The Southern Poverty Law Center on Tuesday released “The Nativist Lobby,” a report examining the connections among the three Washington-based organizations that have led the charge for restricting immigration to the United States.
They are the Federation for American Immigration Reform, the Center for Immigration Studies and Numbers USA — a lobbying group, think tank, and grassroots organizer, respectively.
All three groups are well known — you have probably come across their leaders denouncing immigration “amnesty” in news articles and on TV. The groups have the ear of conservative politicians all over the country, and their efforts have inspired many of the hard-line federal, state and local initiatives cracking down on immigrants and immigration. Numbers USA even took credit for a storm of blast faxes and phone calls to Congress that helped to kill a major immigration bill in 2007.
What is less well known, the report says, is what the groups have in common: histories connecting them to a retired Michigan eye doctor with a long-held interest in eugenics, racial quotas, and white nationalism.
The groups insist that they do not hold racist or extremist views. That’s good.
But the report argues that people should know about the groups’ history, something they and their allies don’t usually like to talk about. It calls them “fruit of the same poisonous tree.”
Many people who want stricter policies on immigration are not racist or extremist. Many care about seeing the law enforced, or are worried about overpopulation. But it’s also true that there are racist and extremist elements in the movement, and it is important to call them out.
Kudos to SPLC for shining a light.
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