The mainstream media is finally exposing “the man behind the curtain” of America’s anti-immigrant movement. This week, Village Voice Media published a piece entitled, “FAIR-y Tales” by Terry Greene Sterling, an award winning journalist and Writer-in-Residence at Arizona State University. Sterling’s in-depth investigative journalism blows the lid of off the John Tanton network and its anti-immigrant organizations—CIS, FAIR, IRLI (drafters of SB1070), Social Contract Press and Numbers USA. It even includes an interview with John Tanton, the unapologetic architect of the anti-immigrant movement in America.
Even today, John Tanton sees nothing wrong with associating with white nationalists. He says he doesn’t necessarily agree with them, but reaching out to them is part of his “coalition building.”
And he’s not ashamed of soliciting $1.5 million in unrestricted donations during FAIR’s early days from the Pioneer Fund, an American foundation that has long financed research in “race science.” FAIR doesn’t take Pioneer money anymore, though the creepy foundation still is going strong.
The Pioneer Fund’s current president, J. Philippe Rushton, is a Canadian college psychology professor who still studies race-intelligence connections.
Not since Rachel Maddow interviewed Dan Stein of FAIR, after passage of SB1070, has a journalist taken on the John Tanton anti-immigrant movement in America so directly.
Sterling also unpacks the fuzzy way these groups produce “data” on immigration and then pass it on to their friends on Capitol Hill and in state legislatures. Using the example of a FAIR report that attempted to enumerate the costs of undocumented immigration in Arizona (a report that buoyed passage of SB1070), Sterling points out that FAIR boosts the cost of illegal immigration in Arizona (by nearly $2.7 billion) by counting the U.S. children of undocumented immigrants.
And upon questioning, the author had a difficult time justifying his methodology:
Longtime FAIR staffer Jack Martin, who is not an economist but rather “a retired U.S. diplomat with consular experience,” put the Arizona report together.
In July, Martin said that he included in his report U.S. children born to undocumented immigrants as a cost of illegal immigration because they “wouldn’t be here” if their parents hadn’t been in the country illegally.
And if Mom and Dad returned to Mexico, they’d take their American children with them, Martin declared.
Asked why these same American kids mysteriously disappear from his report once they become adults and offset the cost of their educations by paying taxes, consuming, and working, Martin offered no rational answer. He posited that once these children reach adulthood, they no longer represent a “cost of illegal immigration” because if their parents were to be deported, the adult children probably would stay in the United States.
In short, Martin could not explain away the accounting trick at the heart of the “report” that helped justify SB 1070.”
Despite these groups’ nefarious associations and outright lies over the years, they have been able to gain incredible traction and harness a strong movement against sensible immigration reform in America. Even Tanton is surprised by his success.
Sometimes, when Tanton looks at how FAIR, NumbersUSA, the CIS, and other groups he’s touched have succeeded in turning the immigration debate his way, the old man feels a certain satisfaction about his life’s work.
“It is amazing,” he says, “how well we’ve done.”
FILED UNDER: Restrictionists, Rhetoric, undocumented immigration