The John Tanton Network and the Anti-Immigrant Movement in America

Jill Garvey • Jul 07, 2009

One man is at the heart of the most influential network of anti-immigrant groups in the country.

This man, John H. Tanton, has created an empire of organizations populated by lobbyists, lawyers, legislators, and “experts” that have permeated the very depths of America’s social and political debate on immigration.

What appears to the public as myriad separate voices all advocating for one cause, i.e. severe immigration enforcement, is nothing more than a facade, a collection of craftily constructed front groups, faux-“coalitions,” and spin-offs that are collectively unified in their goal to overwhelm any reasonable debate on immigration with their branded worldview of bigotry.

This collective is known as the John Tanton Network.

Tanton founded the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), the Network’s rhetorical compass, 30 years ago, and shortly thereafter U.S. Inc. These two groups jointly fund and support most of America’s contemporary national anti-immigrant groups.

Groups like the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), also founded by Tanton, which serves as a quasi think tank to the anti-immigrant movement. Groups like the Coalition for the Future American Worker, which pretends to be the voice of American workers. And groups like Progressives for Immigration Reform (PFIR), NumbersUSA, Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI), and United to Secure America Coalition are just a few of the more innocuous sounding groups umbrellaed under the Tanton Network.

The sheer number of them is dizzying. Their names are meant to deceive.

But their names are hardly the most sinister aspect of Tanton’s Network.

Respected civil rights groups — including the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League — have uncovered a vast amount of troubling associations with racists, white supremacists, political extremists, and die-hard fringe right-wingers. Only one example is the Pioneer Fund, a foundation committed to funding groups interested in furthering the study of “eugenics.” Practitioners of this false bio-science claim that whites are genetically superior to all other races and ethnicities.

The Pioneer Fund provided John Tanton with early funding in the sum of 1.2 million dollars.

Within the civil rights community, the Tanton Network’s ties to white supremacists, the Council of Conservative Citizens (CofCC) and the VDARE Foundation among them, only serve to heighten growing unease about their aims.

The Center for New Community is distributing a map detailing the true nature of their intricate relationships. This map shows that behind the boring, “safe” names and complicated connections, the truth is much simpler.

The John Tanton Network is a single social-political bloc with a single clear message: immigrants get out.

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