O'Reilly promotes petition by NumbersUSA, a group linked to controversial anti-immigration activist John Tanton

Fox News host Bill O'Reilly is promoting an online petition, titled “Mr. President, Please Secure our Borders Immediately,” spearheaded by NumbersUSA, an anti-immigration group. O'Reilly has said that the petition represents a “nonpartisan people's movement,” but neglected to provide any background. In fact, NumbersUSA is part of a network of anti-immigrant organizations founded and/or funded by controversial activist John Tanton, who has made racist statements about immigrants.

O'Reilly first promoted the petition on the April 25 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:

O'REILLY: The group NumbersUSA is handling the petition. Their web address is reformus.org. Reformus.org. Or you can go to billoreilly.com, where we have a link right over to that Web site. We will keep a daily tally of how many of you sign up. And we begin with more than 90,000, as I mentioned. So there you have it. This is a nonpartisan people's movement, best we can do.

Tanton founded NumbersUSA in 1997. The group aims to “reduce the overall numerical levels of annual legal and illegal immigration.”

Tanton also founded the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) in 1979. The New York Times reported on May 14, 2000, that FAIR “has long viewed a ban on immigration as the key to population control.” According to a Media Matters for America examination of FAIR's publicly available IRS disclosure forms, FAIR received $1.2 million between 1985 and 1994 from the Pioneer Fund, a foundation that supports the work of white supremacists, eugenicists, and others who seek to prove that genetic differences exist between races. In the mid-1980s, Tanton wrote the WITAN memos (the name refers to the Old English term 'witenangemot' or 'council of wise men'), which were “meant for Tanton colleagues who met at retreats to discuss immigration” [Southern Poverty Law Center, Intelligence Report, Summer 2002]. “Tanton's memo raised questions about the 'reproductive powers' of the races, suggesting: 'perhaps this is the first instance in which those with the pants up are going to get caught by those with their pants down!'” [Los Angeles Times, 8/31/03]. Here are some excerpts from an October 1986 WITAN memo:

  • Can “homo contraceptivus” compete with “homo progenitiva” if borders aren't controlled? Or is advice to limit ones [sic] family simply advice to move over and let someone else with greater reproductive powers occupy the space?
  • Is apartheid in Southern California's future? The demographic picture in South Africa now is startlingly similar to what we'll see in California in 2030. In Southern Africa, a White minority owns the property, has the best jobs and education, has the political power, and speaks one language. A non-White majority has poor education, jobs and income, owns little property, is on its way to political power and speaks a different language.
  • Will Latin American migrants bring with them the tradition of the mordida (bribe), the lack of involvement in public affairs, etc.? What in fact are the characteristics of Latin American culture, versus that of the United States?

In 1988, after the media published the memo, the group U.S. English, an advocacy group “dedicated to preserving English as America's official language” also founded by Tanton, cut its ties with him. U.S. English director Linda Chavez quit, as did board member Walter Cronkite [Los Angeles Times, 8/30/03].

Tanton and his groups also have close ties to Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO), a leading supporter of stricter immigration rules, including a FAIR-supported five-year moratorium on many forms of legal immigration [The Washington Post, 3/25/05]. The Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call described NumbersUSA legislative analyst Rosemary Jenks as “a close Tancredo ally in the immigration reform movement” [1/12/04]. A 2003 Salon.com article (written by Max Blumenthal, now a Media Matters research fellow) also noted Tancredo's extensive connections to both Tanton and white nationalist activists:

Tancredo also enjoys star status among the white-collar anti-immigrationists of Tanton's network who have courted his support, donating $5,000 to his 2002 campaign through FAIR's U.S. Immigration Reform PAC and thousands more in personal donations. Leaders in Tanton's network have long sought a foothold on Capitol Hill and, through Tancredo, it appears their hopes have been realized.

The close working relationship between the Tanton network and Tancredo is most apparent on the Web site for the congressman's Immigration Reform Caucus. When Salon interviewed Tancredo earlier this year, the Web site contained links to FAIR, NumbersUSA, CIS and virtually every other Tanton creation. It also contained a link to VDare, a white nationalist Web site run by British writer Peter Brimelow that is named after Virginia Dare, the first white child born in the New World. When asked about the link, Tancredo was befuddled and indignant.

After the Salon.com article's publication, Tancredo scrubbed all links to outside groups from the caucus' website, though he wrote in a letter to Salon.com: “I had no reason to believe that this online magazine is anything but a legitimate contributor to the vast library of resources on this vital issue. After looking over Vdare's recent work, I have not changed this opinion.”