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Hate Groups Lobby Congress

New America Media, Commentary, Angela Kelley Posted: Sep 13, 2008

Editor's Note: In the wake of a week of anti-immigrant lobbying in Washington, NAM contributor Angela Kelley reflects that immigration policy in America is a pressing domestic priority deserving of sober analysis, not hateful hype. Kelley is the Director of the Immigration Policy Center at the American Immigration Law Foundation.

When did extreme become mainstream? That's the question immigrant advocates asked in a full-page ad in Capitol Hill newspapers this week, as about 50 supporters of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) marched into the offices of Congress, demanding an impractical and hateful agenda of mass deportations, worksite raids and other expensive and ultimately ineffective approaches, as part of their "Hold Their Feet to the Fire" lobbying week. CNN's Lou Dobbs further stoked the flames as he aired live from Washington along with dozens of right-wing radio hosts from across the country.

Also as part of the week's activities, a rally was held in front of the Capitol where legislators including Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), Brian Bilbray (R-Calif. and a member of FAIR's board of advisors) and Darryl Issa (R-Calif.) spoke to the attendees. Congressman Issa compared efforts to provide immigration relief to immediate family members of those serving in the armed services during war time to a "mini-amnesty," while Duncan Hunter went on to sing the virtues of a border wall being built on the Mexican border.

Controversy over FAIR's extremist ties dates back to its founder, John Tanton, who started FAIR with funds from the Pioneer Fund, a foundation committed to the belief that some races of people are genetically and intellectually superior to other races. Tanton, a pioneer of the anti-immigrant movement and avid supporter of eugenics, continues "defining the debate on immigration" as leader of FAIR and member of its board of directors. The Southern Poverty Law Center has named FAIR a "hate group." The list of other groups which have earned this distinction from SPLC include: the Ku Klux Klan and the Aryan Nations.

Dobbs and his allies in FAIR should worry less about holding lawmakers' feet to the fire, and work instead on getting their heads out of the sand. Lawmakers should be cautioned in associating themselves with hate groups. Immigration policy in America is a pressing domestic priority deserving of sober analysis, not hateful hype. FAIR's policy agenda is anchored in rounding folks up and keeping them out. An organization so short on policy solutions and so long in stirring intolerance should be getting a cold shoulder, not a warm embrace from CNN and these members of Congress.

Related Articles:

Immigration Fairytales

Pat Nixon at the U.S.-Mexico Border

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