Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR)

Founded by white nationalist John Tanton in 1979, FAIR is the anti-immigrant movement’s flagship organization, and despite a four-decade-long history of anti-immigrant animus, the group is more influential than ever. FAIR provides the policy framework for the Trump Administration’s draconian immigration policies such as family separation and attacks on DACA and TPS. Many of FAIR’s former staffers have moved into key positions in government agencies such as DHS—where they wield considerable influence and help to execute these harmful measures. 

  • Tanton founded FAIR in 1979 in Washington, D.C. He was on FAIR’s board and advisory board for a number of years before his death in 2019. 
  • FAIR received over $1 million from the Pioneer Fund, an organization which embraced eugenics.
  • The Tanton founded group advocates for harsh anti-immigrant policies across the country such as attrition through enforcement, repealing DACA, dismantling TPS, radical cuts to overall legal immigration numbers, and ending birthright citizenship.
  • FAIR’s work advances legislation that maligns communities of color, both immigrant and native-born. Its self-described mission is to “reduce overall immigration… [including] legal immigration levels from well over one million presently to 300,000 a year… to manage growth” and “address environmental concerns.” For years, FAIR called for a moratorium on all immigration before changing its stance. 
  • FAIR has spent decades advocating for policies designed to shrink the overall immigrant and refugee population in the U.S. FAIR’s unprecedented power and influence in the Trump Administration has led to harsh immigration policies such as the rescission of DACA, ending TPS for over 300,000 individuals, family separation at the border, the Muslim ban, refugee reductions, legal immigration cuts, a Public Charge rule, and increased arrests and deportations of undocumented and documented immigrants. In some cases these deportations have resulted in immigrants returning to countries where they are persecuted and at risk of slavery. FAIR staffers have also taken up positions within DHS.
  • As reported by The New York Times, FAIR wrote in its 2018 federal tax filing that the election of President Donald Trump presented “a unique opportunity” to enact policies such as “building the wall, ending chain migration, rolling back dangerous sanctuary policies,” and “eliminating the visa lottery.”
  • Stein, whose former colleagues have taken up positions within agencies responsible for implementing immigration policy such as USCIS, told the Pittsburgh Post Gazette in June 2019: “you can assume we have contacts throughout the (Trump) administration.”
    • While commenting on FAIR’s new found influence, Stein stated that he was surprised the Trump Administration “haven’t hired more people out of the stable of our organization.”
  • In a New York Times profile on Cordelia Scaife May, FAIR’s President Dan Stein praised her, saying, “We occupied the space before anybody, and the people who helped found the organization and fund the organization, including Mrs. May, were people of enormous foresight and wisdom…They would be gratified over the fact that we’ve seen these ideas championed at the highest level.” May, one of the primary funders of the anti-immigrant movement in the U.S., believed the country was “being invaded on all fronts,” by immigrants who “breed like hamsters.”
  • While some Tanton-founded groups have tried to minimize his role in creating their organizations and driving their policy work, FAIR’s Dan Stein lauded Tanton in a press release in July 2019, after Tanton’s passing: “I have stated that John was a Renaissance man, and that was true.” 
  • For years, FAIR has cultivated relationships with elected officials at both the state and local levels in order to advance anti-immigrant legislation and deter immigration reform efforts. Elected officials who have attended events or worked with FAIR in some fashion include Jan Brewer, Daryl Metcalife, Russell Pearce, Joe Arpaio, Joe Gruters, Thomas Hodgson, Steve King, Tom Cotton, Louie Gohmert, Marsha Blackburn, Paul Gosar, Mo Brooks, Lou Barletta, and Andy Biggs.
  • FAIR also built a strong network of local anti-immigrant groups around the country that it coordinates with on a regular basis in order to help organize on-the-ground opposition to progressive immigration legislation. FAIR has worked successfully with local activists to run or support campaigns pushing attrition through enforcement legislation. FAIR has ties to a number of state-based anti-immigrant groups such as Oregonians for Immigration Reform, We the People Rising, the Dustin Inman Society and Floridians for Immigration Enforcement. Leadership from many of these groups, and more nationally-focused groups such as the Remembrance Project, have also attended FAIR’s flagship Hold Their Feet to the Fire event alongside state and federal elected officials.  
  • Many FAIR staff are longtime anti-immigrant leaders like Dan Stein, but the organization has also developed a number of staff who are now in the Trump Administration or other anti-immigrant groups such as Mark Krikorian, Julie Kirchner, Robert Law, Elizabeth Jacobs, Dale Wilcox, and John Zadrozny. 

Anti-immigrant Views

  • FAIR President Dan Stein, who in 2017 told The New York Times that Americans would “be perfectly fine if we didn’t have another immigrant for 50 years,” shares Tanton’s extreme views on immigration:
    • Stein’s statements on immigrants have often echoed sentiments expressed by Tanton; he once posed the idea of prioritizing reproduction based on IQ score: “Should we be subsidizing people with low IQs to have as many children as possible, and not subsidizing those with high ones?”
    • In a statement marking the 50th anniversary of the Immigration Act of 1965, Stein lamented the increase in the U.S.’s immigrant population: “Mass immigration is radically transforming our nation without any identifiable public interest that is being served…No one is questioning the potentially catastrophic consequences.”
    • Stein claimed that late Senator Ted Kennedy’s immigration policies were “a great way to retaliate against Anglo-Saxon dominance and hubris, and the immigration laws from the 1920s were just this symbol of that, and it’s a form of revengism, or revenge.”
    • In an op-ed for the Daily Caller in March 2016, Stein advocated for attrition through enforcement, which has the same goals as mass deportation, saying, “we should deport illegal aliens when we catch them… Enforcing laws isn’t cheap, but it is the cost of not enforcing our immigration laws that is prohibitively expensive. And, no, our economy would not collapse.”
    • On CNN, Stein praised President Trump’s executive orders on immigration, saying that the recent deportations were an effort to “reclaim our schools, our hospitals, and our communities…”
    • On then-candidate Donald Trump’s proposal to ban Muslims from entering the United States, Stein said, “as a practical matter …. unless somebody’s got a better idea, sounds like it makes pretty good sense to us.”
    • Stein supports ending birthright citizenship: “[the current] erroneous interpretation of the 14th Amendment is defeating the operation of U.S. immigration controls.”
  • FAIR founder John Tanton and FAIR board members Sally Epstein and Donald Collins were longtime advocates of coercive sterilization, specifically supporting the Quinacrine sterilization method. FAIR donated $5,000 in 1993 to the Institute for Development Training (IDT). Two years after the donation, Tanton wrote to Dan Stein and the FAIR board that the Institute for Development Training’s “most recent project is the production of materials on the new Quinacrine sterilization method.” Quinacrine is a drug that has been used as an off-label form of female sterilization. The Quinacrine sterilization method is a dangerous and painful procedure, and evidence indicates that it has been disproportionately and coercively performed on low-income women of color in developing countries.
  • In 2017, FAIR’s executive director Bob Dane refused to disavow Tanton’s infamous quote on maintaining a “European-American majority.” Dane said, “For many, the question of whether a country loses its majority status is a fair question. France, for example, is “probably wondering whether it is still going to be a French country.”

Anti-immigrant Activity

  • FAIR President Dan Stein has publicly supported the Trump Administration’s “zero tolerance” policy and downplayed the severity of family separations. “I think the administration is spot-on. FAIR supports the policy.” Additionally, Stein’s group wrote multiple blog posts supporting the measure. 
  • In the organization’s Immigration Priorities for the 2017 Presidential Transition, the group called upon the incoming Trump Administration to “immediately revoke the orders authorizing the DACA, DACA+ and DAPA.” The group repeatedly lashed out at President Trump for having kept DACA in place for awhile, calling it “an illegal executive overreach.” After the Trump Administration rescinded DACA, FAIR spent close to a million dollars torpedoing bipartisan legislation in the U.S. Senate through lobbying efforts, paid media, and misleading communications targeting family-based immigration. 
  • In addition to spending millions of dollars on radio and television ads, from 2001-2018 FAIR spent over $3.6M in lobbying dollars, and from May 2018 to August 2019 the group spent more than $850,000 on Facebook ads attacking immigrants.
  • Following the rescission of DACA, FAIR drove calls to the offices of House Republicans willing to find a permanent solution for undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. at a young age.
  • FAIR President Dan Stein also serves on the board of IRLI, which helped initiate and draft Crane v. Napolitano, the unsuccessful legal challenge that pitted several ICE agents against DACA and set the stage for United States v. Texas. Crane also spoke at a press event with sheriffs FAIR helped to organize. 
  • In line with its mission to “reduce overall immigration,” FAIR called on the Trump Administration to cut annual immigration levels by slashing programs under the executive branch’s control “such as: Temporary Protected Status, also know as TPS, the refugee and asylum programs, humanitarian parole and Transit Without Visa.” 
  • FAIR’s website page on Temporary Protected Status (TPS) calls for the program to be scrapped altogether: “TPS is unnecessary and should be abolished,” and in a major policy report, FAIR floated the idea of eliminating certain immigration programs altogether, including TPS. In the same report, the organization proposed that DHS make undocumented immigrants ineligible for TPS and called on the agency’s Secretary torevoke TPS for any country that has received more than two renewals.”
  • In a policy paper, FAIR called for all asylum seekers to be detained for the entirety of their immigration proceedings. Because the process of applying for asylum can take months or even years, this could lead to individuals being detained indefinitely. 
  • Long before the Trump Administration announced New Credible Fear Standards for asylum seekers and refugees, FAIR proposed providing “New Definitions” for persecution.
  • In addition to attacking immigration at the federal level, FAIR advises state elected and regional advocacy groups and has supported efforts to enact harsh attrition through enforcement measures in state legislatures across the country, including Arizona, Texas, Florida, Oregon, among others.
network-graph Created with Sketch. John Tanton Sidney A. Swensrud Foundation Armstrong Foundation Foundation for the Carolinas The Weeden Foundation Scaife Family (Colcom Foundation ) Ted Cruz Steve King Lou Barletta Paul Gosar Marsha Blackburn Louie Gohmert Mo Brooks CIS FAIR IRLI NumbersUSA Dan Stein Mark Krikorian Roy Beck Kris Kobach Jessica Vaughan Sessions Jeff Bannon Steve Miller Stephen Julie Kirchner Feere Jon Ken Paxton Abbott Greg Jan Brewer Steven Camarota Wilcox Dale Rosemary Jenks Miano John Michael Hethmon Breitbart Fox News National Review FAIR CIS NumbersUSA IRLI Dan Stein Mark Krikorian Roy Beck Sidney A. Swensrud Foundation Armstrong Foundation The Weeden Foundation Foundation for the Carolinas Scaife Family (Colcom Foundation) John Tanton FAIR CIS IRLI NumbersUSA John Tanton CIS FAIR IRLI NumbersUSA John Tanton CIS FAIR IRLI NumbersUSA John Tanton CIS FAIR NumbersUSA John Tanton CIS Jeff Sessions Stephen Miller Julie Kirchner Ken Paxton Greg Abbott Jan Brewer Dale Wilcox Michael Hethmon Steve King Fox News Lou Barletta Mo Brooks Paul Gosar Marsha Blackburn Louie Gohmert Kris Kobach Jessica Vaughan Dan Stein Mark Krikorian Roy Beck Sidney A. Swensrud Foundation The Weeden Foundation Foundation for the Carolinas John Tanton Scaife Family (Colcom Foundation) Breitbart Steve Bannon Jon Feere Steven Camarota Rosemary Jenks John Miano Breitbart Armstrong Foundation Jeff Sessions Stephen Miller Steve King Fox News Lou Barletta Mo Brooks Paul Gosar Marsha Blackburn Louie Gohmert Jessica Vaughan Dan Stein Mark Krikorian Roy Beck Sidney A. Swensrud Foundation The Weeden Foundation Foundation for the Carolinas John Tanton National Review Scaife Family (Colcom Foundation) Armstrong Foundation Jeff Sessions Stephen Miller Steve King Lou Barletta Mo Brooks Paul Gosar Marsha Blackburn Louie Gohmert Dan Stein Mark Krikorian Roy Beck The Weeden Foundation Foundation for the Carolinas John Tanton Rosemary Jenks Scaife Family (Colcom Foundation) Julie Kirchner Ken Paxton Greg Abbott Jan Brewer Dale Wilcox Michael Hethmon Kris Kobach John Miano Sidney A. Swensrud Foundation Lou Barletta Dan Stein Mark Krikorian Roy Beck The Weeden Foundation John Tanton Scaife Family (Colcom Foundation) Jan Brewer FAIR NumbersUSA Jeff Sessions IRLI Julie Kirchner John Tanton CIS FAIR NumbersUSA Jeff Sessions IRLI John Tanton CIS FAIR NumbersUSA Jeff Sessions IRLI CIS John Tanton FAIR IRLI Jeff Sessions Lou Barletta Steve King FAIR CIS Jeff Sessions Lou Barletta Dan Stein IRLI FAIR CIS IRLI FAIR NumbersUSA CIS IRLI CIS FAIR IRLI Ted Cruz National Review Mo Brooks Paul Gosar Marsha Blackburn Lou Barletta Mark Krikorian Roy Beck Steve King Dan Stein NumbersUSA FAIR CIS Jessica Vaughan Kris Kobach Breitbart CIS NumbersUSA FAIR CIS Dan Stein IRLI FAIR CIS IRLI FAIR IRLI FAIR Jeff Sessions Jessica Vaughan NumbersUSA FAIR CIS IRLI Jeff Sessions NumbersUSA FAIR CIS Kris Kobach Jessica Vaughan Jeff Sessions NumbersUSA FAIR CIS Jeff Sessions NumbersUSA FAIR CIS Jeff Sessions NumbersUSA FAIR CIS NumbersUSA FAIR CIS Jeff Sessions CIS Steve Bannon FAIR FAIR CIS Jeff Sessions CIS STATE ELECTEDS THE ARCHITECT THE FUNDERS THE MAIN ORGS TRUMP ADMIN LOBBYING, LITIGATION & POLICY LEADERSHIP CONGRESS MEDIA MEGAPHONE
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