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[Congressional Record: July 25, 2002 (Extensions)]
[Page E1364-E1366]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access []

[[Page E1364]]


                         HON. JAMES P. McGOVERN

                            of massachusetts

                    in the house of representatives

                        Wednesday, July 24, 2002

  Mr. McGOVERN. Mr. Speaker, I would like to bring to my colleagues' 
attention an interview with Mr. Rich Swartz in the Summer 2002 edition 
of Intelligence Report, the quarterly publication of the Southern 
Poverty Law Project.
  For nearly two decades, I have had the privilege of knowing and 
working with Rick Swartz in defense of the rights of immigrants. In 
1982, he founded the National Immigration Forum, which is the leading 
immigration rights advocacy group in the nation. We first met when we 
were both working to secure a safe haven for Salvadoran and other 
Central American refugees here in the United States.
  The interview explores the lengthy battles with anti-immigration 
forces in the United States and the prospects for securing immigrant 
rights in today's national environment. Rick Swartz is someone who 
feels strongly about America's roots as a nation of immigrants and who 
believes that current immigration is an important contributor to a 
strong future for our country. I join him in those beliefs, and I 
commend this article to my colleagues.

              [From the Intelligence Report, Summer 2002]

                          Defending Immigrants

   a key activist in the struggle for immigrant rights discusses the 
         evolution and nature of the anti-immigration movement

       Over the last quarter of a century, Rick Swartz may have 
     done more than any other activist to encourage a healthy 
     level of immigration to America and to protect the rights of 
     immigrants once they are here. After graduating from the 
     University of Chicago Law School, Swartz directed an 
     immigrant rights project at the Lawyers Committee for Civil 
     Rights before going on to found, in 1982, what has become the 
     nation's leading immigration rights advocacy group, the 
     National Immigration Forum. Swartz was president of the 
     Forum, a coalition of more than 250 national organizations 
     and several thousand local groups, until 1990. In that post, 
     he worked to secure have for Haitian and Central American war 
     refugees, to legalize the status of millions of other 
     immigrants and to battle the anti-immigrant and English Only 
     movements. Since leaving the Forum, Swartz, now 52, has run a 
     small public policy firm representing a range of corporate 
     and nonprofit clients, at the same time continuing his 
     immigration advocacy work. The Intelligence Report asked 
     Swartz about his lengthy battles with America's leading anti-
     immigration activists, his view of the movement today, and 
     his analysis of the movement's prospects.
       Intelligence Report: In looking at the contemporary anti-
     immigrant movement [see story, p. 44], we've found that even 
     though there are a large number of organizations involved, 
     they almost always seem to go back to one man--John Tanton, 
     the Michigan ophthalmologist who founded the Federation for 
     American Immigration Reform [FAIR] in 1979. Has that always 
     been the case?
       Swartz: Tanton is the puppeteer behind this entire 
     movement. He is the organizer of a significant amount of its 
     financing, and is both the major recruiter of key personnel 
     and the intellectual leader of the whole network of groups. I 
     don't know if he's personally wealthy--it could well be that 
     people give him big donations just because he is so 
     mesmerizing. He does have a charismatic feel about him.
       It's been clear since 1988, when a series of embarrassing 
     internal memos by Tanton and Roger Conner [who was then 
     executive director of FAIR] were leaked to the press, what 
     the overall strategy is. Those memos are a blueprint for what 
     Tanton and his friends have been doing ever since.
       IR: Can you describe that blueprint?
       Swartz: The blueprint envisaged creating a whole array of 
     organizations that serve the overall ideological and 
     political battle plan to halt immigration--even if some of 
     these groups have somewhat differing politics. They 
     camouflage the links between these organizations, their true 
     origins, so that they appear to have arisen spontaneously. 
     But in fact they have the same creator, Tanton.
       IR: So the idea was to create the illusion of a grassroots 
     movement that was supported by a significant number of 
       Swartz: Yes indeed, to confuse the press. The leaked memos 
     did bring some public attention to the Tanton network, and 
     some of these linkages were further exposed in the early 
     1990s. More recently, FAIR's tax records established that the 
     center for Immigration Studies, which has become an 
     influential Washington institution, was spun off from FAIR as 
     a separate organization. But these facts aren't widely known 
     by the public today.
       For years and years, Fair and these other spinoffs have 
     been part of a strategy of, ``Well, it can't just be Fair and 
     other major Tanton creations like U.S. English and the Center 
     for Immigration studies, because then it's too easy to pin us 
     down. So therefore how about creating Numbers USA, English 
     First, the American Immigration Control Foundation and all 
     these smaller local groups?'' all of this was anticipated by 
     the memos, which were written in 1986, two years before the 
       IR: has even the limited exposure of these kinds of 
     linkages damaged the ability of Tanton's anti-immigrant 
     groups to affect public policy in Congress?
       Swartz: They are well know to everybody deeply involved in 
     the immigration debate. But when it comes to Congress, very 
     few members--maybe two--can come close to understanding the 
     situation or the history of the immigration reform efforts of 
     the last 25 years. They may have voted on immigration-related 
     items, but immigration is not a way of life for them.
       IR: Let's go back a little. How did Tanton get started?
       Swartz: When Tanton started Fair in 1979, he was already 
     president of a liberal organization, Zero Population Growth 
     (ZPG). He wanted ZPG to be the vehicle for a significant 
     advocacy effort to reduce immigration, but the senior staff 
     and at least some members of the ZPG board resisted. As a 
     result, Fair was created. Conner ran Fair as executive 
     director through most of the '80's before leaving to become 
     executive director or yet another Tanton creation, the 
     American Alliance for Rights and Responsibilities, which was 
     intended to be an antidote to the ACLU (American Civil 
     Liberties Union). At the time, Fair was promoting employer 
     sanctions (laws to punish those who hire illegal aliens) and 
     dramatic increases in border enforcement, sweeps, arrests and 
     deportations. It was opposing guest worker programs and 
     asylum for refugees from Haiti or the Central American wars.
       It was also Fair that first had the idea of barring social 
     services and other public benefits for immigrants (an 
     enterprise that came to fruition with California's 
     Proposition 187, which was passed in 1994 with the support of 
     Fair and other Tanton creations, but ultimately found to be 
     unconstitutional). Fair also tried to build linkages to 
     mainstream environmental groups, but without much success.
       IR: When did Tanton get into the English Only movement?
       Swartz: Tanton established an organization called U.S. 
     English in the early 1980s, and this became his second major 
     national organization after Fair. The organization was 
     dedicated to ``English Only'' [the idea that all official 
     government business should be conducted in English alone], 
     and it attracted into its ranks a number of well-known 
     celebrities--Walter Cronkite and Arnold Schwarzenegger, for 
     example. U.S. English funded a range of ``official English'' 
     state and local referenda [through early 2002, 27 states had 
     passed English-only legislation]. The most recent example of 
     this kind of activity is in Iowa, where the governor earlier 
     this year declared English the state's official language.
       By the way, there is a lot happening in Iowa right now. Why 
     Iowa? Well, you've got meatpacking plants and the immigrants 
     employed in them, leading to demographic change. And you have 
     Iowa's governor making pro-immigration statements over the 
     last couple of years, saying we're losing people and we need 
     new people, therefore we should be trying to attract 
     immigrants. And, of course, Iowa is the first presidential 
     primary. So add it all up, and you can see why they're 
     spending a ton of advertising money in Iowa. It's perfect for 
     Tanton's message.
       IR: Although he has always denied it, Tanton and his 
     progeny have frequently been accused of being racist, not to 
     mention anti-Catholic and, in particular, anti-Hispanic. In 
     fact, Tanton helped to arrange for the English-language 
     publication of The Camp of the Saints, a grotesquely racist 
     French novel that tells of European civilization being 
     overrun by bestial Third World immigrants. And he continues 
     to promulgate that book in his role as publisher of The 
     Social Contract Press, a hate group. What do you make of the 
     role of this remarkable book?
       SWARTZ: A movement of the kind that Tanton envisions needs 
     a bible. It needs a bible for conversion. It needs a bible as 
     an ideological road map. It needs a bible to stimulate zeal 
     and a sense of belief among its followers. The Camp of the 
     Saints is that book for Tanton. It puts out a vision of 
     immigrants rampaging and destroying the West, and that is the 
     vision that Tanton believes in and wants his followers to 
     believe in. James Crawford, who wrote a book on the English 
     Only movement, calls The Camp of the Saints ``a cult book''--
     and that is what I think it is.
       IR: A similar vision of white people being overwhelmed by 
     dusky, Third World hordes is suggested in the Tanton-Conner 
     memos. Did the leak of those memos to The Arizona Republic 
     hurt Tanton and Fair significantly?
       SWARTZ: It hurt him a lot at the time. The revelations led 
     to the resignation of Linda Chavez, who had become executive 
     director of U.S. English in the mid-1980s [and is a 
     conservative Republican columnist today]. A whole group of 
     celebrities resigned from the board or advisory board of U.S. 
     English because of the memos, which were complicated by The 
     Camp of the Saints being sort of a Holy Bible for the 
     movement. All this revealed the underlying ideology of 
       It also made it that much more difficult for people like 
     [former Sen.] Alan Simpson [R-Wyo.] and others who shared 
     Fair's point of view from holding Fair up as this great 
     organization that other members worked with all the time. And 
     the political character of

[[Page E1365]]

     the Tanton-Conner memos--the strategies of infiltration and 
     so on that they discussed--also contributed to the rash of 
       IR: Are there good examples of that infiltration strategy 
     at work?
       Swartz: In the 1980s, while Conner was executive director 
     of Fair, a woman named Cordia Strom became the legal 
     director. The memos had specifically discussed infiltrating 
     the Congressional staff, and Cordia was their big success 
     story. She became part of the staff of Rep. Lamar Smith [R-
     Texas] and then she went to work for the House Immigration 
     Subcommittee. She was in that job through 1996 and was the 
     subcommittee's chief counsel during the big 1996 immigration 
     debate [which resulted in harsh legislation, introduced by 
     subcommittee chairman Lamar Smith, that sharply reduced the 
     rights of legal immigrants]. At some point after that, she 
     went over to the Executive Office for Immigration Review [the 
     administrative appeals arm of the Immigration and 
     Naturalization Service, or INS, that is responsible for 
     making final decisions on such matters as deportations], 
     where she is still employed [as counsel to the director and 
     coordinator for congressional affairs]. After the 2000 
     election, there was even an [unsuccessful] effort to get 
     Cordia appointed deputy director of the INS.
       IR: Then the infiltration strategy was really quite 
       Swartz: Well, these groups had their own person running the 
     House Immigration Subcommittee at a critical moment. Being 
     the staff director of that subcommittee brings tremendous 
     daily influence on Lamar Smith [chairman of the subcommittee 
     from 1994 to 2000] and other Republican members. The staff 
     director has lots of access to inside information, including 
     confidential and classified information regarding 
     immigration. You have constant dealings with the INS, with 
     the Justice Department and the State Department. So someone 
     like Cordia, with her ideological bent, has an opportunity to 
     have tremendous influence throughout the Congress and the 
     government, as well as the media.
       IR: Yes, similarly, we've found that a woman named Rosemary 
     Jenks, a lobbyist for Numbers USA, is now working part-time 
     out of the office of Rep. Tom Tancredo. [Editor's note: 
     Tancredo is a Colorado Republican, chairman of the 
     Congressional Immigration Reform Caucus, and a harsh 
     immigration critic whose Web site carries data from one of 
     Tanton's creations, the Center for Immigration Studies. 
     Tancredo's Congressional Immigration Reform Caucus Web site 
     links directly to a hard-edged hate group, the Voice of 
     Citizens Together, also known as American Patrol.]
       Swartz: That's another example of infiltration at work. 
     Fair and the others have successfully placed their people 
     around folks like Tancredo in Congress.
       IR: Are there other important methods that Tanton has 
       Swartz: Another tactic of Tanton's is to turn ethnic groups 
     on each other, to create conflict between difference ethnic 
     and racial groups. One of his big arguments has always been 
     that immigration hurts blacks. Fair has bought radio 
     advertising on black radio stations to push that vision. A 
     prime example was Chicago 10 or 12 years ago, when an ad ran 
     basically saying, ``You know why you don't have a job? 
     Because some undocumented Mexican came in and stole yours 
     from you.''
       Fair also has hired black professionals and has put a lot 
     of effort into building alliances with African-American 
     intellectuals, because the unfortunate reality is that there 
     is a lot of anti-immigrant sentiment in the black community. 
     When you have dramatic demographic change going on in places 
     like South Central Los Angeles--well, it's the oldest trick 
     in the book. It's called making those who don't have a lot 
     but are making progress feel threatened by those coming after 
     them. There is some conflict among Latinos, Asian and African 
     Americans competing politically and economically, and this 
     provides fertile ground for the kind of poison that the 
     Tanton crowd has been trying to plant in the African-American 
     community for years--the idea that Latinos in particular, and 
     immigrants in general, are a threat.
       Once again, all this is prefigured in the Tanton-Conner 
       IR: That kind of conflict permeates our history, doesn't 
       Swartz: America's history is in part a story of ethnic 
     succession. At times, we've had major ethnic violence 
     surrounding this dynamic of ethnic succession. Benjamin 
     Franklin was afraid Germans were going to come in and take 
     over Pennsylvania and overwhelm the English language. We had 
     the Know-Nothing Party that came up in response to the 
     beginnings of Irish and Catholic migrations in the early and 
     middle 19th century. There were similar responses to Jewish 
     and Italian immigrants in the late 19th century. The KKK of 
     the 1920s was rooted in anti-Catholicism. Today, Tanton works 
     to create similar kinds of conflict amongst ethnic groups.
       IR: During the 2000 Michigan senatorial race, Fair ran ads 
     that essentially suggested that Spencer Abraham [R-Mich.] was 
     allowing terrorists into the country by backing higher 
     numbers of visas for immigrants with high-tech skills. The 
     ads also implied, but didn't say directly, that that was 
     because Abraham was an Arab American. Did the brouhaha over 
     those ads hurt Fair? Didn't Alan Simpson, one of Fair's 
     biggest supporters in the Senate, resign their board as a 
       Swartz: He did! Simpson condemned the ads. I think the 
     attacks on Abraham really hurt Fair among certain 
     Republicans. Something like 20 to 25 Senate Republicans put 
     their names on a letter denouncing Fair for the Abraham 
     attacks. Some of these senators today probably have no idea 
     that so-called ``respectable'' organizations, like the Center 
     for Immigration Studies, are linked to Fair. But to go back 
     to the theme of infiltration, if you look at the record of 
     witnesses before the House and Senate immigration 
     subcommittees, you will see that Fair or some other Fair-
     connected group is a witness at the vast majority of the 
     hearings. Thank you, Lamar Smith and Alan Simpson! Those 
     kinds of relationships are legitimizing. Fair can say, ``How 
     can you say we're an extremist group when we're being invited 
     to testify to Congress at the time?'' It creates great 
       IR: We're noticed some connections between the Tanton 
     network and European anti-immigrant parties. For instance, 
     Glenn Spencer, leader of the hate group Voice of Citizens 
     Together and a Tanton grant recipient, recently shared the 
     podium with Nick Griffin, leader of the neofascist British 
     National Party. Both men spoke at an event put on by another 
     racist outfit, American Renaissance magazine.
       Swartz: There is a transatlantic character to the 
     ideological underpinnings of the Tanton movement. I believe 
     that there has been for years substantial financial and 
     political and personnel interaction between the Tanton 
     movement here and the anti-immigration movements in Europe. I 
     remember in the '80s, when I was always debating Conner in a 
     variety of public forums, that he made a lot of references to 
     France, how he had just come back from France and so on.
       In fact, I believe that Fair and Tanton have an agenda of 
     seeking a Front National [a virulently anti-immigrant French 
     party] type of political party in the United States, in 
     significant part through their strong involvement in the 
     Reform Party. Their takeover attempt was personified by the 
     former governor of Colorado, Dick Lamm, who is a Fair adviser 
     and director and who tried to run for president in 1996 on 
     the Reform Party ticket. In 2000, Pat Buchanan, whose views 
     are quite similar to those of Fair, also tried to take over 
     the Reform Party. [Editor's note: Glenn Spencer was scheduled 
     to speak to the Iowa Reform Party this April.] So while I 
     can't name names, I would guess a significant number of 
     Reform activists are connected to the Tanton network.
       But then again, both Lamm and Buchanan failed pathetically. 
     This gives hope that their ideology is seen as bankrupt by 
     most Americans.
       IR: Since California's Proposition 187 was thrown out by 
     the courts in 1998, a number of anti-immigration groups like 
     the Voice of Citizens Together/American Patrol and the 
     California Coalition for Immigration Reform [CCIR] seem to 
     have gotten significantly harder-line, and also far more 
     conspiracy-oriented. At the same time, Tanton creations like 
     Center for Immigration Studies very assiduously court 
     mainstream respectability. Are these contradictory 
       Swartz: My guess is that every move is strategic and 
     deliberate. The anti-immigration movement is both 
     radicalizing on the fringes of the Tanton network and at the 
     same time mainstreaming at the core of the network. In some 
     ways, Fair is more moderate than it once was. NumbersUSA is 
     also more sedate. Simultaneously, the harder edge is carried 
     by people like [CCIR leader] Barbara Coe. She acts on the 
     extremes, while Fair appears more ``sophisticated.''
       My point is that Tanton is a brilliant tactician. He has 
     created a system where he can have his cake and eat it, too. 
     He has a political movement on the extremist, racial fringe 
     that is stirring up popular discontent and hatred with its 
     harsh rhetoric. There is a lot of fertile ground out there, 
     and the fringe is increasingly significant in areas like what 
     is going on in Iowa right now. At the same time, other Tanton 
     groups are getting invited to testify before Congress on a 
     regular basis.
       IR: So what is your prognosis for the future?
       Swartz: The challenge is to ensure that our political 
     culture is not poisoned by Tanton and his crowd, and that 
     leaders and citizens alike repudiate racial and ethnic 
     fearmongering. Know-Nothing ideologies--and multimillion-
     dollar media buys--cannot be allowed to spawn racial and 
     ethnic violence against immigrants.
       In Europe over the last 20 years, Tanton-like leaders have 
     resurrected far-right and sometimes violent movements--and 
     political parties--rooted in the fear of the stranger. The 
     Tanton vision laid out in the 1986 memos is of an apartheid 
     United States beset by racial violence, and whites not going 
     quietly into the night as their numbers are overwhelmed by 
     the demographics of immigration.
       It would be very unwise to underestimate the danger in the 
     Camp of the Saints ideology that Tanton embodies and in the 
     work that they have been doing for 25 years to turn immigrant 
     against native, black against brown, and so on. But in the 
     end, I am confident that the vast majority of Americans will, 
     as they have in the past, reject the fearmonger and, through 
     the toil of people from all over the world, build the freest 
     and most prosperous nation yet known. America is hugely 
     resilient and immigration is one of our priceless resources,

[[Page E1366]]

     especially in the coming global age. I take nothing for 
     granted when it comes to threats to America's future, but I 
     am totally confident about the goodwill and common sense of 
     America's people.