Radical anti-immigrant groups push their agenda in the upcoming election using provocative, racially charged ads decried by Democrats and Republicans alike.
Dark-skinned immigrants loitering on street corners. A dark-skinned immigrant running from a pursuing police car.
Those are just two of the racially charged images flashing across TV screens this election season in a big-money campaign by anti-immigration groups.
The objective: steer voters away from Republicans and Democrats who support guest-worker programs and other immigration reforms, including those proposed by President George W. Bush.
One of the prime targets, Rep. Martin Frost (D-Texas), condemned the ads as racist; his Republican challenger, Pete Sessions, found them so repugnant he joined Frost in calling for them to be yanked off the air in their district. That opinion has been seconded by the campaign's two most powerful targets, Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska and Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.).
The ads were placed on the air by the Coalition for the Future of the American Worker, a front group for radical anti-immigration groups including the nation's largest and wealthiest, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR).
(These groups' ties run deep. The head of FAIR, Dan Stein, is president of the Coalition. The Coalition's spokesperson is Roy Beck, head of another anti-immigration group created by the founder of FAIR.)
Chris Cannon, a Republican congressman from Utah, has been similarly targeted in billboards purchased by ProjectUSA, another FAIR spinoff group, because he supports Bush's amnesty program for illegal immigrants.
Yet another anti-immigration group recently launched by FAIR, 9 /11 Families for a Secure America, has injected itself into the Cannon race as well, distributing e-mails supporting his primary opponent, Matt Throckmorton.
Families For a Secure America blames the 2001 terrorist attacks on failed immigration policies. The first person named to its board, former Colorado Gov. Richard Lamm, also serves on FAIR's advisory board. Lamm said earlier this year that "new cultures" in the U.S. are "diluting what we are and who we are." Apparently, that applies not only to Hispanics, but also Muslims.
"They are not coming here to become Americans," says Susan Tully, FAIR's Midwest regional director. Instead, Muslims are "promoting colonization of their own religion, of their own culture in towns and taking them over."
The anti-immigration network isn't just targeting political candidates in its quest to stave off the "takeover" of non-white immigrants. FAIR has donated $100,000 to Protect Arizona Now, a group that hopes to float an anti-immigration measure on that state's ballot in November.
Similar to California's Proposition 187, which was declared unconstitutional four years after passage in 1994, the Arizona ballot initiative would cut illegal immigrants off from most public services, including hospitals and schools.