The anti-immigration group Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) announced last week that it will be holding a press conference tomorrow to present a “step-by-step transition document” that it has created for President-elect Donald Trump to help him “hit the ground running” on immigration policy.
FAIR promises “a detailed agenda for reforming immigration policy in the public interest under the Trump administration,” including “suggestions for overhauling the legal immigration process, addressing illegal immigration and enforcement of laws in the interior of the country, and refugee policy and national security.” The group adds that it “looks forward to advising the new administration on true immigration reform.”
It’s likely not just wishful thinking on FAIR’s part that it assumes it will be able to influence Trump’s immigration policy. The Trump transition team’s top immigration adviser, Kris Kobach, is a longtime ally of the group and maintains an “of counsel” position at its legal arm, the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI). FAIR also has a close relationship with Sen. Jeff Sessions, the Alabama Republican whom Trump intends to nominate as attorney general and whose staff members are playing an outsized role on Trump’s transition team.
FAIR has already signaled some of the policies that it hopes it can influence President Trump to enact. In a May memo, the group advocated for what has become known as “self-deportation,” the idea that if life is made as difficult as possible for undocumented immigrants they will flee on their own rather than being deported by the government. The memo also argued for a revisionist reading of the 14th Amendment that would bar the children of undocumented immigrants from the Constitution’s guarantee of birthright citizenship, a step that Trump has supported, and flirted with the idea of allowing public schools to deny education to undocumented children. (FAIR’s president, Dan Stein, recently urged Congress to “re-litigate” the Supreme Court decision ensuring free public education for undocumented children.)
FAIR has gently cheered on Trump as he has taken hardline anti-immigration positions, noting the candidate’s “extremely contradictory” rhetoric on the issue but praising some of his formal proposals. When Trump proposed a blanket ban on all Muslims entering the United States, FAIR mildly pushed back on the idea but noted that it has called for decades for an even more sweeping proposal, an “overall time out on most immigration.”
While FAIR generally tries to strike a mild tone in its promotion of extreme anti-immigration policies, it has a troubling history of ties to outright white nationalism. FAIR is the central organization in a network of groups founded by John Tanton, a Michigan ophthalmologist who has created an infrastructure to support immigration restrictions while toying with the ideas of white nationalism, eugenics and extreme “population control” measures like China’s one-child policy. Tanton, who founded FAIR in 1979, remains on its board of advisers.
Since then, FAIR staff and advisers, including Stein, have continued to express troubling views about immigration and reproductive freedom while promoting the views of white nationalists and even accepting money from a pro-eugenics organization, as we laid out in our report on the organization earlier this year:
A short-lived television program produced by FAIR in 1996 featured interviews with well-known white nationalists Sam Francis, Jared Taylor and Peter Brimelow, and a common area of discussion was that the immigrant “invasion” would destroy America. Stein, interviewing one guest, wondered, “How can we preserve America if it becomes 50 percent Latin American?” In a 1991 interview for an article on the higher birth rates among Asian and Latino immigrants than among native-born Americans, Stein said, “It’s almost like they’re getting into competitive breeding. You have to take into account the various fertility rates in designing limits on immigration.” Six years later, he told the Wall Street Journal, “Certainly we would encourage people in other countries to have small families. Otherwise they’ll all be coming here, because there’s no room at the Vatican.”
Over a period of 10 years in the 1980s and 1990s, FAIR took in more than $1 million from the Pioneer Fund, which SPLC describes as “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 for several years afterward continued to receive support from individual leaders of the fund.
Over the years, FAIR’s board of directors and board of advisors have included people who are hardly circumspect about the goals of their activism. The current co-chairman of FAIR’s board of advisors, Donald Collins, Sr., writes frequently for the racist website VDARE, often playing up the fact that he identifies as “a proud liberal Democrat” (albeit one who is a big fan of Donald Trump). On VDARE, Collins has written that the country could face another civil war if “the Left’s plan … to turn our country into just another part of the Third World comes true.”
Other FAIR spokespeople have also expressed troubling views in favor of government control of reproduction. One now-deceased FAIR board member, Garrett Hardin, praised China’s one-child policy, saying that it did not go far enough, and lamented that the developing world is populated with “the next generation of breeders.” Hardin said in response to a famine in Ethiopia that “[s]ending food to Ethiopia does more harm than good” because it would “only encourage population growth.”
Asked about Hardin’s views by the Wall Street Journal in 1997, Stein attempted to whitewash China’s one-child policy, calling it an “international family planning program.” Of Hardin’s view that the government should “encourage the breeding of more intelligent people rather than the less intelligent,” he asked, “Yeah, so what? What is your problem with that? Should we be subsidizing people with low IQs to have as many children as possible, and not subsidizing those with high ones?”