Conservative journalist Ann Coulter enjoyed each and every word she used to describe the satisfaction she would derive from watching undocumented people running along the U.S.-Mexico border in response to the threat of a drone that is pursuing them.
“I like the idea of the Great Wall of Trump,” commented Coulter in August of last year during the presentation by Republican candidate Donald Trump during a tour through Iowa. “I want to have a two drink minimum. Make it a big world-wide tourist attraction, and every day, live drone shows whenever anyone tries to cross the border,” she added.
This contemporary version of the Roman circus is but a sample of the relatively unknown turn being taken by the electoral rhetoric in the United States, based on what many would agree in identifying as the strategy of fear.
“I believe Mr. Trump is a spokesman for the discourse of fear. I believe he is a perfect example of how to instill fear in a community with some purpose that isn’t clearly visible for the population as a whole,” stated psychologist María Basualdo who works with agricultural immigrants in south Florida.
The rhetoric has been shown to be very effective in matters of politics and business. Trump has forced the rest of the Republican candidates to harden their anti-immigrant discourse, which is being reflected in greater contributions and more campaign followers. But fear mongering has also multiplied the earnings of an entire industry that profits from immigration control: companies providing protective services and border security, private detention centers, providers of bail bonds, as well as sellers of electronic ankle bracelets, immigration lawyers and charter airlines used to deport undocumented persons.
In the name of confronting the threat of illegal immigration, the federal government has also managed to increase the size of the bureaucratic machinery at such a rate that today federal agencies and programs dedicated to the matter of immigration have a budget that is greater than that of all other law enforcement agencies combined, according to a study by the Migration Policy Institute.
“There is a mythology that the government is not doing anything to control immigration and that it’s not a priority, that nothing has changed in recent decades for better control of the border,” explained Marc Rosenblum, an analyst at the Migration Policy Institute. “And the truth is that there has been a priority and very strong measures are being taken along the border and inside the country in order to control this and find undocumented people within.”
Smitten by the same discourse, states are beginning to try to see if, by citing the fearsome encroachment by the undocumented, it will also work for seeking budgetary allocations for the local governments. In this way, Texas has managed to have a total of 900 million dollars approved for operations that include patrol officers who now show very little activity because the flow of immigrants has diminished, and they end up just issuing traffic tickets. The disproportion between the expenditure and the operations is such that an arrest may end up having a cost of a little under half a million dollars.
“The rhetoric is working because, unfortunately, many times people react when a message is based on fear and not because one always feels insecure in life,” states Tania Galloni, director of the Southern Poverty Law Center in Florida. “And it’s much easier if I can blame another person for the insecurity I feel in my life.”
At the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), a conservative organization, the situation has apocalyptic inklings. “When the public becomes fearful that we have lost control of our borders and have lost our ability of self-determination as a nation, you have planted the seeds of the convulsion, the political convulsion,” Dan Stein said to Univision. He is the director of the institution that has been challenged for allegedly inspiring theories of white race supremacy.
For several weeks reporters from Univision Investiga travelled throughout the United States and Mexico in order to gain an understanding of how the business of fear mongering operates. They followed the path of an undocumented Guatemalan family through the labyrinth of this industry; they spoke with representatives from organizations belonging to both extremes of this controversy; they consulted with members of Congress, economists and other experts, in addition to reviewing hundreds of legal and accounting documents.
Marvin Corado believed he would be happy once he was free. “As we were before,” He said on the eve of being released from detention at the Broward Transitional Center in Pompano Beach, Florida in 2012. “A family that none of these obstacles could separate.”
The obstacles mentioned by Corado were related to the ordeal that he, his wife, and daughter lived since they arrived to the U.S. looking for a job and stability, 16 years ago.
The Corado family never saw their dream come to fruition. “The husband who left my house one day to go to work did not return (…). I don’t know, I don’t know what has happened, but my life hasn’t been the same since he had to enter the immigration facility, unfortunately,” said his wife Leslie.
For three and a half years the team from Univision Investiga followed the footsteps of this 32-year-old immigrant from Guatemala in an attempt to understand the breadth of the legal and illegal deals that have hovered around his drama, starting from the day his father mortgaged their house to pay the human trafficker that brought him to the United States, and ending with the final payment to an immigration lawyer in Miami.
Marvin’s stay at this detention center for immigrants meant that on average revenues upwards of 20,000 dollars went to GEO Group, the company that owns that center. During the year that Marvin was detained GEO Group received an average of 166 dollars per detainee every night a figure that today has gone up to 193 dollars.
“Immigration is a very lucrative business for investors, stockholders and politicians,” explained Daniel Carrillo, director of Enlace, an organization that looks after the rights of immigrants.
After 2008, the profile for detainees and deportees shifted from that of immigrants with criminal sentences or who were recent arrivals to that of working age men who have lived in the United States for longer than one year, some during most of their lives. Immigrants were no longer being detained solely for having committed crimes, but for much simpler reasons, often for traffic infractions as was the case with Marvin.
When he was detained, Marvin had been in the United States 12 years and was on his way to work. “I was arrested for not having a license. I was waiting for the green light, the police officer pulled up alongside me this way, on the left side, next to me, and waited until the light turned green, and he then turned on his flashing lights.”
He was held in a prison for three months. The day he was released the immigration judge told his wife, as she recalls: “‘Now you can go have dinner with your family.’ And we believed her.” Instead of that, they kept him 129 more days at the detention center.
The companies that run detention centers not only receive generous subsidies from the government, but they also reduce their operational costs to a minimum by employing inmates for trivial sums.
Marvin worked in the detention center kitchen for four and a half hours for one dollar a day. According to Marvin, the detainees did all the work, such as cleaning, kitchen detail and laundry. In the kitchen, he added, there was only one outside employee working there; the rest of the labor was done by the detainees themselves.
Conditions which led immigrants in an Aurora detention center to file a class action lawsuit in Colorado against GEO group. The plaintiffs said that they were the victims of “forced labor” and that sometimes they didn’t even receive the meagre salary of one dollar per day of work. The litigation is still in progress.
Wilberth Góngora, a Mexican who for the past 18 years of his life had lived in Denver, where two of his children were born, was detained in August of last year in Aurora.
“A package of 20 crackers would cost us $3, yet the street value was 99 cents. Well, there they doubled the prices. Also, a soft drink can cost almost $3,” Wilberth recounted.
Another common problem was the charges for telephone calls. They were made by means of cards that had to be activated through a company that was authorized by the facility. Calls were a twenty cents a minute equivalent to an hour and a half of labor.
“The telephone companies have monopoly control over the charges they assess for making these calls. This means that the families [at the detention centers] encounter difficulties in speaking with their lawyers or family and relatives,” stated California Assembly Member Lorena González, who represents cities situated to the south of San Diego.
González has fought against these abuses and one more that turns out to be recurrent: fraud committed by lawyers. She has managed to have two legislative bills passed that protect the undocumented from being made to pay upfront with the false promise that they will be first in line to have their cases settled, once the litigation related to President Obama’s executive action has ended.
Since the year 2000, the Justice Department has suspended 673 litigators nationwide, mostly in California, New York, Florida and Washington, DC.
Marvin explained to Univision Investiga that he has paid more than 10,000 dollars to the six lawyers he has had, and that the results have been disappointing.
“They took advantage of me. They charge me a certain amount of money, (they say) that they will get my paperwork done, that they will talk to immigration, that they will send the papers, and then they tell me that immigration rejected them (…) I have wasted a lot of money, and the truth is that this continues being the same, they have not solved anything,” he related.
Among immigrants who are not considered by ICE to pose a high risk of escaping from the immigration authorities before their court date, the Alternate Detention Program has been implemented, which also benefits private businesses, and works by means of electronic devices attached to their ankles that serve as virtual shackles.
Thanks to pressure from civil organizations and the fact that his wife demonstrated in front of the center and went public with his case, Marvin was not deported. Wilberth, however, did become part of the 2.8 million individuals deported by ICE during this six-year period, according to statistics from 2008 to 2015.
Many of them are transferred within the United States and to their countries of origin onboard private planes chartered by the immigration authorities. A report issued in April of 2015 by the Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) stated that the private companies performing these transfers move many detainees back and forth to the same place, on flights that are half empty, prior to deporting them.
The main beneficiary of this part of the deal is CSI Aviation Services of New Mexico, owned by Allen Weh, a Marine veteran of the wars in Vietnam and Iraq who was also a Republican candidate for US senator in 2014. During Obama’s two terms, his company has earned more than 790 million dollars thanks to these transfers.
Once they are in Mexico, many of the deportees find a second chance for employment at companies that run call centers that benefit from this new profile that provides them with employees that are not only bilingual but also bicultural.
Just in the border city of Tijuana, the second busiest point of entry for deportees to Mexico, the call centers employ 12,000 people, of whom 70% are deportees, according to what Jorge Oros said to Univision. Oros is president of a call center cluster in Baja California. In Mexico, these repatriated individuals earn one fifth as much as they did in the United States for doing the same work.
“There is a business built around deportations,” stated González. “Everywhere, starting with the lawyers and ending with the telephone companies and private prisons. We know people are making a lot of money,” she concluded.
When Trump Tweets
In March of 2015, Donald Trump wrote to his more than 4.5 million Twitter followers: “Because of Rodolfo Rosas Moya, who owes me lots of money, Mexico will never again host the Miss Universe Pageant.”
This message may hold the key to the disdain Trump has shown toward the Mexican people. The story behind the Tweet is a complicated lawsuit between the Miss Universe Organization, where Trump was the majority stockholder, and several Mexican entrepreneurs.
Rodolfo Rosas Moya, the person that was fully identified and attacked in Trump’s Tweet, is an urban development engineer in a prosperous tourist area on Mexico’s Caribbean, known as the Riviera Maya. Rosas, age 60, was part of a group of area investors who were successful in having the Miss Universe Pageant choose Cancún in 2007 as one of the venues for the beauty contest in Mexico. These investors believed the contest would help to project to the world once again the area’s tourism image, which had suffered noticeably as a result of the pounding it had received from Hurricane Wilma the year before.
The Miss Universe Organization signed a contract calling for Grupo Promotor MU México to act as host and a contract with Mexican entrepreneur Pedro Rodríguez and with the firm Comercializadora Ronac for guaranteeing sponsorships. Rosas is a Ronac stockholder. The Mexicans agreed to secure sponsorships for the contest from the municipal governments of Mexico City and Cancún, and from the state of Chiapas. They also assumed responsibility for organizing the management of the event, which is viewed by a television audience of more than one billion. The three city and state governments contributed a total of 6.5 million dollars. In order to guarantee payment by the states, the entrepreneurs provided a number of houses and vacant lots owned by them.
Understanding the way in which the preparation for the contest was carried out depends on who tells the story. The lawyer for the Miss Universe in Mexico, Juan Francisco Torres-Landa, claimed it was a disaster.
“The contest was so poorly organized and so lacking that there was a possibility, or we considered the possibility, of having to cancel it,” stated Torres-Landa.
But Rosas affirms that there were no major problems, except for the usual problems that always crop up at this kind of event.
“When the contest was over, and during the days leading up to that, I did not discover that there had been a problem. Everything was very cordial,” he said. “There wasn’t even a single complaint after the contest.”
According to the contest’s assistant producer, Gabriel Chino, there were no problems as far as he was concerned. “Right after the show ended, [the general producer] thanked us and told us the Mexican team he had worked with had been the best team he had worked with anywhere in the world.”
The fact remains that the complaints by the Trump organization were not immediately filed in any courts in Mexico or the United States.
However, two years and four months after the contest, and much to Rosas’s surprise, the Miss Universe lawyer managed to put a lien on 25 vacant lots belonging to Comercializadora Ronac, the company that held title to the properties that had been provided as collateral to guarantee payment by the states.
Rosas explains that the worst part of all is that the lots which had been placed under a lien were not the ones that had been set aside as collateral.
“What they have done, in a cunning way, is create a cautionary lien. What is a cautionary lien? I embargo or freeze your properties while we clarify whether or not that company owes me anything,” explained Rosas. “But that’s not affecting me, and well, not me, but it’s affecting the property owners that are going to buy the lots.”
The contest’s lawyer, who maintained that he had made every effort to arrive at a friendly agreement, casts doubt on the story that the legal action had come as a surprise.
“Our intentions were unsuccessful, basically because the calls were not being answered or because, whenever there was an answer, that answer was evasive. ‘I’ll get back to you right away,’ or ‘Wait awhile, I’m already working out a solution.’”
According to Rosas, the hardest blow came later. In October of 2014 the Miss Universe succeeded in having an arbitration court in New York rule against the defendant companies in the amount of 12 million dollars for failure to comply with the contract for acting as host.
The arbitration ruling describes in detail a long list of alleged breaches of contract by the defendants. It accuses them of failing to provide timely payment of sponsorships, surety bonds and rent for some of the facilities, and failure to set up the production offices; failure to hire security personnel and failure to cover food and lodging for the contestants, production costs and airfare.
According to the arbitration ruling, “Rodríguez, Rosas and others had used many of the airline tickets for their personal trips.”
The legal tale after the curtain was lowered upon completion of the contest has grown increasingly complicated over time.
During the past six years, the lawsuit has filled up several volumes in parallel trials in Mexico and the United States, where both parties have won part of the battle, yet nobody has managed to collect a single penny.
Going back and forth from one country to the other, there are obvious differences in the story. For example, the arbitration ruling in New York accuses the Mexican organizers of failing to contribute the first million dollars that were to go to the Miss Universe as part of the payment.
According to this account, the Mexicans obtained the money from the government of Quintana Roo, where the Riviera Maya is located, and delivered it to the Miss Universe “in late December of 2007.”
In Mexico, the story is different. Nine months before this date, as attested thereto in New York, the Miss Universe representatives had signed another document where they acknowledged they already had control of those million dollars. In their ruling, the arbitrators in the United States did not reflect any analysis that would clarify this difference.
The battle of the lawyers has focused on what would be the real number of vacant lots to which the Miss Universe had rights as part of the collateral. The plaintiffs affirm that these consist of 25 lots belonging to Rosas’ company, located in an urban area near Playa del Carmen, a paradisiac spot on the Mexican Caribbean. The defense counsel for the Mexican entrepreneur replies that there are only six. A document, a copy of which Univision obtained, pertaining to the initial venture signed by the organizers and Rosas in March of 2007 would say that the Miss Universe is right.
These 25 lots are mentioned there, even though it also says that only “some were to be deeded over” to the contest.
But another document signed a month later, and also in the hands of this news medium, radically changes the story. Only six lots are specified as being a financial commitment by the company belonging to urban developer Rosas.
During the litigation, counsel for the defense of the Miss Universe has challenged the validity of the signature on this second document. The Mexicans insist this is an incorrect claim. Their argument: the president of the Miss Universe Organization, Paula Shugart, had signed a letter instructing HSBC Bank to conduct the necessary transactions before the public registry in order to take possession of six vacant lots, not 25.
Businessman Rosas had his own hypothesis. He does not discard the possibility that Trump’s true intention is to take over the area’s vacant lots, whose real estate value has increased considerably. Rosas remembers that on one occasion Shugart had told him that Donald Trump had mentioned the possibility of building a Trump Tower on the Riviera Maya.
Violeta Márquez, a realtor with Sotheby’s International Riviera Maya, confirms the enormous increase in real estate values in the region, which has become a summer place for stars such as Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts, Adam Sandler and Justin Timberlake.
“In the matter of prices there has also been a large increase because, despite the supply being quite ample, the demand definitely exceeds the supply,” she recounted when interviewed.
Torres-Landa qualified Rosas’ suspicions as being “absurd” because, as he explained, what the contest organization wants is to have the banks foreclose on the lots and thus receive payment from them.
Trump is openly distrustful of Mexican justice. Last February, in a Tweet containing these accusations, he wrote: “I have a lawsuit in Mexico’s corrupt court system that I won but so far can’t collect. Don’t do business with Mexico!”
The message caused much controversy because it was posted two days after Mexican movie director Alejandro González Iñárritu had won the Oscar as best director and for best movie, with his Birdman film.
It was the beginning of a long chain of discrediting statements directed against Mexico, which have marked a part of Trump’s run-up to the presidential campaign and led to networks Univision and NBC cancelling their contracts for broadcasting the Miss Universe.
Mexican corporate lawyer Carlos Odriozola analyzed several documents pertaining to the lawsuits over the vacant lots in Playa del Carmen upon request by Univision. He considers all the scenarios that have been set forth thus far in the litigation to be normal.
“The fact that there are several trials underway does not mean there is any corruption,” he explained. “When there are people, or plaintiffs, who do not quickly obtain the best possible results they expect, sometimes it is too easy to blame the judge.”
The Virtual Border Returns and Becomes Part of the Game
Mexico’s border with the United States is the most visible symbol in the war against illegal immigration. Radical and moderate politicians in the Republican Party, and some Democrats, agree that the area needs to be fortified despite the fact that the number of undocumented individuals crossing the border has diminished.
They do differ as to the magnitude of the project. The most ambitious proposal, advocated by Donald Trump, consists of building a concrete wall along a distance of almost 2,000 miles.
In any case, the border is once again a business opportunity for security and defense companies. In addition to the physical barriers already installed, the federal government is betting on a technology that already failed.
In 2011, the Department of Homeland Security saw it necessary to cancel the SBInet Program, a virtual border surveillance project that had been assigned to the Boeing Company. Up to that moment it had cost $1.1 billion and covered only 53 miles in the state of Arizona.
“The technology they used did not work at all. Because it was in the desert and the sand was a problem for the cameras. When there was a wind, the cameras wouldn’t work. Nor could they distinguish between immigrants and animals crossing the desert,” explained Marc Rosenblum, an analyst at the Migration Policy Institute.
A report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), an arm of the U.S. Congress, detected 1,300 defects in the equipment. Among these defects it cited failed tests and systematic shortcomings.
The virtual wall has been put up again. The government awarded a contract for the acquisition of an integrated fixed tower to Elbit Systems of America, a subsidiary of the Israeli firm Elbit Systems Ltd. In order to obtain the $145 million contract, Elbit Systems presented, as part of its experience, the building of the wall that separates Israel from Palestine, known as the Israeli West Bank Barrier. This contract is part of a $700 million package.
The execution of the new contract is already showing troublesome signs. In March of 2014, GAO director Rebecca Gambler testified before a Subcommittee of the House of Representatives that, generally speaking, the calendars and estimates for the programs “met some but not all best practices” She cited that “the schedule for the IFT program partially met the characteristic of being credible in that CBP had performed a schedule risk analysis for the program, but the risk analysis was not based on any connection between risks and specific activities.”
The States Also Weep
In seeking and obtaining funds, several states now understand how effective it is when they include any one of the several expressions of the fear of illegal immigration. Texas has taken the lead and has succeeded in this as part of the plan to fortify the border shared with Mexico.
In an unprecedented decision, the state will spend $800 million during the next two years in a security operation designed to block the way for immigrants that enter into the United States by way of its southern border. In this way, Texas becomes the state along the Mexican border that is spending the most in this effort. Expenditures by New Mexico, Arizona and California combined are less than one percent of what Texas is earmarking for that purpose.
“We’re spending even more dollars in new police personnel, cameras to detect activity along the border, as well as more aircraft and boats that will allow us to secure the border […] No price to be paid is sufficient for protecting people’s safety in this country,” Texas Governor Greg Abbott said to Univision.
In defending the budgetary allocation of $800 million to Operation Strong Safety (OSS), state authorities emphasize the need to increase surveillance in the 15 counties along the border with Mexico, for purposes of curtailing the flow of undocumented immigrants that cross the border. Paradoxically, state authorities cannot directly interfere with people who enter into the country without any immigration documents because this matter is the responsibility of the federal government. In this way, the role played by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) is limited.
“Today, we’re still seeing nearly 15,000 people crossing the border each month, without permission to do so,” Abbott said upon being challenged about the high cost of the OSS. “We don’t know who these people are, what we do know is that an ever greater number is from countries other than Mexico, countries that have ties to terrorism. Our job and my job as governor is to be sure to keep Texas safe,” the governor added.
Despite the multi-million-dollar expenditure, during the first nine months of implementing the OSS, from June of 2014 to February of 2015, DPS officials arrested just 53 people suspected of committing some crime, according to figures issued by the agency to Univision Investiga.
During the same period, when $102 million were allocated to the special surveillance operation, state police officers conducted 156 operations that led to the confiscation of drugs, while 7 resulted in the confiscation of firearms, which is almost like spending half a million dollars on each of these actions.
“I hadn’t seen those numbers and it surprises me that they’re so low,” Texas Democratic State Senator from Brownsville Eddie Lucio acknowledged to Univision. These figures were not submitted to legislators during the analysis of the legislation that fast-tracked the $800 million funding for extending the OSS.
Despite the lack of information, Lucio voted in favor of extending the OSS for the next two years.
While the border is becoming militarized, statistics from the Department of Homeland Security indicate that the number of apprehended undocumented immigrants is diminishing. During the first six months of fiscal year 2015, the number of apprehensions decreased by 28 percent in comparison with the same fiscal period in 2014.
From September of 2014 to March of 2015 there were 151,805 apprehensions, 60,000 less than in the same period of the previous fiscal year.
“It’s all political, all political,” opines Sylvia García, Texas State Senator from Houston, upon reflecting on the measures initiated by Texas authorities to safeguard the border shared with the Mexican Republic.
“That’s a lot of money to spend on border security, when that’s not the state’s job or responsibility. They (Texas authorities) say it’s because the feds are not doing their job. But if you look at the facts, the feds are there,” concluded the state senator, who voted against the package of measures that extended the OSS until 2017.
As part of the security operation, hundreds of DPS officers were mobilized to the border counties. A year later their presence is more noticeable along stretches of U.S. Route 83, which runs through five of these counties in the border region, and then heads northward away from the border.
“They’re issuing many traffic tickets for not wearing a seat belt, going over the speed limit, or running a red light. But that’s not their concern, that’s something we can do,” assures José ‘Fito’ Salinas, mayor of La Joya.
According to the mayor, state officers should focus their efforts on the war against the violence generated by the illegal drug market in the region, and not so much on enforcing traffic laws. Salinas points out that the municipality he governs, 15 miles west of McAllen, has lost half its usual revenues derived from traffic tickets that are no longer being issued by his local police officers, causing a budgetary problem for the city government.
In Starr County, traffic violation spiraled upward by 233 percent, compared to 2012, according to an analysis in the El Paso Times.
Residents in the region have also expressed concern for the large number of state officers on the highways. Organizations such as La Unión del Pueblo Entero (LUPE) – The Entire People’s Union – have reported cases of several drivers being turned over to immigration authorities in cases where they have been unable to prove to DPS officers their legal presence in the country.
“It’s a situation that creates panic in the community,” commented John Michael Torres of the LUPE.
As part of expanding the OSS, 250 new DPS officers will be hired over the next two years.
For security analyst Nelson Balido, the massive mobilization of state police officers to the border as part of the special safety operation was a “precipitous” decision, tainted with political overtones. “The flow of unaccompanied children was already diminishing, but it was when the news broke out that everybody wanted to do something about it […] Among the agencies, there was a lack of shared information necessary for coming up with a better response,” opined Balido, for whom the best option is to increase state spending on local police departments.
During the same period in which the DPS officers took into custody 53 people, under the OSS, officers of the Hidalgo County Sherriff’s Office, with jurisdiction over the city of McAllen, carried out 7,099 arrests. The average annual budget for that agency is $25 million.
“The counties know more about their own house, about their own towns, than does any other person you might bring in from Dallas, or from Houston, or from Lubbock or El Paso,” noted Balido as he criticized the decision to bring into the Rio Grande Valle DPS officers who have been trained in other parts of the state.
The Two Faces of FAIR
The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) in the United States is one of the most influential anti-immigrant organizations in Washington.
FAIR advocates a radical reform and other measures that seek the deportation of the greatest possible number of undocumented individuals, a reduction in the maximum amount of legal immigration permitted, and a strengthening of the borders.
The organization prides itself in reporting it has more than 250,000 members and followers, conservatives as well as liberals, and that its members have testified before the Congress of the United States. At its offices, reports are prepared dealing with the subject, and lobbying strategies are devised.
According to its website, FAIR spent 160,449 dollars in lobbying in 2014.
As contributions to victories by the anti-immigrant movement, FAIR cites the defeat of immigration reform in Congress and the passing of initiatives in Arizona and Alabama.
Other organizations have criticized FAIR for its ties to figures that promote theories of white race supremacy. Among these organizations one finds the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a foundation that monitors hate groups.
SPLC maintains that John Tanton, who founded FAIR and was on the institution’s board of directors up until 2011, has made statements that reflect a suspicious affinity to the ideologies of hate groups such as the Ku Klux Klan and the Holocaust deniers.
“We know what lies behind this. We know the roots of these ideas. We know they’re connected to groups that have been founded by people that support the Nazi régime,” Tania Galloni, director of the SPLC in Florida, told Univision.
“We don’t believe in any organization that tries to censor or discredit other people’s political speech” – Dan Stein.
We confronted FAIR’s director, Dan Stein, with the statement by the SPLC and he responded: “Well, we don’t recognize the Southern Poverty Law Center as a legitimate organization. They have no basis for passing judgment or anything similar. Who made them lord of the universe?”
Stein added that his organization is made up of citizens, among whom one finds immigrants who have points of view about public policies.
“We don’t believe in any organization that tries to censor or discredit other people’s political speech,” he added.
In October of 2015, Stein received us at the Washington offices and expanded his points of view:
What are the objectives of this organization?
We love immigration history, but we also recognize that a nation has to make choices on immigration based on the nation’s needs and those of future generations. Thus, immigration must be limited and the borders secured. They have to be controlled. As part of our national self-determination it’s important to know how big we want to be. To what extent should our population grow? So that immigration does not become a burden for this country and create more problems than it solves.
Do you have any Hispanics on your board of directors?
Well, I don’t know if we have a Hispanic American on our board, but we have many Hispanic American activists and members. But let me say something, this is a very polarized and challenging subject. A young Hispanic American professional who tries to work on our side will be under enormous harassment and ridicule coming from lobbying organizations on the other side.
On what kind of issues have you been lobbying?
In the matter of the amnesty draft legislation by the Gang of Eight [the immigration reform bill passed by the Senate in 2013], we were opposed because we thought it was bad legislation.
And how do you measure your achievements, not just at the Congressional level but also among the States?
By looking to see whether or not we can build a people’s coalition throughout the entire country. Whether we can win the legislative battles, whether we can reach more Americans through the national news media. Americans go to bed each night thinking that they have to pay taxes to a federal government that does not adequately control our borders, and that immigration is a burden and encumbrance on our infrastructure, our education system and the job market. Managing immigration is one of the federal government’s basic functions. If it’s not managed efficiently, as can be seen in the Republican campaign, immigration is an issue that changes the game.
How do you calculate the cost of immigration? On the map you have on the Internet you say that the cost for California is greater than 20 billion dollars and for Texas it’s almost 9 billion dollars. Where do you get those figures?
O.K. Anyone who observes the immigration policy of the United States is going to notice one thing: that the state governments and the federal government do a poor job when determining costs, and that’s why we don’t receive any information. So all you can do is work with estimates. The big cost of illegal immigration, the direct cost, is public education, for those who are illegal, as well as for those who were born here.
But it’s an important work force. How are you going to get rid of the Hispanic workers?
We’re talking about people who have broken the law, most of whom were brought over by human traffickers. In the end, the problem with the illegal immigration system is that it’s based on exploitation. Traffickers, exploitive employers. Taxpayers are being asked to subsidize the process in order to offer employers cheaper manual labor. This is having devastating effects on the American labor market.
And who’s going to grab those jobs?
There are jobs that are covered by undocumented Hispanics because Americans don’t want them.
Mexico needs its workers. No country should try to prosper by sending its industrious people abroad. Every country should perform its own work. And Americans ought to put their own people to work.
And how do you think all of these people can be deported?
Well, if they [the government] don’t know how many people we’re talking about, we don’t know what will be the administrative cost. But I can assure you that over time it’s going to cost less to carry out a correct human removal (deportation), and with the guarantee of all rights, than to allow people to continue to come in illegally, obtain a green card and bring in their family members.