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Shofar FTP Archive File: orgs/american/federation-for-american-immigration-reform/adl-background


The Federation for American Immigration Reform, or FAIR, of
1666 Connecticut Avenue, N.W., Suite 400, Washington, DC
20009, has described itself as "a national nonprofit
membership organization working to stop illegal immigration
and conform U.S. immigration policy with the realities of the

FAIR, according to a sketch of the group in the Encyclopedia
of Associations' volume on National Organizations of the
U.S.," advocates comprehensive reform of present immigration
policies to conform with present-day demographic,
environmental, and labor-force realities. It seeks, among
other things, to establish a single, stable ceiling for all
legal immigration, including refugees; to enforce the
prohibition of employment of illegal immigrants, to establish
better enforcement of U.S. borders and more efficient record-
keeping of visitors and guests in the U.S.; and to enforce
exclusion of illegal residents from census figures used for
reapportionment of Congress. It also encourages diplomatic
and economic efforts to help leaders in "source countries"
deal with the overpopulation and underdevelopment that
results in emigration pressures.

FAIR is a membership organization which claims 45,000 members
who pay dues of $20 a year and receive the group's monthly
newsletter, the "FAIR Immigration Report." The group also
published the "FAIR Information Exchange," a bimonthly
containing reprints of articles and studies dealing with
immigration, and a monograph series titled "FAIR Papers." It
also maintains a book and videocassette library on topics of
immigration, population, labor economics and government. FAIR
operates with a staff of 15 under the direction of Daniel
Stein, its Executive Director. Stein succeeded the group's
original Executive Director, Roger Conner, in 1988. FAIR's
Boards of Directors has included Richard Lamm, former
Governor of Colorado, and Dr. John Tanton, who was
instrumental in establishing FAIR and later U.S. English,
which seeks to make English the official legal language in
the United States.

FAIR was founded in January, 1979 and came to U.S. public
attention initially in early 1980. On February 25, 1980, the
Chicago "Tribune" published an editorial entitled "Is FAIR
being fair?" which noted that, in a lawsuit before a federal
court in New York, FAIR lawyers were demanding the US. Census
Bureau be prohibited from counting illegal immigrants in the
census. The paper stated: "If the court rules in FAIR's
favor, and if the ruling is upheld on appeal, the census
could be seriously delayed. Millions of questionnaires
already are printed; changing them would take months and cost
millions." The "Tribune" concluded by saying; "FAIR has a
legitimate case for immigration reform. U.S. immigration
policy is a mess and enforcement is laughable. But the proper
place to argue the case is before Congress and in the
capitals of such countries as Mexico, which contribute to the
problem. The U.S. Census Bureau...should be allowed to get on
with it."

On April 2, 1980, the New York "Times" published a full-page
advertisement from the Federation for American Immigration
Reform. It was headed "Common Sense, the Census, and Illegal
Immigration." The ad stated in part: "FAIR, the Federation
for American Immigration Reform, has sued the Census Bureau
to require that the count of illegal immigrants be made
separate  from the count of citizens and legal resident
aliens. The Justice Department has replied that, under the
Constitution, illegal immigrants could be allowed to vote for
Congress and for the President. That's not good common
sense." It added: "The FAIR suit, joined by 2 Senators and 24
U.S. Congressmen, is now before the Supreme Court. In
addition, Congressional supporters of the suit have
introduced legislation in both the Senate and the House of
Representatives to require the Census to exclude illegal
immigrants from the figures used to reapportion Congress."

FAIR's suit failed to halt the census taking. Toward the end
of 1980, the "Rocky Mountain News" of Denver on December 2
reported that then-Governor Richard Lamm, at a Statehouse
press conference introduced Roger Conner, then FAIR's
Executive Director, endorsed the group's goals, and said that
he had been searching "for the right forum to raise the
immigration issue." The same day, the "Rocky Mountain News"
published an ad from FAIR headed "Our Grandparents Came To
America To Escape Poverty And Despair. Will Our Children Want
To Leave For The Same Reasons?" It stated in part: "Americans
are divided on many issues. But when it comes to limiting
immigration, they are nearly unanimous . . . Unfortunately,
our political leaders have not heard this message. That's why
we have organized a national campaign to deliver it to them."
A subsequent editorial in the Denver "Post" took issue with
FAIR's position, concluding;

     Those of us who got here first are fortunate
     to live in a nation that is so attractive to
     the world's poor, oppressed and dissatisfied.
     But we wouldn't want to live in a nation that
     sets unnecessarily strict limits on how many
     new citizens it is willing to admit.

In a May 20, 1981 op-ed page article in the Long Beach,
California "Press-Telegram" entitled "U.S. Immigration
overload: It hurts Hispanic Americans Too," FAIR's Roger
Conner stated that his group had some Hispanic members. He
said that the reason was because "They know that tolerance
for illegal immigration is built on the backs of today's
Hispanic American workers, who are asked to silently accept
unfair job competition with an endless stream of newcomers,
eager to work more for less pay." He went on to say that
"Florida's Cuban American community has tragically witnessed
the effects of immigration overload upon local community
relations " Conner concluded by declaring: "We invite our
fellow Americans of Hispanic descent to join with us in a
resolute effort to put illegal immigration behind us, so that
we can move on to the unfinished business of building a more
equitable society for all Americans."

On February 22, 1982, the Washington "Post" published an ad
from FAIR headed "An Open Letter To Congress: It's Time To Do
Something About Immigration" and subheaded "Immigration To
The United States Cannot Be Unlimited, and We Can Control
Immigration Through Reform Of Our Laws." Its message was; We
must strengthen our basic immigration law by making it
direct, simple, and workable. Congress must act in this
session. Now is the time for action." The ad included an
unusual array of supporters. Among those listed were
President Gerald R Ford, Charlton Heston, Rabbi Marc H.
Tanenbaum, Retired Generals Maxwell D. Taylor and A.C.
Wedemeyer, Richard D. Lamm, and John H. Tanton, who was
identified as Chairman of FAIR. Three months later, FAIR
published a similar open letter in the New York "Times" of
May 11, 1982; additional listed names included Edward Asner,
Barbara Jordan and Clair Booth Luce.

The Washington "Post" presented a profile of FAIR in a
November 29, 1983 article entitled "FAIR Leader Fights For
Immigration Curbs " It stated, among other things,  that
"FAIR is the only national organization whose sole reason for
existence is the promotion of stricter immigration controls."
It notes too that "FAIR is the brainchild of a trio including
John Tanton, a Michigan surgeon and a former president of
Zero Population Growth; Otis Graham, a University of North
Carolina history professor, and Sydney Swensrud, a retired
chairman of Gulf Oil Corp." It added: "The three had little
in common except a concern about what they considered
excessive immigration. They were joined by philanthropists
Stewart Mott and Jay Harris and by William Paddock, former
dean of the largest agricultural school in Central America."
The article also quoted FAIR's Conner on the parameters of
the debate, as follows:
     "We wanted to be a catalyst in the movement,
     to stay in the boundaries of major progressive
     democratic values," he said. "How are we going
     to do this without bringing the crazies out of
     the woodwork? Can we do it without people of
     ill will? Everything we've done since then has
     been evaluated against that. We do not want to
     tap into the racist, anti-immigrant feelings
     we all know in this country."
The Washington "Post" article went on to say:

     Despite this effort Conner has become a
     lightening rod for criticism. A host of
     adversaries say he has built up FAIR and fed
     the restrictionist viewpoint on a diet of
     anti-foreigner fears, on a theme of "us
     against them."
     "There are three things which you can use to
     raise money; love, fear and hate. Roger has
     chosen fear," said one immigration specialist
     who asked not to be identified. "`We have too
     many people, our borders are being overcome' -
     those are all legitimate on the surface by the
     raw data, but FAIR uses it to make people
     fearful of foreigners, fearful of change,
     fearful of new people, essentially, and on
     that he raises a lot of money."
     "Roger is absolutely not a racist, he is
     absolutely not antiforeigner, but he uses
     racism," the specialist added.

In addition to other activities, FAIR has used the letters-to-the-
editor columns of newspapers to promote its message.

For example, in a letter published in the New York "Times" of July
9, 1985, Roger Conner stated,  "The number of illegal immigrants
is clearly large enough to warrant concern. At this stage, we
should be debating solutions rather than engaging in an endless
and ultimately futile dispute over the precise numbers involved "
In a letter published in the Washington "Post" of August 30, 1988,
FAIR's Assistant Director, Patrick Burns, concluded "Pyramid
schemes don't work, there's no such thing as a free lunch, and
there are limits to all good things, even immigration." In a
September 1990 letter in the New York "Times," FAIR Executive
Director Dan Stein declared: "If Congress believes that skilled
immigration is important to this country, it should present the
American people with a balanced  bill that gives  preferences to
people with needed skills, not  special-interest amnesty pork
barrel that includes a few additional merit-based visas as an

In January, 1990 "Newsweek" magazine reported that Hispanic groups
in Houston, Texas were accusing FAIR of racism. "Newsweek" stated:
"The issue: the test-marketing of anti-immigration ads in which
actors lament the 'millions' of immigrants who could flood into
the county if new laws aren't passed to stop them." The magazine
said that Hispanics were particularly angered by the fact that an
Immigration and Naturalization Service official actually appeared
at a meeting to promote the ads. It added that the controversy had
become so heated that all the radio stations broadcasting the ads
pulled them from the air.

In mid-1990, Stein also wrote an op-ed page article about
immigration which was published in Long Island, New York's
"Newsday." It was headed 'Let's Not Lift the Floodgates For a Wave
of New Immigrants." Stein charged: "A coalition of special
interests - cheap labor contractors, immigration lawyers, ethnic
advocacy groups and some libertarian think tanks - have been
bringing considerable pressure to bear on Congress to expand
immigration levels to the United States." He referred to a bill
known as "The Family Unity and Employment Opportunity Immigration
Act of 1990." FAIR's Executive Director concluded that "In an era
when the American people are becoming increasingly skeptical about
the ability of the government to promote and guarantee their
interests, congressional efforts to reintroduce large-scale
immigration further reinforces the feeling that Washington is out
of touch with the people."

ln May, 1992, New York "Newsday" reported on a Roper Organization
poll on immigration that was commissioned by FAIR. It said that,
according to the results of the Roper poll, most Americans believe
that the county lets in too many lawful immigrants a year. Dan
Stein was quoted in the article as stating about the poll: "The
results are unequivocal. The American people are unhappy with the
current direction of U.S. immigration policy and they want
changes." On The other hand, the article also quoted Reynaldo
Guerrerro, Executive Director of the Center for Immigrants Rights,
as saying; "We know FAIR's agenda is to restrict and limit
immigration. They will do surveys and studies that will
substantiate their concerns."

In April, 1993 "The Jewish Week" of Washington, D.C. reported that
the U.S. had granted refugee status and resettled almost one
thousand Iraqi soldiers captured by U.S. troops during the Persian
Gulf War. It added that federal refugee guidelines require the
U.S. to pay Medicaid and welfare for these POW's. It then quoted,
from the Washington "Times," a spokesman for FAIR as complaining
"We've taken POW's in every war we've ever fought and didn't bring
them here to live afterward."

In January, 1994 "The New Republic" magazine carried a full-page
ad from FAIR which was headed, "Why All Americans Should Support A
Moratorium On Immigration." It stated, for example, that
"Thousands of illegal immigrants enter the county every day - 3
million illegal entries a year. The law admits more immigrants and
other workers than the economy can absorb. Fake documents are
easily obtained, providing access to benefits meant for legal
residents." It went on to charge that "immigration policymakers
seem more concerned with pleasing the special interests than doing
the will of the people they are elected to serve."

[ADL Research, New York]
December 19, 1995

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