The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) was founded in 1978 by John Tanton of Petoskey, Michigan. FAIR is one of the best-financed and most active anti-immigration groups and is part of a network of anti-immigration groups associated with Tanton (source). FAIR’s stated purpose is to “end illegal immigration” and “to set legal immigration at the lowest feasible levels consistent with the demographic, economic, social, and environmental realities.” While FAIR claims it is not xenophobic or racist and has denounced white supremacists publicly, throughout its history it has had connections to white supremacists, especially. Even more disturbing, FAIR accepted $1.2 million from the Pioneer Fund during the years 1985 to 1994, despite the Pioneer Fund being described by eugenics expert Barry Mehler as a “neo-Nazi organization, tied to the Nazi eugenics program in the 1930s, that has never wavered in its commitment to eugenics and ideas of human and racial inferiority and superiority (source).” When this link was exposed in 1988, Tanton said that he knew nothing of the Pioneer Fund’s history and continued to accept funding from them until 1994. A series of memos from the 1980s outline Tanton’s political strategy of taking on not just “lllegal” but legal immigration, as well revealing Tanton’s use of derogatory terminology to describe Latinos.
Tanton’s operations, including FAIR, are funded by a small group of individual and foundation donors. Scaife family foundations (heirs to the Mellon Bank fortune), contributed $1.4 million to FAIR from 1986-2000 while the McConnell Foundation, The Shea Foundation, The Weeden Foundation, Salisbury Foundation, Smith Richardson Foundation, Blair Foundation, and Sikes Foundation have also contributed (source).
Activities in West Michigan / Michigan
- In May of 2006, members of FAIR attended an anti-immigration rally in Grand Rapids.