Mapping the Anti-Immigrant Movement in America

Today, the Center for New Community released an updated map of the anti-immigrant movement in America and its most influential leader, white nationalist John Tanton.

In 2009, the Center released a similar report on the John Tanton Network and the anti-immigrant movement. At the time, few recognized the name John Tanton or knew of his 30-year mission to build a nativist empire of organizations consisting of lobbyists, lawyers, legislators, and “experts” that have permeated the very depths of social and political debate.

What appeared to the public as a variety of voices advocating for severe immigration enforcement was nothing more than a series of front groups, “coalitions,” and spin-offs seeking to overwhelm reasonable debate on immigration.

John Tanton’s “Network” has faced severe criticism and more than a few setbacks over the last few years. Tanton at one point left the Federation for American Immigration Reform’s board of directors (after 32 years) after a front page exposé in The New York Times detailed his extensive ties to the larger white nationalist movement in the U.S. However, only months later he joined the group’s national advisory board.

This is a recurring scenario for all the groups highlighted in the new map. No matter how mainstream or moderate they seem to become, there is no denying that they continue to be guided by the hand of bigotry.

And they continue to viciously target immigrants and refugees of color by stoking fears around national security, the economy, and access to resources.

Look no further than Arizona and Georgia’s draconian anti-immigrant laws to see the damaging effects of the Tanton Network’s agenda.

Anti-immigrant groups continue to pose a serious threat to a present and future nation that is a truly inclusive democracy. The Tanton Network insists that it is not anti-immigrant; FAIR, the Center for Immigration Studies, NumbersUSA and remaining members increasingly position themselves as non-partisan and unbiased sources for reporters and academics.

As students, activists, and journalists we have a responsibility to identify the bigotry endemic to the anti-immigrant movement, and to challenge its agenda in mainstream America.