Immigration

Anti-immigrant Movement Attacks American Property Owners


Jill Garvey • Mar 01, 2010

The anti-immigrant movement wants private property owners to enforce immigration laws, and be punished when they don’t. It’s shocking the lengths some groups have gone to in order to pressure, intimidate or force ordinary citizens into complying with their anti-immigrant activities.

Leading this effort is Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI), the legal arm of the John Tanton Network. IRLI’s primary purpose is to push legal causes that unfairly target immigrant communities. IRLI works with extremist anti-immigrant groups and leaders to push anti-immigrant ordinances at the municipal level. In 1985, John Tanton launched IRLI, but made sure he kept it firmly under the control of Federation for American Immigration Reform, which has tried to portray itself as a mainstream organization despite its links to extremist groups, including white nationalists.

IRLI “was structured in such a way that it could operate under FAIR’S tax exemption but have its own board, appointed initially by FAIR’S board,” Tanton says in an oral history. “We tried to keep control of IRLI by making sure that the FAIR board was the ultimate authority in appointing the IRLI board.”

In New Jersey, IRLI brags about bringing a federal civil racketeering lawsuit against apartment owners for “illegal harboring” in 2008. In Pennsylvania, IRLI has persistently tried to pass anti-harboring ordinances and cost the city of Hazelton an untold amount of money in the process.

These are just a few examples of IRLI’s efforts to set a model for local legislation that will make it impossible to rent an apartment or give someone a ride in a car without first confirming their citizenship. This will make for some very serious divisions in our communities. Divisions that would make John Tanton’s white supremacist friends very happy.

Friends like VDARE, the white supremacist online publication founded by Peter Brimelow and supported by his foundation Center for American Unity. This 2006 brief illustrates Center for American Unity’s collaboration with John Tanton Network organizations. The Center for American Unity considers multiculturalism a threat to American heritage.

Then there is the question of who will be targeted next. Will taxi drivers be sued for picking up customers? Will school bus drivers have to defend themselves in court if they drive undocumented children to school? What about motel owners in these communities or ambulance drivers? I wouldn’t put it past The John Tanton Network to do whatever is necessary to divide communities along racial lines. One of FAIR’s state contacts, Minnesotans for Immigration Reform, has already taken these activities to the fringe. It recently promoted a very extreme website to supporters. The website asserts that “aiding and abetting” undocumented immigrants is a felony, and offers visitors the opportunity to “report” their landlord. Aside from all the blatantly inaccurate information contained on the site, it is clearly advocating for extreme vigilantism.

The anti-immigrant movement claims to be protecting regular, working Americans, but its actions say otherwise.

Americans value the freedom to prosper. And the freedom to do with their property as they see fit. Threatening property owners with lawsuits to further a political agenda is underhanded and hinders the economic prosperity of average Americans.

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