Experts and Advocates Expose Racist Ties to Congress, the Media
The leading anti-immigrant group and its supporters are descending on Washington DC this week, as part of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR)’s “Week of Action.” The real motive behind their anti-immigrant agenda was exposed yesterday during a telephonic press conference by several experts and advocates for immigration reform.
Please click here to listen to the press conference.
“We list FAIR as a hate group for good reason. John Tanton, the group’s founder, is a racist who has questioned the ‘educability’ of Latinos and shared anti-Semitic materials with FAIR’s board,” said Heidi Beirich of the Southern Poverty Law Center which has designated FAIR as a hate group since 2007. “FAIR has employed members of hate groups and traded in anti-Latino conspiracy theories. The immigration debate should not be poisoned by the hateful views of groups like FAIR,” she concluded.
U.S. Representative Jared Polis (D-CO), a participant in the press conference, stated that “The American people expect their elected representatives to work on enacting a fair and workable solution to our broken immigration system, but groups like the FAIR are spreading fear and lies in the halls of Congress to prevent that from happening. Yet despite their efforts, people of faith, law enforcement, proponents of stronger border security, state and local elected officials, organized labor, the business community and Americans across this country are raising their voices to fix our broken immigration system with real solutions rather than hateful rhetoric. With their help, we will achieve comprehensive immigration reform.”
The long arms of FAIR and its spin offs go well beyond Washington. Lou Dobbs, host of “Lou Dobbs Tonight” on CNN will be participating in FAIR’s events. “Lou Dobbs is the most dangerous host on cable news,” said Eric Burns, President of Media Matters for America. “He benefits enormously from the legitimacy of the CNN brand, which allows him to mainstream anti-immigrant hysteria, promote baseless conspiracy theories, and advance blatant lies about undocumented immigrants. It is laughable that a network billing itself as ‘the most trusted name in news’ would give such a serial misinformer primetime billing, but when it comes to journalistic integrity, CNN seems to have a Lou Dobbs loophole,” he concluded.
In fact, there are some connections between the rise in hate speech in the media and the rise in hate crimes, particularly against Latinos and immigrants. Between 2003 and 2006, hate crimes against Latinos have increased by 40% according to statistics from the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI). A recent report by the SPLC about hate crimes in Long Island, New York reflects some of the clearest examples of these crimes against Latinos and immigrants.
“FAIR’s distortions, dissimulation, and demonization, echoed and promoted by Dobbs and others on cable news and talk radio, have done real damage not only to a much-needed constructive debate on fixing our broken immigration system, but to the image and well-being of nearly 50 million Latinos in this country and the fabric of the nation as a whole,” said Lisa Navarrete of the National Council of La Raza (NCLR).
As the recent outburst at President Obama’s speech in Congress last week by U.S. Representative Joe Wilson (R-SC) demonstrates, immigration continues to be used by Republicans as a tactic to stop debate and progress on some of our country’s most pressing issues.
“Washington has to stop being bullied by a very small but very vocal minority of people that like to scream and yell, but offer no solutions to some of our country’s most pressing problems,” said Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice. “We can fix these problems, including our broken immigration system, by working hard and looking at the facts, not by preying on people’s fears,” he concluded.