Anti-immigrant hate groups are the most extreme of the hundreds of nativist and vigilante groups that have proliferated since the late 1990s, when anti-immigrant xenophobia began to rise to levels not seen in the U.S. since the 1920s.
In 2022, the total number of anti-immigrant hate groups decreased from 18 to 17. The decrease came from lack of activity from two groups, Help Save Maryland and Floridians for Immigration Enforcement. The group North Carolinians for Immigration Reform and Enforcement were re-listed on the Hate Map for this year.
Much of the year was defined by anti-immigrant groups opposing President Joe Biden’s immigration policies and seeking ways to undercut, challenge and criticize his administration. This included pushing to keep draconian measures put in place by former President Donald Trump that negatively affect immigrants every day.
Many anti-immigrant groups and their political leaders spent the year claiming there to be lawlessness and a so-called “invasion” at the U.S. southern border. The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), one of the main anti-immigrant hate groups, dubiously claimed there was “complete border chaos.”
Anti-immigrant groups spent much of the year advocating to preserve Title 42, the Trump-era immigration rule to expel asylum seekers during the coronavirus outbreak. FAIR reportedly worked with members of Congress to keep Title 42 in place. The Immigration Reform Law Institute – FAIR’s legal arm – filed a lawsuit on behalf of Texas to halt the termination of the Trump policy in the state and keep expulsions of migrants going. In December 2022, the Supreme Court temporality blocked Biden’s efforts to terminate Title 42, leaving the administration in limbo about how to proceed with the program.
Dangerous rhetoric about an immigrant “invasion” at the U.S. southern border was supercharged among many Republican elected officials and given cover by the anti-immigrant movement.
FAIR held its annual Hold Their Feet to the Fire radio and networking event in Washington, D.C., in September 2022, bringing together nativist figures, conservative radio hosts and over 25 members of Congress. Sheriffs Mark Lamb and Mark Danal were also in attendance, underscoring FAIR’s efforts to court law enforcement officials.
The 2022 midterms brought mixed results for immigration hardliners. The anti-immigrant movement suffered a setback when staunch ally and FAIR board adviser Tom Hodgson lost his election for Bristol County (Massachusetts) sheriff.
In September 2022, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott carried an act of inhumane political theater by busing Venezuelan migrants to Martha’s Vineyard, New York City, Washington, D.C., and Chicago. The act was met with mixed reactions among anti-immigrant figures. Some groups disapproved the stunt while others lauded it as a clever way to call out Biden and show alleged hypocrisy among liberal-leaning cities when it comes to sanctuary policies.
The anti-immigrant movement and their political allies are likely to continue vilifying the Biden administration over its immigration policies, both when it comes to interior enforcement as well at the border.
On May 11, 2022, a coalition of hate groups, nativist actors and former Trump administration staffers penned an open letter to 117th Congress calling on it implement an anti-immigrant agenda. While the 2022 midterm elections did not quite play out in favor for extremists as anticipated, it can be expected these groups will still be seeking sympathetic members of Congress to help drive their agenda.
Signatories of the letter included former Trump administration immigration hardliners like Chad Wolf, Ken Cuccinelli and Mark Morgan, as well as conservative organizations like America First Policy Institute and Center for Renewing America. These figures give a veneer of legitimacy to nativist ideas and the hate groups who help craft them. It is clear these former Trump staffers are willing to associate with extremist groups, something that is likely to continue in 2023.
The organized anti-immigrant movement in the U.S. has long supported draconian immigration enforcement measures and has worked to stall legislative relief for immigrants and their families and to spread bigoted messages.
This movement‘s chief architect was John Tanton, a Michigan-based ophthalmologist, white nationalist and eugenics advocate whose tenacity set in motion a network of groups devoted to pushing nativist policies and ideas. Memos donated by Tanton to the Bentley Historical Library at the University of Michigan evidence that his anti-immigrant sentiment was steeped in racism, eugenics and fears of the United States losing its white hegemony.
Although Tanton passed away in 2019, his legacy lives on through a constellation of groups devoted to his vision. Many of these groups bill themselves as fact-based think tanks engaged in policy research and lobbying; however, their main goal is to spread propaganda targeting immigrants. While not every group designated by the SPLC as an anti-immigrant hate group is part of the Tanton network, they generally push the same nativist and dehumanizing rhetoric. This includes slandering immigrants as inherently criminal, as invaders and/or as threats to the dominant culture.
The flagship group founded by Tanton in 1979 is the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). Dan Stein, a close confidant of Tanton, remains FAIR’s president, stewarding its same anti-immigrant agenda into the future. In 1985, Tanton founded the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), which has become a go-to think tank for anti-immigrant groups and nativist-leaning politicians. CIS has a decades-long history of circulating racist writers, while also associating with white nationalists. Tanton also helped found or fund 13 nativist organizations; however, not all are designated as hate groups.
One of the main drivers among anti-immigrant hate groups is vastly limiting or halting immigration to the United States altogether. FAIR claimed in a 2016 video that “mass immigration is too dangerous for America.”
Anti-immigrant groups like FAIR and others are active in Congress, lobbying for nativist legislation and leveraging their partnerships with sympathetic members of Congress to derail relief for immigrants living in the U.S. One extreme measure lobbied for by FAIR is repealing Birthright Citizenship guaranteed under the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. ProEnglish is committed to pushing legislation making English the official language of the United States and demonizing inclusive efforts to translate government documents to different languages. Americans for Legal Immigration PAC seeks to fund nativist candidates running for office in the U.S. The House Immigration Reform Caucus, founded in 1999, has been the Congressional arm working to encode much of FAIR’s agenda. And many of the key leaders in the anti-immigrant movement worked both for outside groups and inside government.
Cordia Strom was FAIR’s legal director, represented the Immigration Reform Law Institute, and worked for U.S. House Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims. In 1996, while working for the subcommittee, Strom helped bring about the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act, creating the basis for the current mass deportation and detention system.
Anti-immigrant hate groups supported the construction of a wall along the U.S. southern border. Dangerous rhetoric depicting migrants arriving at the border as an “invasion” has been deployed by anti-immigrant groups and hard-liner members of Congress. This rhetoric was supercharged in 2022, though it has been pushed by nativist figures for decades.
In 1994, Tanton and Wayne Lutton, editor of The Social Contract Press, co-wrote the book The Immigration Invasion. One of the central themes of the book is “Uncontrolled immigration is altering the distribution of political power in the United States.”
Both anti-immigrant leaders were deeply connected to the larger far right. Lutton was also on the editorial advisory board of a publication of the white nationalist group Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC) and Social Contract Press was responsible for bringing Jean Raspail’s racist novel, The Camp of Saints, back into the political fray after two decades out of print. Tanton wrote in a 1999 memo that he hoped the “reissuance of this book will measurably advance the [immigration] debate."
Anti-immigrant groups are also focused on pushing for draconian measures at the state and local level. This includes supporting policies making it so hard for immigrants and their families to live and work in the U.S. that they leave, a strategy popularized by CIS called “attrition through enforcement.” This includes supporting problematic E-Verify programs and calling to end so-called “sanctuary” city policies.
Barbara Coe, founder and leader of the California Coalition for Immigration Reform and a self-described member of the Council of Conservative Citizens, organized one of the first modern anti-immigrant state initiative campaigns, Proposition 187 in 1994, that became a model strategy for the anti-immigrant movement.
By 2010 anti-immigrant politicians like Kris Kobach, who served as chairman of the Kansas Republican Party before being elected to the Kansas Secretary of State, had ushered in a series of laws in states and localities, all aimed at restricting immigrant people’s rights and punishing immigrant communities. Arizona's anti-immigrant S.B. 1070 law in 2010 brought about a series of copycat policies pushed by anti-immigrant groups around the country, notably in Southern states, including Alabama and Georgia.
Groups like FAIR have encouraged counties to enter 287(g) programs, which deputize local law enforcement to serve as federal immigration enforcement officers. This fits into a larger strategy of FAIR and others to court law enforcement officers like sheriffs to carry out their anti-immigrant agenda.
Nativist hate can also exist outside the policy realm. The hate group AZ Patriots, like other boarder vigilante militias, had harassed migrants at the border as well as representatives from institutions seeking to help them. The many spin offs and remnants of the anti-immigrant militia group the Minutemen Project, started by Chis Simcox and Jim Gilchrist, remain today in the form of conspiratorial anti-government groups focused on the southern border. All of this adds to a broader climate of sowing fear and bigotry toward immigrants in America.
2022 anti-immigrant hate groups
View all groups by state and by ideology.
American Border Patrol
Sierra Vista, Arizona
American Immigration Control Foundation/Americans for Immigration Control
Americans for Legal Immigration (ALIPAC)
Raleigh, North Carolina
Californians for Population Stabilization
Colorado Alliance for Immigration Reform
Center for Immigration Studies Center for Immigration Studies
Washington, District of Columbia
The Dustin Inman Society
Federation for American Immigration Reform
Washington, District of Columbia
Immigration Reform Law Institute
Washington, District of Columbia
North Carolinians for Immigration Reform and Enforcement
Wade, North Carolina
Oregonians for Immigration Reform
Washington, District of Columbia
The Remembrance Project
United Patriots for America
Linden, New Jersey
Texans for Immigration Reduction and Enforcement