Trump's Anti-Immigrant Campaign Is Rooted In White Nationalist Sentiment

It shouldn’t be surprising that Donald Trump has refused to renounce support from the leader of the Ku Klux Klan, as the GOP presidential frontrunner has relied on the backing of white nationalists throughout his campaign.

A new report released today by People For the American Way observes that many of the leading anti-immigrant groups in the U.S. are rooted in white nationalism and fears about a “Latin onslaught,” as John Tanton, the founder of a network of Nativist groups, put it.

“These leading anti-immigration groups poison the well on immigration reform in America,” said PFAW Senior Fellow Peter Montgomery. “Yet despite the fact that these groups peddle misinformation and pander to the xenophobic fringe to further their anti-immigration goals, they continue to wield influence in the media, in Congress, and on the campaign trail.”

Tanton, a retired ophthalmologist who helped establish groups such as the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), NumbersUSA and the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), was not shy about the racist agenda of his anti-immigrant activism:

In leaked memos from a 1986 strategy session, Tanton fretted specifically about Latino immigration — or what he called a “Latin onslaught” — seeing it as a threat to America’s white majority. He wrote that white Americans would have to “compete” with Latino immigrants and choose between having children and letting “someone else with greater reproductive powers occupy the space.”

“As whites see their power and control over their lives declining,” he asked, “will they simply go quietly into the night? Or will there be an explosion?”

In a 1996 letter, Tanton fretted about “less intelligent” people having children: “Do we leave it to individuals to decide that they are the intelligent ones who should have more kids? And more troublesome, what about the less intelligent, who logically should have less? Who is going to break the bad news [to less intelligent individuals], and how will it be implemented?” At one point, Tanton founded his own pro-eugenics organization, the Society for Genetic Education. He also authored a paper titled “The Case for Passive Eugenics.”

When the SPLC read through Tanton’s papers in 2008, the group found “a lengthy record of friendly correspondence with Holocaust deniers, a former Klan lawyer and leading white nationalist thinkers.”

One of these correspondents was Harry Weyher, a fellow eugenics proponent who for decades led a “race betterment” group, the Pioneer Fund, which became a financier of FAIR.

Tanton even established a media outlet specifically promoting his vision for white America, including the work of one activist who helped organize the racist pro-Trump robocalls in Iowa:

One of John Tanton’s most revealing creations is the Social Contract Press, an organization that SPLC lists as a hate group because it “routinely publishes race-baiting articles penned by white nationalists.” The press, which Tanton founded in 1990, is run out of Tanton’s foundation, U.S. Inc.

The Social Contract Press publishes a journal, “The Social Contract,” which Tanton edited for the first eight years of its existence. While Tanton continues to serve as the journal’s publisher, it is now edited by Wayne Lutton, who, according to SPLC, “has held leadership positions in four other white national hate groups,” including the Council of Conservative Citizens, and has said that white Americans “are the real Americans, not the Hmong, not Latinos, not the Siberian-Americans.”

“The Social Contract” has published a wide range of racist views, including an issue dedicated to attacking “multiculturalism” for replacing “successful Euro-American culture” and another issue dedicated entirely to reprinting articles from the white nationalist site VDARE. (Officials at CIS and at FAIR have also written for VDARE, which is named after Virginia Dare, thought to be the first child of English colonists born in America; one VDARE contributor, Jared Taylor, lent his voice to a robo-call urging Iowans to caucus for Trump because “we need smart, well-educated white people who assimilate to our culture” instead of Muslim immigrants.) FAIR spokesman Ira Mehlman has written several articles for “The Social Contract.”

Despite the Social Contract Press’ white nationalist ties, it continues to attract prominent members of the anti-immigrant movement, including members of the Tanton network, to its annual Writers Workshop. People who have spoken at the workshops include CIS Executive Director Mark Krikorian and policy staffer Jessica Vaughan and longtime FAIR attorney and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach. The year Vaughan spoke to the workshop, one of her fellow speakers was Peter Brimelow, founder and editor of the white nationalist website VDARE. Rep. Brian Babin, the Texas Republican who has become a leading voice in Congress against refugee resettlement, spoke at the 2015 Social Contract Writers Workshop.

And yet, the GOP continues to rely on the Tanton network to shape their party’s approach to immigration reform.