Our VoiceImmigration

Mike Hethmon and John Tanton: Two of a Kind

Stephen Piggott • May 02, 2012

Last week, the Washington Post published a lengthy profile of the nativist law firm, the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI) and its head lawyers, Mike Hethmon and Kris Kobach. Kobach’s profile is considerably larger, portraying him as a GOP darling. Hethmon, however, avoids the limelight and for good reason. It’s clear that Hethmon’s views and motivations for writing anti-immigrant ordinances are due to his concerns about the racial make-up of the country. Hethmon’s ideology and statements sound very similar to white nationalist John Tanton, the founder of the anti-immigrant movement and the Immigration Reform Law Institute’s parent organization, FAIR.

In the Post article Hethmon states that immigration is “on track to change the demographic makeup of the entire country. You know, what they call ‘minority-majority’. ” In a 1993 letter, Tanton wrote, “I’ve come to the point of view that for European-American society and culture to persist requires a European-American majority, and a clear one at that.”


Hethmon displayed his view on the perceived differences in fertility between populations stating, “To the immigration reform movement, the harsh consequences of a disregard for limits are only heightened by reproductive differences among populations.”

Tanton has written about this subject on numerous occasions, once stating “Do we leave it to individuals to decide that they are the intelligent ones who should have more kids? And more troublesome, what about the less intelligent, who logically should have less?”

Hethmon’s fear of “mass immigration” is also evident when he said, “Under conditions of mass immigration, the benefits diversity is said to provide mutate into problems.” Tanton echoed these comments stating, “so there’s a lot of political social economic consequences” of mass immigration.

Both Hethmon and Tanton warn that the United States has reached its carrying capacity. Hethmon once wrote, “Lifeboats have a limited capacity, analogous to the ecological concept that the territory of every nation has a finite carrying capacity.” Tanton uttered the following in a 2006 interview, “…one way to deal with them is to try and stop the population from growing beyond what’s been called the carrying capacity.”

As we can see, both Hethmon and Tanton clearly share the same views on the issue of immigration. Their fears of demographic changes drive them, and today, they are two of the most influential figures in the anti-immigrant movement. Much has been written about Tanton and his racist tendencies but Hethmon has managed to keep a relatively low profile. As more and more states introduce anti-immigrant legislation engineered by Hethmon, the public has a right and a responsibility to scrutinize his ideology.


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