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After a huge push to drive up turnout, and after event organizers promised to storm Congress with anti-immigration citizen lobbyists this week, a mere fifty (yes, 50) people showed up for the Federation for American Immigration Reform’s (FAIR) annual “Hold their Feet to the Fire” event in Washington, DC this week.
Ironically, a prayer vigil held by faith leaders in support of immigration reform – organized at the last minute – turned out twice that number of people on Monday to pray for a return to moral debate on immigration. The pro-reform vigil was highlighted on the front page of the Washington Post Tuesday (picture at right):
“We must clearly say shame, shame, shame on those who depend on our immigrant brothers and sisters, use them and often abuse them, and then turn against them with their racism and hatred,” said Bishop Minerva Carcaño, who helped put together the vigil.
As a show of political force, FAIR’s failure to turn out real people this week is a good reminder about the anti-immigrant lobby. It has a long history of generating lots of noise (phonecalls, faxes, and more) and scaring Congress into making terrible policy decisions, while failing to deliver on the angry threats with actual votes — or actual people at events, in this case. In 20 of 22 competitive elections in the 2008 cycle where immigration was a top issue, the hard-line anti-immigrant candidate lost to a candidate with a more expansive view of immigration reform.
FAIR, a designated hate group, is asking members of Congress to support an immigration agenda that has more to do with xenophobia and intolerance than real solutions to our dysfunctional immigration system.
As Washington Post reporter, Spencer S. Hsu, reported Monday, America’s Voice helped launch an ad early this week to let Congress know who was coming to town:
This all came about as America’s Voice Education Fund, Campaign for Community Change, the Center for New Community, and the Service Employees International Union paid for an advertisement to run in Roll Call, asking that members of Congress not meet with the anti-immigrant group, stating that “extremist groups, like FAIR, shouldn’t be allowed to write immigration policy.”
Revealing of the group’s anti-immigrant views, the ad begins with a quote from FAIR’s founder, John Tanton:
“As Whites see their power and control over their lives declining, will they simply go quietly into the night? Or will there be an explosion?”
The advertisement goes on to feature Rep. Brian Bilbray (R-CA), Rep. Steve King (R-IA), Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL), who have all had a history of collaboration with FAIR and other anti-immigrant groups. Also featured on the advertisement is – surprise, surprise – fear-mongering news anchor Lou Dobbs, who is causing CNN a lot of pain this week for broadcasting his radio show live from FAIR’s festivities.
Also, check out media coverage of the hate rally so far: