Anti-Latino immigration group FAIR is secret closet ally of racist hate groups and bigots
By Alan Abrams
La Prensa Senior Correspondent
Who is John H. Tanton? And why is it important for you to know what he really stands for?
Much like the charlatan exposed at the end of the Wizard of Oz as an illusionist, Tanton plays the role of puppeteer, coordinating the activities of a variety of anti-immigration groups and organizations through the activities of his Washington, D.C.-based anti-immigration group FAIR (Federation for American Immigration Reform).
This is the organization whose Midwest Field Coordinator, Susan Tully, appeared (orally) on the WSPD radio talk show hosted by Bob Frantz (weekday mornings, 5:30-9:00 a.m., on 1370AM) earlier this month and vehemently attacked the matricula consular—the Mexican ID card—issued by the Mexican consulate in Detroit, Consul Antonio Meza Estrada and his staff.
Tully, who claimed on the show that all Mexican officials are corrupt, joined the FAIR staff in 2002. According to FAIR’s web site (www.fairus.org), she is a former business owner, manager for municipal code enforcement, Immigration Coordinator for Coalition of Government Officials (southern California), and president of Citizens Committee for Immigration Policy; she has appeared on national TV and radio/talk shows across the country.
But if she parroted the same canards she espoused on WSPD Radio, she has been spreading vicious falsehoods.
Tully alleged that the matricula consular is obtained only by illegal immigrants. Not so—those with legal status also acquire the card while abroad, as they are required to do by the Mexican government.
The card is accepted as official identification and is the subject of a pending resolution before the three-member Lucas County Board of Commissioners calling for its official recognition by Lucas County.
Toledo, as well as numerous other cities and counties throughout Ohio and Michigan (and other states throughout the United States), have made such recognitions.
Contrary to the statements of Tully, the Mexican government does have a national data base in Mexico City (D.F.), which also shares its data with U.S. police authorities. It is for this reason that over 1,000 such law enforcement organizations recommend that such ID cards be recognized. The cards also help prevent crime being perpetrated on undocumented individuals in the United States.
During the broadcast, Tully, who claimed that the cards are easily forged, threatened to produce three cards with the identifications of the Lucas County Commissioners. In reality, any identification—be it Ohio driver’s licenses, U.S. Passports, or Michigan driver’s licenses— can be reproduced, if this is the mindset of the producer.
However, the Commissioners may be unaware of the documented affiliations of Tanton or Tully and their organization with some of the most notorious race-baiting and bigoted groups in the nation.
Morris Dees is the courageous founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center (www.splcenter.org) in Montgomery, Alabama. It was Dees and the Southern Poverty Law Center that brought a successful civil suit in September 2000 against the racist Aryan Nations white supremacist group, its leader and several security guards, which resulted in the subsequent sale of its headquarters compound in Idaho.
Widely recognized as a leader in exposing the activities of right-wing hate-groups, the Southern Poverty Law Center publishes an influential Intelligence Report. Three years ago, the publication investigated Tanton and reported that a number of anti-immigration groups, including FAIR, are all the handiwork of Tanton.
The publication said that the claims of numerous anti-immigration groups alleging large membership bases was nothing more than a sham, with the majority of the groups having been formed by Tanton and funded by his allies on the far right.
Among these supporters are foundations controlled by the family of Mellon Bank heir Richard Mellon Scaife. He is the publisher of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, the right-wing daily newspaper that competes with John Block’s Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Why create the mirage of a movement claiming large numbers of members? False pictures of a grassroots movement create the image of a movement that is capable of swaying the votes of politicians. And that is one of Tanton’s goals.
The Southern Poverty Law Center’s researchers showed that many of the members claimed by Tanton’s array of anti-immigrant associations are affiliated with the ultra-racist Council of Conservative Citizens.
The Web site of the Anti-Defamation League traces this organization to the segregationist White Citizens Councils of the 1950s and links it to extremists such as Klansman David Duke. Their Web site has described African-Americans as being “a retrograde species of humanity.”
But even that pales with the Web site of American Patrol, a racist hate group also linked to FAIR and which until recently depicted the vile image of a cartoon figure urinating upon a Latino Medal of Freedom recipient.
Tanton is not merely responsible for creating an entire political movement, he can claim without exaggeration that he is the founding father of U.S.-America’s modern anti-immigration movement, reported the magazine’s investigators.
Tanton underwent a political conversion when he encountered “The Camp of the Saints,” a lurid, racist novel penned by French author Jean Raspail. That book depicts the invasion of the white Western world by hordes of starving, dark-skinned refugees. Tanton helped to get the book published in English and stimulated its sales by calling it “prophetic.”
Tanton co-founded FAIR in 1979 and then, in his own words, launched “a whole army of similar organizations.” Pro-immigration activist Rick Swartz first said, “Tanton is the puppeteer behind the entire movement.”
Remember the “English Only” movement? That was Tanton’s work. So was the passing of Proposition 187 in California in 1994 which denied social services to undocumented workers. But his greatest came in 1996 with passage of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act. That law required that asylum seekers be held in detention until they established a credible fear of persecution at home, a process that could take years.
Replying to the investigation by the Southern Poverty Law Center, Tanton wrote: “Having suffered the slings, arrows, barbs, insults, cheap shots, and body blows that have come as a result of taking a position in opposition to mass immigration, I would certainly not have reservations about claiming credit for being the guy secretly manipulating U.S. immigration policy.”
He concludes on an ironic note, saying that if he were the powerful puppeteer of the immigration-restrictionist movement then why have immigration levels in the United States been steadily rising since he started his fight for tighter controls on immigration flows.
According to Tanton, he is not against immigration but is an opponent of mass or massive immigration because it is not in his self-interest or that of other U.S. citizens.
“Most Americans,” writes Tanton, “oppose mass immigration because mass immigration is not in their interests. They are guilty of looking out for themselves and their perceived interests—exactly as the immigrants and their supporters do.”
Elaborating on the self-interest argument, Tanton explains. “Americans do not see the loss of their jobs or wages to immigrants to be in their interests. They do not see the crowding of their children's schools with large numbers of kids who have language and other difficulties to be in their interests. They do not see rapid cultural and linguistic transformations of their neighborhoods to be in their interests.”
More in La Prensa next week.
Is Fair Unfair? (PDF File)