Immigration Battle Heating Up: Group Accuses Talk Radio Hosts of Supporting "Hate Group"

A talk radio event sparks an ugly exchange. (Image: FAIR)

A talk radio event sparks an ugly exchange. (Image: FAIR)

Over 45 of “America’s finest radio hosts,” according to organizers, have converged on Washington D.C. to hold a conservative event Tuesday and Wednesday in opposition to President Obama’s health care proposal and the possibility of immigration reform.

But the event’s organizer, the Federation for American Immigration Reform, is being denounced by America’s Voice, one of the leading pro-immigration lobbying organizations, as a hate group.

While both groups have long disagreed, and maintain widely divergent views on immigration, seldom have their attacks been so direct.

The FAIR event is a radio-thon called “Hold Their Feet to the Fire” and it’s meant to “bring true immigration reform activists from across the country together in the nation’s capital,” the group said. It seeks to focus on “how best to close the illegal alien loophole” in the health care reform bill being considered in the House, it added.

FAIR refers to conservative claims that illegal immigrants would be able to get free health care, paid for by American taxpayers, after President Obama’s reform package becomes law. That assertion has been largely debunked by several non-partisan organizations — in its latest ruling on the matter, PolitiFact rated it as a half truth.

On Monday, America’s Voice came out blazing-guns style against FAIR in anticipation of its talk radio extravaganza. The featured story on its website read:

“FAIR, a designated hate group, is storming DC to lobby Congress this week. Their goal? To block solutions on immigration and other key reforms– to sow division and fear with lies about immigrants and the President’s plans for reform. America’s Voice has launched a video, ads, and easy ways to take action to ‘fight FAIR.'”

The hate group designation originally comes from the Southern Poverty Law Center, a civil rights group that specializes in investigating hate organizations. In 2007, SPLC said that FAIR, “almost certainly the most-quoted immigration restriction organization in America,” should not be taken seriously in the immigration debate because John Tanton, its “founder, chief ideologue and long-time funder … is a racist.”

It added,

“Key staff members have ties to white supremacist groups, some are members, and some have spoken at hate group functions.

“FAIR has accepted more than $1 million from a racist foundation devoted to studies of race and IQ, and to eugenics — the pseudo-science of breeding a better human race that was utterly discredited by the Nazi euthanasia program.

“It spreads racist conspiracy theories. Its political ads have caused numerous politicians, Democratic and Republican, to denounce it.”

In its video and on its website, America’s Voice also quoted FAIR’s director, Dan Stein, as having said,

“It’s almost like [Asians and Hispanics] are getting into competitive breeding.”

The liberal group urged readers to send letters to their representatives in Congress “to say no to FAIR, and yes to real solutions on immigration.”

Stein responded to the accusations in an interview with The Washington Post, saying they were false and outdated.

The Post’s Spencer S. Hsu wrote,

“Saying something that’s not true or telling a lie 50 times doesn’t make it more true than the first,” Stein said, noting that SPLC began attacking FAIR earlier this decade. “They’ve decided to engage in unsubstantiated, invidious name-calling, smearing millions of people in this movement who simply want to see the law enforced and, frankly, lower levels of immigration,” Stein said.

Hsu also interviewed America’s Voice executive director Frank Sharry, who said the progressive camp –smarting from the immigration debacle two years ago and the ugly health care debate taking place right now– is ready to take the fight up a notch this time:

“Now we realize it’s part political debate and . . . part culture war.”

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