Federation for American Immigration Reform

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For Pro-Immigration, see Fair Immigration Reform Movement.

The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) is a non-profit tax exempt organization in the United States that advocates changes in U.S. immigration policy that they believe would result in significant reductions in immigration, both legal and illegal. It reports a membership of more than 250,000 members and supporters,[1] and has been called to testify before the United States Congressional committees on immigration bills.

FAIR is headquartered in Washington, D.C. It was founded on January 2, 1979, with seed money from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation. Its founding chairman was John Tanton, a leader of many anti-immigration and environmentalist groups, including Zero Population Growth and the Sierra Club's population committee.[2]

FAIR's first executive director was environmental lawyer Roger Conner. Other co-founders included University of California, Santa Barbara, history professor emeritus and author Otis L. Graham, Jr., feminist Sharon Barnes, and the late former Gulf Oil president and board chairman Sidney Swensrud.[3][4] Dan Stein has been president of FAIR since 1988.


FAIR seeks a moratorium on net immigration by anyone other than refugees and the spouses and minor children of U.S. citizens, until it can be shown that higher immigration levels are needed.[5]

Although FAIR describes itself as nonpartisan,[6] it is sometimes described by interested parties or detractors as politically conservative or white nationalist.[7][8][9]

FAIR identifies itself as a "group whose membership runs the gamut from liberal to conservative, [whose] grassroots networks help concerned citizens use their voices to speak up for effective, sensible immigration policies that work for America’s best interests".[10] Its Board of Advisors has included individuals such as former Congressman Brian Bilbray (R-CA) and former Governor Richard Lamm (D-CO). The group promotes policies to improve border security and stop illegal immigration, and to reduce legal immigration into the United States to around 300,000 people a year. FAIR's policy studies emphasize the environmental, economic, and social effects of mass immigration. FAIR's President Dan Stein serves on the 61-member board of the Citizens' Debate Commission, a nonpartisan American organization formed in 2004, which was established to sponsor future general election presidential debates.[citation needed]

FAIR is a member of the Coalition for the Future American Worker, which describes itself as "an umbrella organization of professional trade groups, population/environment organizations, and immigration reform groups. CFAW was formed to represent the interests of American workers and students in the formulation of immigration policy."[11]

Under John Tanton's leadership FAIR was criticized for taking over a million dollars between 1983 and 1994 from the Pioneer Fund, an organization dedicated to "improving the character of the American people" by promoting the practice of eugenics, or selective breeding.[12][13] Tanton's activities are documented in 17 file boxes of archives he donated to the Bentley Historical Library at the University of Michigan.[14]

Other FAIR organization records are stored at the Special Collections Research Center at the George Washington University.[15]


FAIR advocates "7 Principles of True Comprehensive Immigration Reform":

1. End Illegal Immigration
2. No Amnesty or Mass Guest-Worker Program
3. Protect Wages and Standards of Living
4. Major Upgrade in Interior Enforcement, Led by Strong Employers Penalties
5. Stop Special Interest Asylum Abuse
6. An Immigration Time Out
7. Equal Under the Law

The FAIR website contains a detailed explanation of each principle and why FAIR considers each one important.[16]

Positions on the issues[edit]

FAIR claims to enhance national security by enabling laws and technologies which would deny immigrants U.S. citizenship and workers' rights for foreigners. The group also seeks to "influence public policy through lobbying" and by appearing in court.[17]

Influence and work[edit]

According to Andrew Wroe, a lecturer in American Politics and author of The Republican Party and Immigration Politics,[18] FAIR is viewed by some as an extremist group.[19] Georgie Anne Geyer, author of Americans No More: The Death of Citizenship, describes FAIR as a "highly respected group".[20]

The Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act, Senate Bill 1070, Arizona's newest and most controversial immigration law, was written with the help of Kris Kobach, a professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City Law School, and Kansas Secretary of State.[21] Kris Kobach is the Immigration Reform Law Institute’s national expert on constitutional law. This Institute is the legal arm of the Federation for American Immigration Reform.[22]

Critics of the legislation said it would encourage racial profiling, while supporters said the law prohibits the use of race as the sole basis for investigating immigration status. The law was modified by Arizona House Bill 2162 within a week of its signing with the goal of addressing some of these concerns. There were protests in opposition to the law in over 70 U.S. cities, including boycotts and calls for boycotts of Arizona. Polling had found the law to have majority support in Arizona and nationwide. Passage of the measure has prompted other states to consider adopting similar legislation.

The Act was signed into law by Governor Jan Brewer on April 23, 2010.[23] It was scheduled to go into effect on July 29, 2010, ninety days after the end of the legislative session.[24] Legal challenges over its constitutionality and compliance with civil rights law were filed, including one by the United States Department of Justice that also asked for an injunction against enforcement of the law. The day before the law was to take effect, a federal judge issued a preliminary injunction that blocked the law's most controversial provisions.

On December 12, 2011, the United States Supreme Court granted certiorari to hear the case. The court heard oral arguments for this case on April 25, 2012. Justice Elena Kagan recused herself from the case, presumably because while she was the United States Solicitor General, she defended the federal government's position in this case under the Obama administration.[25]

In June 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on the case Arizona v. United States, upholding the provision requiring immigration status checks during law enforcement stops but striking down three other provisions as violations of the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution. The majority opinion was written by Justice Kennedy and was joined by Chief Justice Roberts, Justice Ginsburg, Justice Breyer, and Justice Sotomayor. Justices Scalia, Thomas, and Alito each concurred in part and dissented in part in separate opinions joined by no other justice. Justice Kennedy's majority opinion held that Sections 3, 5(C), and 6 were preempted by federal law.[26][27][28] The three provisions struck down: required legal immigrants to carry registration documents at all times; allowed state police to arrest any individual for suspicion of being an illegal immigrant; and made it a crime for an illegal immigrant to search for a job (or to hold one) in the state.[29][30][31]

Other Arizona interaction includes Proposition 200 in 2004 which was spearheaded by the group “Protect Arizona Now” which worked with the Federation for American Immigration Reform. It is similar to California’s Proposition 187 in which illegal aliens are restricted from public benefits and voting because they are most likely unable to provide the required proof of citizenship. It also made the crime of a public official not reporting illegal status a class 2 misdemeanor.[32]

Other groups created by FAIR[edit]

FAIR established the FAIR Congressional Task Force (FCTF) as a 501(c)(4) organization who believe that promoting public welfare requires drastic restrictions on legal immigration.[33] FAIR established the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI) which claims that the rights, privileges, and property of U.S. citizens are threatened by immigration.[34] The Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) was spun off from FAIR in 1985.[6]


In December 2007, FAIR was designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). The SPLC accused leaders of FAIR of meeting with leaders of the Belgian Nationalist group Vlaams Belang which had been condemned by the Belgian Court of Cassation for violations of the law against racism.[35] FAIR has responded to this charge by stating there is no factual basis for the accusation; that FAIR has compiled a long record of mainstream credibility and respect on immigration issues and has always opposed discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, or religion; and that the accusation is an "act of desperation, resulting from the SPLC's failure to convince the American people of their viewpoint."[36][37]

FAIR president Dan Stein said of the SPLC, "They've decided to engage in unsubstantiated, invidious name-calling, smearing millions of people in this movement who simply want to see the law enforced and, frankly, lower levels of immigration".[38]

FAIR has been criticized for accepting contributions from the Pioneer Fund. Between 1982 and 1994, FAIR received $1.2 million from the foundation.[39] The Pioneer Fund focuses on projects it perceives will not be easily funded because of controversial, racial, or pro-eugenics subject matter.[13] The Pioneer Fund was described by the Sunday Telegraph as a "neo-Nazi organization closely integrated with the far right in American politics" in 1989.[40]

FAIR has responded to this criticism by asserting that the Fund clearly states that it supports equal opportunity for all Americans, regardless of race, religion, national origin, or ethnicity; that other major institutions, including universities and medical facilities in the United States and other countries, have also accepted grants from the Fund;[41] and that the Fund's contributions to FAIR were used only for the general operation of the organization.[36]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Federation for American Immigration Reform: About FAIR, fairus.org; accessed August 28, 2015.
  2. ^ n.n. (2002). "John Tanton is the Mastermind Behind the Organized Anti-Immigration Movement". Intelligence Report. Southern Poverty Law Center. 2002 (106). Retrieved March 5, 2016. 
  3. ^ Sidney Swensrud, 95, hands on executive who expanded Gulf Oil, New York Times, June 1, 1996; retrieved March 5, 2016.
  4. ^ Connor, Roger (March 2, 1980). "U.S.A. Must Stop the Illegal Tide". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. p. 2F. 
  5. ^ Federation for American Immigration Reform: "Why America Needs an Immigration Time-Out", fairus.org; accessed July 2, 2015.
  6. ^ a b DeParle, J. (April 17, 2011). "The Anti-Immigration Crusader]". New York Times. 
  7. ^ Beau Hodai, "Selling the anti-immigration story", Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, June 1, 2011; retrieved March 5, 2016.
  8. ^ Jordan, M. (2004-11-04). "The Bush Victory Limits Arizona's Illegal Immigrants' Access to Benefits". Wall Street Journal. p. A4. 
  9. ^ Feldmann, L. (1992-01-30). "Salvadoran Immigrants Feel Tense - Uncertainty About Future Status". The Christian Science Monitor. Boston, MA. Retrieved July 2, 2015. 
  10. ^ FAIR: : About FAIR, fairus.org; accessed July 2, 2015.
  11. ^ What is the Coalition for the Future American Worker, americanworker.org; accessed July 2, 2015.
  12. ^ Selling the anti-immigration story, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, Beau Hodai, June 1, 2011; retrieved March 5, 2016.
  13. ^ a b Potok, Mark (2004). "Racist Skinheads, Klan Groups Up in 2002". Intelligence Report. Southern Poverty Law Center. 2004 (113): 59–63. 
  14. ^ Beirich, Heidi (2008). "The Tanton Files". Intelligence Report. Southern Poverty Law Center. 2008 (132). 
  15. ^ Preliminary Guide to the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) Records, 1867-2006, Special Collections Research Center, Estelle and Melvin Gelman Library, George Washington University.
  16. ^ Federation for American Immigration Reform: 7 Principles of True Comprehensive Immigration Reform
  17. ^ About FAIR, fairus.org; accessed August 28, 2015.
  18. ^ "Andrew Wroe". Macmillan. Retrieved April 14, 2010. 
  19. ^ Wroe, Andrew (2008). The Republican party and immigration politics. Macmillan. ISBN 978-0230-60053-9. 
  20. ^ Geyer, Georgie Anne (August 10, 2009). "WE SHOULD BE MORE CONCERNED ABOUT ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION". uexpress.com. Retrieved October 19, 2009. 
  21. ^ Schwartz, J.; Archibold, R.C. (2010-04-27). "A Law Facing a Tough Road Through the Courts". New York Times. 
  22. ^ Beirich, H. (2010-03-20). "Guest Commentary: Don't poison immigration debate". Gadsden Times. 
  23. ^ Toughest Immigration Law Is Signed in Arizona, The New York Times, Archibold, Randal C., April 24, 2010. Retrieved 9 March 2016.
  24. ^ General Effective Dates, Arizona State Legislature. Retrieved 9 March 2016.
  25. ^ Liptak, Adam; Cushman Jr., Adam H. (June 25, 2012). "Blocking Parts of Arizona Law, Justices Allow Its Centerpiece". The New York Times. Retrieved March 9, 2016. 
  26. ^ Arizona v. United States, No. 11-182
  27. ^ Andrew Cohen "Razing Arizona: Supreme Court Sides With Feds on Immigration", The Atlantic, June 25, 2012; retrieved March 9, 2016.
  28. ^ David G. Savage, "Supreme Court strikes down key parts of Arizona immigration law", Los Angeles Times, June 25, 2012; retrieved March 9, 2016.
  29. ^ Robert Barnes,Supreme Court Rejects Much of Arizona Immigration Law, Washington Post, June 25, 2012; retrieved March 9, 2016.
  30. ^ Tom Cohen and Bill Mears,Supreme Court mostly rejects Arizona immigration law; gov says 'heart' remains, CNN, June 26, 2012; retrieved March 9, 2016.
  31. ^ Supreme Court decision on Arizona's immigration law, cnn.com, June 26, 2012; retrieved March 9, 2016.
  32. ^ Wilson, T.D. (2008). "Research Note: Issues of Production vs. Reproduction/Maintenance Revisited: Towards an Understanding of Arizona's Immigration Policies". Anthropological Quarterly. 81 (3): 713–18. doi:10.1353/anq.0.0026. Retrieved March 5, 2016. 
  33. ^ FAIR Congressional Task Force, fairtaskforce.com; accessed August 28, 2015.
  34. ^ Immigration Reform Law Institute, irli.org; accessed August 28, 2015.
  35. ^ FAIR: Crossing the Rubicon of Hate Hatewatch, Southern Poverty Law Center, December 11, 2007
  36. ^ a b "FAIR: Response to the Southern Poverty Law Center". Federation for American Immigration Reform. Archived from the original on 2012-02-17. Retrieved July 2, 2015. 
  37. ^ Beware the Politicized "Hate Group" Designations by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), splcreport.com; accessed July 2, 2015.
  38. ^ Hsu, S.S. (2009-09-15). "Immigration, Health Debates Cross Paths". The Washington Post. 
  39. ^ "The New Nativism" Leonard Zeskind, November 10, 2005, The American Prospect
  40. ^ "Fascism Resurgent", fair.org; accessed March 5, 2016.
  41. ^ ISAR, ferris.edu; accessed July 2, 2015.

External links[edit]