AMERICA'S VOICE RESEARCH ON IMMIGRATION REFORM

Report: Front Groups for the Anti-Immigrant Lobby

Published: 03/01/2011

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Major anti-immigrant organizations such as the Center for Immigration Studies, NumbersUSA and the Federation for American Immigration Reform are closely aligned with the Republican Members of Congress who are now in charge of immigration policy for the U.S. House of Representatives.  In a series of hearings, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Lamar Smith, Immigration Subcommittee Chair Elton Gallegly, and Immigration Subcommittee Vice-Chair Steve King are continuing their long history of blaming immigrants for issues from unemployment to pollution.  To prove their case, they are calling key witnesses from within the anti-immigrant movement, disguising them as experts on the impact of immigration on U.S. workers.   

As part of this effort to rebrand “mass deportation” in more popular terms, the anti-immigrant lobby has created a series of front groups, including Progressives for Immigration Reform (PFIR). These groups pretend to speak for the “silent majority” of workers, African Americans, Vietnamese Americans, or environmentalists – to name only a few examples – who oppose immigration reform and support a mass deportation agenda instead.  But a closer look how these groups are organized and funded shows that they are entirely dependent on the anti-immigrant lobby, and represent nothing but the desire of its leaders and allies in Congress to make their mass deportation policies seem less extreme than they really are. [1]

The Coalition for the Future American Worker: The Pro-Worker Front Group without Any Employees

The Coalition for the Future American Worker (CFAW) is the “pro-worker” face of the hard-line anti-immigrant lobby.  But like FAIR’s champions in Congress, who cast themselves as having the interests of American workers at the heart of their anti-immigrant agenda, the Coalition for the Future American Worker is not what it claims to be.

CFAW has no staff, no office and does not pay its own bills – it is simply a project of hard-line anti-immigrant groups, many of which have disturbing histories and ties.  Its website is registered to FAIR staff [2] and Dan Stein, president of FAIR, Roy Beck of Numbers USA and Brantley Davis, partner in FAIR’s public relations firm, Davis & co. have served as spokespeople for CFAW.

No international unions are associated with the Coalition for the Future American Worker in any way.  Only one local union, the Communications Workers of America Local 4250 is listed as a member of the coalition.

Unlike the grassroots, labor oriented persona that it seeks to project, most CFAW member organizations [3] are part of the anti-immigrant network created by noted white nationalist John Tanton. [4] The network includes organizations that have been designated as hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center and which share ties with extremist organizations.  These organizations have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars for advertising under the “Coalition for the Future American Worker” name, with the goal of preventing action on comprehensive immigration reform.  Member organizations of CFAW include:

  • Federation for American Immigration Reform – founded by John Tanton, who currently sits on the FAIR board of directors.  FAIR has been designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center for its close ties to white nationalist individuals and organizations. [5] FAIR has employed staff of white nationalist organizations and has received over $1.2 million from the Pioneer Fund, a foundation which promotes eugenics. [6]
  • American Immigration Control Foundation – AICF has also been designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center [7] and has received funding from John Tanton and the Pioneer Fund.   AICF president John Vinson is an advisor to the Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC), the reconstituted segregationist White Citizens’ Councils of the 1950s.  According to CCC, a part of its mission is to “oppose all efforts to mix the races of mankind.” [8] Vinson is a frequent author for the Citizen Informer, a regular publication of the Council. [9]
  • Numbers USA, Education & Research Foundation – NumbersUSA was founded and has been funded by John Tanton.   It is the Internet activism arm of the anti-immigrant movement, which directs its dedicated online membership to send faxes and make calls to Congress in opposition to comprehensive immigration reform with a wide variety of rationales.[10] John Tanton called Roy Beck, the director of NumbersUSA his “heir apparent” and worked at Tanton’s controversial publication, the Social Contract Press, which was also designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.   Beck has been the featured speaker at a conference of the Council of Concerned Citizens. [11]
  • Californians for Population Stabilization (CAPS) – Diana Hull, president of CAPS serves on the FAIR board of advisors and is a regular author for the John Tanton’s Social Contract Press.  CAPS has been funded by Tanton, shared key staff with FAIR, and shared board members [12] with the Center for Immigration Studies, the Tanton-founded “think tank” of the anti-immigrant lobby.  CAPS’ leaders have also spoken at events hosted by the Council of Concerned Citizens, and the organization is reported to have spent millions of dollars on political advertisements charging that immigrants are the cause of global warming and pollution. [13]
  • American Council on Immigration Reform – the leader of the Council is Michael Cutler, a fellow at the Center for Immigration Studies, a group founded by John Tanton. [14]  The Council is the face of the anti-immigrant lobby’s “national security” message.
  • American Jobs Coalition –was created by Glenn Jackson, a member of the FAIR national board of advisors, [15] to promote the anti-immigrant lobby’s agenda with a “pro-jobs” message.
  • American Engineering Association – has been supported by John Tanton’s funding organization, U.S. Inc.  Its former president and head of government relations are authors for Tanton’s Social Contract Press. [16]

In 2004 and other years, CFAW spent an untold amount on advocacy advertising on television, directed at pro-labor candidates for office.   One of their many ad campaigns, designed to damage the candidacy of then Congressman Martin Frost (D-TX), who received a lifetime grade of A from the AFL-CIO, was designed to benefit Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX), who has a lifetime grade of F from the AFL-CIO.  That same year, CFAW also sponsored ads to damage the candidacy of labor-supported candidates in Kansas and Iowa.  Quickly after the ads began to run, Mark Smith, President of the Iowa Federation of Labor called them “just racist stuff with no factual basis.”  The NBC affiliate in Des Moines, IA pulled the ads from broadcast and its general manager labeled them “borderline racist.” [17]

During the controversy, NumbersUSA director Roy Beck, then spokesman for CFAW said, “We don’t represent any union members in Iowa, but we do represent the interest of labor.” [18] As described below, Roy Beck and his colleagues in the anti-immigrant lobby have made a pattern of “representing” constituencies of which they are not a part.

A History of Co-Opting Mainstream Priorities to Promote a Hard-Line Agenda

The economy is just the latest “flavor of the month” excuse that members of the anti-immigrant lobby are using to promote their impractical agenda of mass deportation.  These groups and their allied Members have embraced a variety of other important causes in their attempt to sell an extreme agenda to the mainstream.   

Progressives.   Progressives for Immigration Reform (PFIR) [19] was created in January 2009 by the anti-immigrant lobby to present a “progressive” face on the anti-immigrant lobby’s agenda.  Roy Beck of Numbers USA helped to recruit its new director, Leah Durant, a former attorney for FAIR and its legal arm, the Immigration Reform Law Institute. Curiously, Durant’s tenure at FAIR is missing from her biography on the PFIR website.  The vice president of PFIR is a board member for FAIR and the Center for Immigration Studies.  Its blogger, Philip Cafaro, is an author for Mark Krikorian’s Center for Immigration Studies. [20]

Environmental movement.  Similar to the model used to create the Coalition for the Future American Worker, FAIR other anti-immigrant organizations have created front groups such as “America’s Leadership Team for Long Range Population-Immigration-Resource Planning” and others to promote their hard-line anti-immigrant agenda.  Leaders of the anti-immigrant movement even went so far as making a failed attempt to take over the Sierra Club board of directors in 2004 [21] to force the club to adopt an anti-immigration platform.  And in 2005, a ballot question to strike the Sierra Club’s longstanding policy [22] of not engaging on immigration was defeated by Sierra Club members 84 – 16 percent. [23] These failed takeover attempts are the vision of John Tanton himself who wrote in 1986, “The Sierra Club may not want to touch the immigration issue, but the immigration issue is going to touch the Sierra Club!” [24]

Latinos.  FAIR’s Media Director, Ira Mehlman, is the contact person for FAIR’s “Latino” front group, “You Don’t Speak for Me. [25] The group’s handful of spokespeople have appeared on news programs as representative of a grassroots movement of Latinos, despite being wholly a project of FAIR, and despite public opinion research from a variety of sources that shows comprehensive immigration reform to be an important issue to Latino voters.

African-Americans.  Choose Black America [26] was created by FAIR to advocate their anti-immigrant agenda with African American spokespeople and FAIR’s press secretary, , Bob Dane, served as the press contact for CBA. [27] Several of the African American spokespeople at their opening press conference acknowledged that they had never spoken to one another – one even immediately distanced himself from the group upon learning more about them. [28]  While the CBA website, and therefore the organization, has been shut down, one of its spokespeople, Frank Morris, a board member for the Tanton founded Center for Immigration Studies later became a spokesperson for CFAW.

Vietnamese.  Vietnamese for Fair Immigration (VIR) [29] was backed financially by FAIR and created by Tim Brummer under the Vietnamese pseudonym he created, “Tim Binh.”  VIR sponsored high-priced billboard ads featuring Latinos saying “no racist amnesty,” which Brummer claims were paid for by the VIR membership.  Brummer, aka Binh, is also a member of the Tanton-funded Californians for Population Stabilization.  When it was revealed that “Binh” was actually Brummer, he said: “I speak Vietnamese, I eat Vietnamese food, I live with Vietnamese, in my mind, I’m half Vietnamese.” [30]

–excerpted from the America’s Voice report “The Anti-Worker Truth About the Republican House Judiciary Committee,” January 2011 [31]

End Notes


[1] Attrition through Enforcement’ is Just another Name for Mass-Deportation, America’s Voice Education Fund, February, 2011.

[2] Coalition for the Future American Worker

[3] Ibid.

[4] John Tanton’s Network, Southern Poverty Law Center

[5] Southern Poverty Law Center

[6] The Nativist Lobby, Southern Poverty Law Center

[7] Southern Poverty Law Center

[8] Statement of Principles, Council of Conservative Citizens

[9] Anti-Immigrant Groups, Southern Poverty Law Center

[10] Southern Poverty Law Center

[11] Southern Poverty Law Center

[12] Center for Immigration Studies

[13] The Spot – A Political Ad Blog. TNSMI/CMAG, 10/20/2009.

[14] Center for Immigration Studies

[15] FAIR

[16] Center for New Community

[17] FactCheck.org

[18] Des Moines Register

[19] What is “Progressive” About Progressives for Immigration Reform, Center for New Community.

[20] Center for Immigration Studies

[21] A ‘hostile’ bid at the Sierra Club, Christian Science Monitor, 2/20/2004

[22] Sierra Club policy platform

[23] Vote results for Sierra Club 2005 elections

[24] Environmental Organizations Targeted by Anti-Immigrant Bigots, Center for New Community

[25] www.DontSpeakForMe.org

[26] Immigration group may not be what they seem, San Diego IndyMedia, 12/16/2006.

[27] Archived page of Choose Black America website

[28] EPluribus Media, Anti – Immigration Groups and the Masks of False Diversity

[29] Anti – Immigration Groups and the Masks of False Diversity, E Pluribus Media, 2/5/2007.

[30] Vietnamese Anti-Immigrant Group Really Isn’t, Southern Poverty Law Center

[31] The Anti-Worker Truth about the Republican House Judiciary Committee, America’s Voice Education Fund, January, 2011.

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