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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.