FAIR was founded in 1979 by the ophthalmologist John Tanton, former historian of labor movements and director of the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions Otis L. Graham, Jr. and Sidney Swensrud, a former chairman of Gulf Oil. John Tanton is the founder of or involved in the creation of several Anti-Immigration groups that include Numbers USA and the Center for Immigration Studies, which is collectively known as the John Tanton Network. John Tanton believes maintaining an American culture requires “a European-American majority,” and according to the Southern Poverty Law Center he is a prominent figure in the white-nationalist movement.
The current President of FAIR is Dan Stein.
Funded by / Ownership
According to their website “The Federation for American Immigration Reform is an independent, non-profit research organization.” FAIR does not disclose financial information on the website. However, one of the most prominent donors over the last 20+ years is the Colcom Foundation, established in 1996 by the late heiress Cordelia Scaife May. According to Inside Philanthropy, “Colcom’s top beneficiaries include every one of Tanton’s anti-immigration groups, including FAIR (over $18 million), NumbersUSA (over $17 million), Tanton’s Social Contract Press (over $10 million), and CIS (over $8 million). Further, “Between 1985 and 1994, FAIR received around $1.2 million in grants from the Pioneer Fund. The Pioneer Fund is a eugenicist organization that was started in 1937 by men close to the Nazi regime who wanted to pursue “race betterment” by promoting the genetic lines of American whites. FAIR has a donation link on their website.
Analysis / Bias
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center “The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) is a group with one mission: to severely limit immigration into the United States. Although FAIR maintains a veneer of legitimacy that has allowed its principles to testify in Congress and lobby the federal government, this veneer hides much ugliness. Further, FAIR has ties to white supremacist groups.
In review, FAIR publishes articles and research that is currently Pro-Trump, such as this: Trump Administration Immigration Accomplishments. They also routinely denigrate immigrants as criminals or dangerous for America such as these: Examples of Serious Crimes By Illegal Aliens and conspiracies such as Could Uncontrolled Immigration Expose Us to a Public Health Crisis? This latter article is sourced to a wide range of Questionable far-right sources such as Breitbart, Gatestone Institute, and Judicial Watch.
According to the right-leaning Cato Institute, FAIR has published questionable research that is “fatally flawed.” Cato reports: “Its recent report, ‘The Fiscal Burden of Illegal Immigration on United States Taxpayers (2017)’ by Matthew O’Brien, Spencer Raley, and Jack Martin, estimates that the net fiscal costs of illegal immigration to U.S. taxpayers is $116 billion. FAIR’s report reaches that conclusion by vastly overstating the costs of illegal immigration, undercounting the tax revenue they generate, inflating the number of illegal immigrants, counting millions of U.S. citizens as illegal immigrants, and by concocting a method of estimating the financial costs that are rejected by all economists who work on this subject.
A factual search reveals a poor track record with fact-checkers.
Overall, we rate FAIR Questionable based on Extreme Right-Wing Bias as it relates to immigration, promotion of propaganda and conspiracies, as well as having connections to documented Hate Groups. (9/7/2016) Updated (D. Van Zandt 1/06/2019)