CNN Turns To Anti-Immigrant Hate Group FAIR For Immigration Commentary

In an August 19 article on the Obama administration's decision to prioritize deportation cases in federal immigration courts, CNN turned to the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), an anti-immigrant group described as a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), for criticism. In its report, CNN quoted from FAIR president Dan Stein's statement on the administration's decision:

But the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), which advocates changing policies to decrease the number of immigrants coming to the United States, said in a statement on its website that the action by the Obama administration “amounts to an administrative amnesty and a sweeping overhaul of the nation's immigration policy without approval by Congress.”

FAIR President Dan Stein said in the statement, “In essence, the administration has declared that U.S. immigration is now virtually unlimited to anyone willing to try to enter and only those who commit violent felonies after arrival are subject to enforcement.”

As SPLC has noted, “FAIR leaders have ties to white supremacist groups and eugenicists and have made many racist statements.” Further, according to SPLC, FAIR has accepted grants from the Pioneer Fund, “a eugenicist organization that was started in 1937 by men close to the Nazi regime who wanted to pursue 'race betterment' by promoting the genetic lines of American whites” and produced a television program that “featured a number of prominent white nationalists.” Here is how SPLC describes FAIR:

The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) is a group with one mission: to severely limit immigration into the United States. Although FAIR maintains a veneer of legitimacy that has allowed its principals to testify in Congress and lobby the federal government, this veneer hides much ugliness. FAIR leaders have ties to white supremacist groups and eugenicists and have made many racist statements. Its advertisements have been rejected because of racist content. FAIR's founder, John Tanton, has expressed his wish that America remain a majority-white population: a goal to be achieved, presumably, by limiting the number of nonwhites who enter the country. One of the group's main goals is upending the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, which ended a decades-long, racist quota system that limited immigration mostly to northern Europeans. FAIR President Dan Stein has called the Act a “mistake.”

The Anti-Defamation League has also pointed out FAIR's "[h]istory of extremist ties" and its strategy of founding and empowering smaller groups that promote xenophobia":

Controversy over FAIR's extremist ties dates back to its founder, John Tanton, a pioneer of the anti-immigrant movement. In 1997, he told the Detroit Free Press that if the borders are not secured, America will be overrun by people “defecating and creating garbage and looking for jobs.”

Tanton founded several other organizations, including U.S. English, a group that seeks to make English the official language of the United States. He also publishes The Social Contract, an anti-immigration journal whose Website links to a number of extremist sites, including VDare, a Website that publishes racist, anti-Semitic, and anti-immigrant articles. In fact, the Spring 2008 issue of The Social Contract is devoted entirely to reprinting material that originally appeared on VDare. An article in the Spring 2007 issue of the journal lauds Sam Francis, a deceased white supremacist, as a “formidable and articulate champion.”

The Social Contract also links to American Border Patrol, the virulently anti-Hispanic border vigilante group whose leader, Glenn Spencer, claimed that the Mexican government is “sponsoring the invasion of the United States with hostile intent,” and the Minutemen, a loose network of local chapters around the country, whose primary goal is to keep undocumented immigrants from Mexico out of the United States. The more extreme Minutemen chapters advocate patrols of the Mexican-American border by armed volunteers.

Moreover, Stein himself has a history of inflammatory anti-immigrant rhetoric. For instance, SPLC reports that in 1994, Stein said:

I blame ninety-eight percent of responsibility for this country's immigration crisis on Ted Kennedy and his political allies, who decided some time back in 1958, earlier perhaps, that immigration was a great way to retaliate against Anglo-Saxon dominance and hubris, and the immigration laws from the 1920s were just this symbol of that, and it's a form of revengism, or revenge, that these forces continue to push the immigration policy that they know full well are [sic] creating chaos and will continue to create chaos down the line.

And SPLC notes that in 1997, Stein said that "[i]mmigrants don't come all church-loving, freedom-loving, God-fearing ... Many of them hate America, hate everything that the United States stands for. Talk to some of these Central Americans."

Stein has recently pushed anti-immigrant rhetoric on Fox News as well. In March, he appeared on Fox & Friends to fearmonger about “anchor babies” and “birth tourism.” And during a November 2010 edition of Fox & Friends, he called the DREAM Act a “backdoor amnesty program” that is “full of loopholes for fraud.”

As media outlets continue to report on the Obama administration's new immigration guidelines, one thing is certain: They should not be mainstreaming anti-immigrant hate groups such as FAIR.