Skip to main content Accessibility

Once Again, White Nationalists Sully Immigration Debate

Opponents of immigration reform legislation have been trying to steer clear of white nationalists lately, hoping to keep their opposition to citizenship for undocumented Latino immigrants free from the taint of racism.

But they just can’t seem to run fast enough.

Last week, a major Heritage Foundation report about the supposed costs of illegal immigration was pilloried after the revelation that one of its authors, Heritage Foundation senior fellow Jason Richwine, had earlier claimed that there are deep differences in intelligence among races (with Latinos toward the bottom). Richwine resigned from the conservative think tank amid the outcry.

Now, this week, we discover that ProEnglish, a group with white nationalist ties, has launched an ad campaign against immigration reform. The first target is Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, according to BuzzFeed. The group’s minute-long radio ad features a Spanish-speaking character, apparently representing an undocumented immigrant, thanking Graham “for not requiring him to learn English in exchange for amnesty.”

ProEnglish, founded in 1994, is part of the network of organizations founded by anti-immigrant movement architect John Tanton, a Michigan ophthalmologist who, over the years, has corresponded with white nationalists, eugenicists and Holocaust deniers, and written that in order to maintain American culture, “a European-American majority is required.”

Robert Vandervoort, executive director of ProEnglish, also has ties to white nationalist groups. He formerly ran the Chicagoland Friends of American Renaissance, a group that supports white nationalist Jared Taylor’s American Renaissance. Taylor has claimed that any kind of civilization disappears when black people are left to their own devices. Vandervoort has also attended events held by the Fitzgerald Griffin Foundation, which distributes books by the late Sam Francis, who was a resident scholar at the foundation and a leading figure among white nationalists who argued for “white racial consciousness.”

ProEnglish board member and spokesman Phil Kent has his own connections to extremists. He is a national spokesman for Americans for Immigration Control (AIC) and director of American Immigration Control Foundation (AICF), which pillories non-white immigrants in racist terms. One of the AIC’s past chairmen was Sam Francis, and the group received years of funding from the Pioneer Foundation, a radical-right eugenics organization founded in 1937 that has provided funding for numerous pseudoscientific studies on race and intelligence.

Kent’s articles have run in publications of the white nationalist Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC), which believes that “mixing the races is rebelliousness against God,” and has referred to black people as “a retrograde species of humanity.” He has also, in the past, attended a national gathering of the group. In one Kent article published in a CCC newsletter, he referred to the CCC as a good conservative group that had been “targeted for demonization by the political leadership of the Left and its media allies.”

Comments, suggestions or tips? Send them to and follow us on Twitter @Hatewatch.