Today, two important events demonstrated just how far to the right the Republican Presidential candidates are shifting on the immigration issue. The first was the endorsement of Iowa front runner, Mike Huckabee, by Minutemen founder, Jim Gilchrist –not so much for the fact that Gilchrist is once again trying to thrust his agenda center stage – but rather Huckabee's willingness to embrace it.
On stage at an event in Council Bluffs with Gilchrist ,Huckabee characterized the anti- immigrant vigilante as "a person who just got fed up with what he saw as a breakdown of his own government.…Since October of 2004 he's been one of the leading voices in this country trying to bring sanity to an issue that's spiraled.." adding:
"Frankly, Jim I've got to tell you there were times in the early days of the Minutemen I thought what are these guys doing, what are they about," Huckabee said. "I confess I owe you an apology." He said of Gilchrist, "nobody can question his commitment to his country."
The second event was an announcement by the leading civil rights watchdog group, The Southern Poverty Law Center, that the parent organization of the Washington think tank that's been credited with formulating Huckabee's new tough nine-point plan on immigration has been officially placed on their list of Hate Groups operating in the US.
In a statement issued today, the SPLC asserted that due to its ties to know white supremacists and promotion of racist ideas, the nation's leading anti-immigrant organization, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), would be placed on the Hate Group list. It joins other radical groups like the Neo-Nazi, National Alliance, and the KKK, who also share the same classification.
The country's leading anti-immigration organization — whose leaders have testified repeatedly before Congress and are frequently quoted in the media — has ties to known racists and a long track record of bigotry, according to a new report released today by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).
The group, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR):
- is the creation of a man who operates a racist publishing company and has compared immigrants to "bacteria;"
- has employed members of white supremacist groups in key positions;
- has promoted racist conspiracy theories; and
- has accepted more than $1 million from the Pioneer Fund, a racist foundation devoted to eugenics and to proving a connection between race and IQ.
The SPLC today added FAIR to its list of hate groups operating in the United States.
"FAIR's position on immigration is rooted more in its anti-Latino and anti-Catholic beliefs than in policy concerns," said Mark Potok, the director of the SPLC's project that monitors hate group activity. "Remarkably, it has still managed to infiltrate the mainstream and shape the immigration debate in this country."
FAIR helped defeat federal immigration reform earlier this year and has played a key role in fueling the fierce, anti-immigrant backlash in the United States. It was founded in 1979 by John Tanton, a man who has compared immigrants to bacteria and warned that high birthrates will allow Latinos to take over America. Still a member of FAIR's board, Tanton also operates The Social Contract Press, listed as a hate group for many years by the SPLC because of its anti-Latino and white supremacist writings.
FAIR's ties to Huckabee come through its public policy wing; The Center for Immigration Studies, which the former Arkansas Governor has widely credited for the formulation of his new "get tough" immigration policy. In fact he pretty much just lifted the whole thing from a proposal by CIS executive director Mark Krikorian.
The nine-point immigration plan released Friday by former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee came with a footnote:
"Note: This plan is partially modeled on a proposal by Mark Krikorian, Executive Director of the Center for Immigration Studies." That proposal by the conservative anti-illegal immigration activist was published in the National Review in May 2005.
Not only is Huckabee's plan strikingly similar to the magazine piece – in some cases, it contains exact quotations copied over from the article
Its been well documented that FAIR, CIS and a network of other leading anti-immigrant groups are all in fact not only connected, but were all founded and under the leadership of one man; John Tanton, who for over 25 years has been the driving force behind the ant-immigrant movement. The groups share funding, leadership, and in some cases offices.
in 1985, FAIR would spin off yet another major Tanton organization — the Center for Immigration Studies, which presented itself as an impartial think tank and later even sought to distance itself from the organization that had birthed it.
Today, the Center regularly dispatches experts to testify on Capitol Hill, and last year it was awarded a six-figure research contract by the U.S. Census Bureau.
The fact that Huckabee has chosen to align himself with CIS, Krikorian, and FAIR is not surprising. FAIR, through its networks of organizations, has become a leading political force in anti-immigrant politics. During the last debate over immigration reform legislation, FAIR affiliate, Numbers USA, was credited with a campaign that generated over a million faxes in opposition to the bill. Obviously with the adoption of Kirkorian's immigration policies Huckabee is hoping to put the full weight of the Tanton network behind his campaign.
This "new" Mike Huckabee is a far cry from the preacher turned politician who a few years ago called anti-immigrant legislation "Un-Christian"
Gov. Mike Huckabee Thursday denounced a bill by Sen. Jim Holt that would deny state benefits to illegal immigrants as un-Christian, un-American, irresponsible and anti-life.
… Even if benefits to people who are in the U.S illegally could be stopped, "I don't understand how a practicing Christian can turn his back on a child from this or any other state," Huckabee said.
… The bill is modeled after a similar law in Arizona and supported by the newly formed group Protect Arkansas NOW. The group's chairman is Joe McCutchen
… Huckabee said he took exception to characterization of immigrants in the bill and by its supporters as exploiters of social programs. "They pay sales taxes on their groceries," Huckabee said. "They pay fuel taxes. If they're using a fake Social Security number, they're paying Social Security taxes and will never receive any benefit. It would be closer to the truth to say they're subsidizing Joe McCutchen and Jim Holt more than the other way around.
Arkansas News Bureau, 1/28/05
But then again, the old Mike Huckabee could never have gotten through the Republican primary process …not in the current toxic climate where hate groups, racist vigilantes, and politicians willingly join forces to pander and promote hatred and fear.