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Dangerous Liaisons: Congressmen to Join Nativist Hate Group Today

At noon today, five members of the U.S. House of Representatives will hold a press conference at the House Triangle with Dan Stein, president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). FAIR has been listed as an anti-immigrant hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center since 2007.

Stein will discuss “loopholes” in pending health care legislation that he claims will allow benefits to go to “illegal aliens.”

All five House members meeting with FAIR — Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Nathan Deal (R-Ga.), Dean Heller (R-Nev.), Sam Johnson (R-Tex.) and Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) — are members of the hard-line House Immigration Reform Caucus (IRC). The IRC is headed by U.S. Rep. Brian Bilbray (R-Calif.), who is a former lobbyist for FAIR. In 2002, Bilbray told a group of anti-immigrant activists, “We are creating a slave class that criminal elements breed in.” He also warned, “We could have a terrorist coming in on a Latin name.”

FAIR has a decades-long history of anti-immigrant hatred. The group has employed key staff members with ties to white supremacist groups, accepted more than $1 million from a racist foundation dedicated to the study of racial differences in intelligence, and promoted racist conspiracy theories about Mexico’s secretly coveting the American Southwest. In 2006, a top official of FAIR in met with former members of a Belgian political party banned by that country’s highest court for “racism and xenophobia.” For more on FAIR’s long track record of hate, read here.

The group’s animus toward immigrants reaches all the way back to its founding in 1979. FAIR’s founder, current board member and intellectual leader, John Tanton, has repeatedly described contemporary immigrants as inferior. He has questioned the “educability” of Latinos and written that “for European-American society and culture to persist requires a European-American majority, and a clear one at that.” In a letter to Roy Beck, head of NumbersUSA, Tanton wondered “whether the minorities who are going to inherit California … can run an advanced society?”

Stein recently defended Tanton, telling The Washington Post that Tanton is a “Renaissance man” of wide-ranging “intellect.”

It is unclear whether these elected officials are aware of FAIR’s racist track record. In October, another Republican congressman, Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, came under fire by immigrants-rights advocates in his home district for participating in a September event put on by FAIR that featured live broadcasts by talk radio hosts. Ryan quickly issued a statement saying he did not endorse or support FAIR and had only granted a radio interview to discuss “health care reform and the Green Bay Packers.” According to Ryan’s statement, he had his name removed from FAIR’s website where it had been noted that Ryan took part in the FAIR’s event.

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