Immigration Issues

A Guide to Understanding the Tactics of the Southern Poverty Law Center in the Immigration Debate

Overview

The debate about U.S. immigration policy is a difficult and often emotional one. In recent years, a new component has been added. Shifting focus away from a debate based on the merits of various policy options, some of those advocating higher levels of immigration and amnesty for illegal aliens have resorted to attacking and impugning the motives of their opponents.

The largest and most prominent immigration reform group to come under attack is the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). The basis for the attacks against FAIR is a report by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) that designates FAIR as a “hate group.” This single report serves as the cornerstone of a relentless assault by the mass immigration and amnesty lobby against FAIR and other organizations that promote immigration reductions and enforcement of our immigration laws.

In the eyes of the law, there is no such thing as a “hate group.” It does not exist in federal statutes. It is a term entirely concocted by the SPLC. Moreover, the SPLC itself has no concrete definition. While lacking any useful specificity, the SPLC nonetheless deliberately uses this highly charged term to achieve political ends and to create an illusion that there is a surge of dangerous groups operating in America in order to increase the SPLC fundraising. In the process, the truth gets lost, reputations are damaged, and meaningful discourse on immigration policy is muted.

It is therefore essential that we thoroughly examine and respond to the charges and the motives of those leveling the accusations. This publication is designed for the media, legislators and others who are actively involved in writing about or formulating immigration policy. Its purpose is to provide:

  • An overview of the unscrupulous tactics now being used in the immigration debate which distort factual reporting and limit meaningful debate.
  • A summary of FAIR’s 30-year record of advocacy on immigration.
  • An examination into the SPLC’s motives, terminology and techniques used against FAIR and others.
  • An objective third party analysis of the SPLC’s tactics and motivations.
  • Conclusions and suggestions for fair reporting and open mindedness.

This publication also highlights the journalism profession’s own principles for reporting accusations made against individuals or organizations, as the news media are the primary tool in the SPLC’s effort to discredit FAIR. However, we believe these are excellent guidelines for anyone researching immigration policy or evaluating FAIR.

The full guide is available in pdf format.