 percent rise in hate crimes against Latinos between 2003 and 2006. Experts believe such crimes are normally committed by people who think they are attacking immigrants.

Despite the veneer of respectability presented by FAIR and other Tanton groups, their founder's own words suggest his campaign against immigration is mainly about race.

In a Dec. 10, 1993, letter to Garrett Hardin, a controversial ecology professor, Tanton wrote: "I've come to the point of view that for European-American society and culture to persist requires a European-American majority, and a clear one at that."

On Jan. 26, 1996, he wrote Roy Beck, head of NumbersUSA (and then an employee of Tanton's foundation U.S. Inc.), questioning the ability of Latinos to govern California.

Tanton wondered "whether the minorities who are going to inherit California (85% of the lower-grade school children are now 'minorities' — demography is destiny) can run an advanced society?"

Read more quotes from John Tanton and FAIR officials.