Federation for American Immigration Reform

Recognized as the leading anti-immigration group in the United States, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) has received support from numerous celebrities and politicians and claims membership from both conservative and liberal party supporters, whose donations make possible the high visibility FAIR receives through its many advertising campaigns.

A nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, FAIR was started by Tanton, JohnJohn Tanton, the founder of several anti-immigration groups in the United States. He built FAIR upon the principle that high levels of immigration increase overpopulation and pollution that damage the environment. FAIR also maintains that high immigration hurts the national economy by raising unemployment levels due to the influx of job candidates. FAIR has consistently condemned companies that have hired undocumented workers, who FAIR charge take jobs that should go to American citizens. In addition, FAIR maintains that the welfare system has been flooded due to the congestion of workers and lack of jobs.Federation for American Immigration ReformFederation for American Immigration Reform[cat]IMMIGRATION REFORM;Federation for American Immigration Reform[01730][cat]ANTI-IMMIGRANT MOVEMENTS AND POLICIES;Federation for American Immigration Reform[01730]


FAIR’s purpose is not to halt immigration completely, but to reduce its rate to about 30 percent of its current annual levels. It has outlined a number of principles for immigration reform:

•limiting immigration rates

•rejecting amnesty and guest-worker programs

•setting minimum wages for jobs–such as those in agribusiness–that draw undocumented immigrants

•penalizing employers who hire illegal immigrants

•restricting offers of Asylum, politicalasylum

•increasing border patrols

FAIR’S opposition to certain immigration reform proposals has contributed the defeat of some measures in Congress. A notable example was the so-called [a]H1B Visa programH1B Visa program, which was designed to attract more high-technology workers during the 1990’s. Arguing that high-tech companies wished to hire foreign workers only because they could be paid cheaper wages, FAIR led a campaign to defeat this bill. FAIR also complained that the bill had no stipulation requiring companies to hire American workers first, which would have meant that Americans might lose out on high-paying jobs to cheaper foreign workers.

FAIR has also supported other congressional bills that have not been made into law. Its Web site reports regularly on current immigration legislation, including a call by the organization’s president, Stein, DanDan Stein, urging Congress to pass H.R. 1940, the [a]Birthright Citizenship Act of 2007Birthright Citizenship Act of 2007. This bill sought to eliminate the automatic granting of U.S. citizenship to all persons born in the United States, regardless of their parents’ legal status. Stein supported the proposal on the grounds that it would eliminate the problem of “Anchor babies”[anchor babies]“anchor babies,” a derogatory term for children born in the United States to illegal immigrants. The bill sought to amend immigration law to grant citizen status only to children born with at least one parent who was a U.S. citizen. The bill was introduced in the House of Representatives in April, 2007, but was never moved to a vote in either the House or the Senate.

Criticisms of FAIR

FAIR has faced its share of controversies, particularly criticisms that it has used racist and unfair tactics in its ad campaigns. For example, the group’s inflammatory attack on Michigan senator Abraham, SpencerSpencer Abraham was condemned as a smear campaign when it displayed a picture of Abraham standing alongside the al-Qaeda leader bin Laden, OsamaOsama bin Laden, while denouncing him for his efforts to block Section 110 of the [a]Enhanced Border Security and Visa Reform Act of 2001Enhanced Border Security and Visa Reform Act of 2001. That section proposed the creation of a database for all border entry points that would record the arrivals and departures of all noncitizens. Senator Abraham claimed that this would cause undue delays at the already congested borders, particularly in his own state of Michigan, where delays of two-four hours at the Detroit-Windsor border were common. When Abraham was up for reelection against FAIR’s founder Tanton, JohnJohn Tanton in 2000, FAIR ran advertisements opposing him. These ads depicted Abraham, who happens to be of Lebanese Arab descent, as
a terrorist supporter.

Tanton himself has been labeled a racist, and FAIR was classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law CenterSouthern Poverty Law Center in 2007. Other organizations that Tanton has founded include NumbersUSANumbersUSA, a body with the same basic objectives as FAIR. He also founded the Social Contract PressSocial Contract Press, a publishing company that specializes in anti-immigration books.

FAIR has also come under attack for its receipt of donations from the Pioneer FundPioneer Fund, an organization that supports Eugenicseugenics research. Other criticisms have been aimed at remarks made by Stein, DanDan Stein, which have been labeled anti-Catholic and xenophobic. FAIR has also been criticized for utilizing scare tactics in its campaign advertisements, which indicate that the level of immigration is so dangerously high that it might threaten America’s ability to survive.Federation for American Immigration Reform

Further Reading

  • Baumgarten, Gerald. Is FAIR Unfair? The Federation of American Immigration Reform (FAIR). New York: Anti-Defamation League, 2000. Fifteen-page report offering an objective analysis of FAIR policies. Available in PDF format on the Anti-Defamation League’s Web site, www.adl.org.
  • Jones, Maldwyn A. American Immigration. 2d ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992. Impartial historical summary of immigration in the United States.
  • Riley, Jason L. Let Them In: The Case for Open Borders. New York: Gotham Books, 2008. Offers rebuttals to anti-immigrationists and argues for a practice of regulating cross-border labor flows rather than stopping them and maintains that the United States has more to gain than to lose from immigrants seeking a better life.

Eugenics movement

Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986

Language issues


Welfare and social services