Nativist Bedfellows
(Photo: Chip Berlet,

Connie Mackey, Vice President of the Family Research Council, reported in 2006 that the Christian Right group was wrestling with the issue of immigration. Not anymore.

Nativist Bedfellows

The Christian Right Embraces Anti-Immigrant Politics

By Tarso Luís Ramos and Pam Chamberlain

If the September 2007 Values Voters Summit is anything to go by, the Christian Right is now nearly as worked up about illegal immigration as about abortion and same-sex marriage. At that political gathering—sponsored annually in Washington D.C. by such key groups as the Family Research Council and attracting grassroots activists from across the country —the Heritage Foundation’s Robert Rector used fuzzy math as he told a packed room that low-skilled immigrants from Latin America actually drain, rather than bolster, the U.S. economy. A parade of Republican presidential hopefuls there to court support from right-wing Protestant evangelicals attempted to outdo each other with the aggressiveness of their border security plans and the severity of their proposed policies towards immigrants.

Even former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, who once charged, “Some antiimmigrant Republicans are guilty of demagoguery and racism,”1 took a much harder line on this occasion—equating the issues of abortion and illegal immigration: “Sometimes we talk about why we’re importing so many people in our workforce. It might be because for the last 35 years we have aborted more than a million people [each year] who would have been in our workforce had we not had the holo-caust of liberalized abortion under a flawed Supreme Court ruling in 1973.”2

All of this represented a significant shift from the previous year’s summit, where the opening address by rising GOP star Congressman Mike Pence of Indiana linked biblical principles to a guest worker program without amnesty. Quoting Exodus 22:21, Pence said:

“You should not mistreat the alien in your midst, for you yourselves were aliens in Egypt.”…. There is for the believer no asterisk, no exception…. We are called as believers to action, an admonition that we do not abandon the alien and a call to defend law and order and justice and a belief in the ideals of our founding fathers that we are a nation of immigrants.3

Far from embracing anti-immigrant politics as a central movement concern, back in 2006 leaders such as Connie Mackey, vice president of the Family Research Council (FRC) reported: “We are wrestling with it…. The hardest part: what to do about those people who are here now.”4

The FRC—a D.C.-based spin-off of James Dobson’s Focus on the Family that helps coordinate the Christian Right’s legislative and political agendas — was hardly alone in its reluctance to jump headlong into the battle over immigration. During 2006, spokespeople for the evangelical Right generally remained quiet on the issue despite pressure from the Bush administration to support its guest worker program. Some openly warned against alienating conservative Latino evangelicals. The National Association of Evangelicals’ policy director Richard Czik stated, “Evangelical leaders are concerned that our voice be a biblical voice that does not send the wrong signal to the growing Latino community.”5

The Christian Right is now nearly as worked up about illegal immigration as about abortion and same-sex marriage.

In October 2006, the organization attempted to stake out a moderate position on immigration with a resolution that read, in part, “Let us secure our borders, care for all families, and seek further expressions of Godly compassion and justice.”6 Still, one month later, the Republicans paid a price for their identification with harsh antiimmigrant policies that targeted Latino communities in the mid-term elections: Latino support for Republicans— strongest among Protestant evangelicals— fell from around 44 percent in 2004 polling to 29 percent in 2006.7

By January 2007, the position of some prominent Christian Right leaders hardened considerably, with the launch of the “Families First in Immigration” campaign. This sought to take a “family values” approach to the issue while also adopting a militantly anti-immigrant position. The proposal offered a path to citizenship for those unauthorized immigrants with family who are U.S. citizens while at the same time issued a frontal assault on the U.S. Constitution’s birthright citizenship provision. 8 That is, children born on U.S. soil to noncitizens would no longer receive U.S. citizenship as provided for under the 14th amendment. Many anti-immigrant activists view birthright citizenship as an incentive for immigration without documents and decry so-called “anchor babies” whose legal status encourages their undocumented parents and other relatives to remain in the country.

Meanwhile, prominent Christian conservatives, including former House Majority Leader and Texas Republican Tom DeLay, Prison Ministries’ Chuck Colson, and 2008 presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee, all began to argue that abortion creates a worker shortage that in turn produces an immigration problem as workers flow in from across the border to fill jobs.


Pressure from Below

Why would the Christian Right’s position on immigration shift so drastically from 2006 to 2007, even though it could have a divisive impact on the Republican Party? It seems some of the movement’s shepherds are following their flock. That is to say, it is the Christian Right’s base—not its leadership—that is aligning the movement with anti-immigrant forces.

A 2006 Pew Research Center survey revealed that 63 percent of conservative white evangelical Protestants—the base constituency of the Christian Right— view immigrants as a threat to “traditional American customs and values,” as compared with less than half of the general public and 39 percent of the nonreligious.9 That same year, an FRC survey of its own constituency confirmed that anti-immigrant sentiment is especially strong among those white evangelical Protestants who identify with the Christian Right. The FRC reported that 90 percent of “values voters” believed deportation of “illegal immigrants” to be consistent with “the requirements of Christian discipleship” while a mere 10 percent opted for welcoming rather than punishing “strangers searching for a better life for themselves and their family.”10

In 2005, the Christian Coalition of Georgia hosted an immigration forum attended by Reverend Julian Herrera, a local evangelical pastor from Mexico. Herrera was offended by what he heard: “They said they needed to ship us back to our countries like a UPS package…. They blamed us for traffic congestion and overloaded hospital emergency rooms.” Sadie Fields, the executive director of the host group, disputed Herrera’s memory, but she did say that “Illegal immigrants break the law in coming here, and they put a burden on hospitals, schools and other public services…. Open borders also put the United States in danger of terrorist infiltration.”11

Conservative Christian radio programs across the country now broadcast broadsides against illegal immigration and demands for a more forceful federal response.12

Sixty-three percent of conservative white evangelical Protestants view immigrants as a threat to “traditional American customs and values…”

Confronted with this kind of antiimmigrant zeal at its base, FRC and other Christian Right groups began to stake out a hardline position on immigration. Although influential conservative strategists Richard Viguerie, Paul Weyrich, Gary Bauer, Donald Wildmon and others signed on to the “Families First in Immigration” campaign led by Manuel Miranda, aide to ex-Senator Bill Frist, Republican of Tennessee, the effort collapsed because its family reunification provision was soon perceived to be too soft on “illegals.”13 For hardliners, this element of the proposal, which put a “Christian” face to an otherwise boldly nativist proposal, amounted to splitting the baby. Viguerie, who prides himself on taking an accurate pulse of the conservative grassroots, has said, “Unhappy conservatives should be taken seriously. When conservatives are unhappy, bad things happen to the Republican Party.”14 In this instance Viguerie explained, “[T]here’s a line here. Any Republican candidate who tries to compromise on [amnesty] will lose in 2008, and I and a lot of others will work very hard to make that happen.”15Yet again, the movement’s base had moved well to the right of its leadership on the issue of immigration.

Coming full circle, in announcing the 2008 Values Voters Summit, the Family Research Council’s political arm, FRC Action, gave the immigration issue high billing:

This event is a call to action for voter participation, education and training and a rallying event for patriotic Americans who want to transform the political landscape on issues such as the sanctity of life and marriage, illegal immigration, religious freedom, health care, radical Islam, judicial activism, Hollywood’s influence, the media and much more…16

So the Christian Right now finds itself in a de facto alliance with leading antiimmigrant organizations that favor sterilization and abortion among non- European migrants to the United States. They are finding common ground in a resurgence of nativism.


Why Now?

Since its resurgence as a social movement in the mid-1970s, the Christian Right’s leadership had largely steered clear of the immigration issue. Even as most of the movement’s base supported measures such as California’s successful Proposition 187 campaign in 1994 to deny public education and social services to unauthorized immigrants, most of its leadership considered the issue a liability, particularly in light of their commitment to “racial reconciliation.” Author Sara Diamond describes the movement’s late ’80s and early ’90s racial reconciliation movement as “a drive led by white evangelical clergy to publicly repent for decades of institutional racism, the kind that led to the formation of racially segregated Baptist and Pentecostal churches in the first place.”17 Given that the courting of Black and Latino conservatives remains an important movement goal, it is particularly notable that Christian Right leaders and groups have in recent years publicly adopted anti-immigrant positions. A complex combination of beliefs and material developments has helped shape the Christian Right’s animosity towards immigrants.

The FAIR Network

Since founding the Federation for American Immigration Reform in 1979, John Tanton and his collaborators have built an influential network of anti-immigrant front groups that tailor their messages to a range of constituencies, including environmentalists, population control advocates, nativists, elected officials, mainstream news media outlets, and Protestant evangelicals.51 Groups in the network include:

  • U.S. English: Lobbies against bilingual education and for English-only legislation;

  • Pro English: Launched by Tanton after he was forced to resign from the U.S. English Board;

  • Center for Immigration Studies: Positions itself as an objective think tank studying the effects of immigration;

  • NumbersUSA: A lobby group that portrays itself as “pro-immigrant and pro-immigration but anti-overimmigration”;

  • U.S. Inc.: Raises money for these and other anti-immigrant groups, such as Population- Environment Balance—which courts environmentalists to the anti-immigrant cause;

  • Center for the Future American Worker: Runs a public relations campaign arguing that illegal immigration is a particular threat to African American workers;

  • Evangelicals for Immigration Reform: Aims to, “examine the religious and moral aspects of the immigration debate.”

A segment of the contemporary Christian Right continues to mobilize around the belief that the United States was founded as a Christian country. According to these “Christian nationalists,” America is God’s chosen land, a “city on a hill” to echo 17th century Puritan writings, that must set an example to the rest of the world of a nation governed by Christian principles.18 Secularists and moral relativists represent a threat to the Christian nation, in their view, but so, too, do those who challenge American (i.e. conservative Anglo-Protestant) cultural norms, such as immigrants who bring their own religious beliefs into the country.

Reactions to immigration—both authorized and unauthorized—are shaped in part by significant changes in the nature of immigration to the United States over the last few decades. Unusually heavy immigration has driven the foreign-born population from a low of five percent in 1970 to 12.5 percent of the total U.S. population in 2000, approaching the 15 percent high-water mark set around 1890.19 Earlier waves of immigration have given rise to similarly strong anti-immigrant movements. 20 In the present period, the settlement pattern of immigrants—once highly concentrated in such “gateway” cities as New York, Los Angeles, Miami, and Chicago—is increasingly decentralized, resulting in much wider exposure to recent arrivals by U.S.-born communities around the country. The foreign-born now account for over nine percent of Georgia’s population and nearly six percent of Idaho’s.21

And since the repeal in the mid-1960s of the racial quota system that privileged immigrants of European descent, most of those immigrating to the United States have been people of color, particularly from Latin America and Asia—a development that has inflamed white nationalism among those who perceive immigration as a threat to a superior “American” culture established by Anglo (and generally Protestant) settlers [see glossary, p. 20]. Historically, the interplay between Christian nationalism and white nationalism has been an especially explosive combination. Backlash against earlier waves of Irish and Italian immigrants was informed by the prevailing view that these populations were neither Christian nor white.22

Economic instability is another factor nurturing anti-immigrant feelings among the Christian Right. Scapegoating immigrants for the difficulty in finding a good job, overcrowded public schools, ruined housing stock, and overburdened health care and other social services offers a familiar outlet for frustrations caused by complex, and in some cases systemic, factors.23

Alongside these factors, the “war on terror” has mobilized Christian Right resentment against immigrants by recasting immigration as a national security matter. One of the most popular workshops at the 2007 Values Voters Summit was one on “Islamofascism” by prominent neoconservative and Center for Security Policy president Frank Gaffney. An overflow crowd listened as he charged President Bush, commander-in-chief in the “war on terror,” with being soft on the enemy and for repeatedly embracing “Islamofascists” for fear of appearing racist.24

The Christian Right leadership and base have fervently supported the war on terror since its inception, viewing Islam as a central threat to national security. “Clash of civilizations” arguments that depict a Christian West in a global, apocalyptic confrontation with “radical Islam” inflame Christian nationalism in ways that find parallel expression in the immigration debates.25 Republican Congressman Steve King of Iowa, a member of the House Immigration Reform Caucus, and the only Congressman in the 109th Congress to receive a 100 percent score both from the FRC and National Right to Life Committee, has been a leader in making the immigration-terrorist connection.

Apologists for illegals refuse to acknowledge the connection between terrorism and our lax immigration policies….The Sept. 11 hijackers used our own laws to enter the country, but remained in the country and violated their visas by staying when they expired. Only four years has passed since Sept. 11, 2001, but did we learn no lesson?26

Characterizing the southern land border as a major front in the war on terror has helped facilitate the Christian Right’s focus on immigration. According to Colin Hanna, the president of Let Freedom Ring, an anti-immigrant group that positions itself “between faith and politics,” only a 2000-mile fence along the southern U.S. land border will repel an “alien invasion.”27


Christian nationalism: The belief that the United States was founded as a Christian nation. As a subset of the Christian Right, Christian nationalists actively oppose liberal ideas such as feminism, secular humanism, and support for homosexuals as undermining “God’s chosen land.”

White nationalism: A belief system that claims the superiority of “white” or Anglo culture over all others. In the United States, early white Anglo-Protestant settlers are thought to have established the true, essential, national culture. White nationalists consider non-white peoples as threats to U.S. democracy, viewing their cultures as too distinct from—and therefore in inevitable conflict with—the dominant White one.

Nativism: An ideology that combines belief in the superiority of one’s country (nationalism) with a fear of outsiders and “foreign” ideas (xenophobia). Nativists believe that immigrants cannot or will not develop a primary allegiance to the United States, making newcomers a class a threat to national unity.


Irreconcilable Differences?

If anything could discourage the Christian Right from lending support to the anti-immigrant movement, it might be that many of its most prominent organizations were created to advance a population control agenda including sterilization and abortion for immigrants of color. However, using segmented outreach that targets different constituencies with different messages, the network of groups—many founded by a retired ophthalmologist named John Tanton—appears to have done a good job of keeping this secret from the Christian Right.

Tanton, founder and primary patron of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) and a half-dozen other leading anti-immigrant organizations, is undeniably the individual most responsible for building up the infrastructure of the contemporary anti-immigrant movement over the last thirty years [see box, p. 19].28 The first president of Northern Michigan Planned Parenthood (which, like other Planned Parenthood affiliates, provides abortions), Tanton’s support for population control and focus on immigration stem from his goal of maintaining the numerical and cultural dominance of Americans of European descent. His is a white nationalist agenda.

While the groups in Tanton’s network generally take pains to disavow any racial animus and have become increasingly successful at mainstreaming themselves in news media and policy circles, Tanton was quite forthcoming in private memos to anti-immigrant leaders that were never intended to become public. In one such memo from 1986, Tanton reveals his obsession with the fertility rates of Latina immigrants in the U.S. “To govern is to populate,” he asserts, and goes on to ask, “Will the present majority peaceably hand over its political power to a group that is simply more fertile? … As whites see their power and control over their lives declining, will they simply go quietly into the night? Or will there be an explosion?”29 Under Tanton’s leadership, FAIR accepted some $1.2 million from a 70-year-old nativist philanthropy, The Pioneer Fund, which finances eugenics research– studies that seek to demonstrate that intelligence is linked to sex and race.30

The “war on terror” has mobilized Christian Right resentment against immigrants by recasting immigration as a national security matter.

Before the latest anti-immigrant backlash, which has turned known bigots into seemingly credible news sources,31 Tanton’s racist diatribes carried more significant repercussions. They led celebrated news anchor Walter Cronkite and even antiaffirmative action campaigner Linda Chavez in 1988 to resign from the Tanton-founded U.S. English, which promotes official English legislation at the state and national levels.32Watchdog groups like Center for New Community and the Southern Poverty Law Center labor to expose the racism of Tanton’s network and the anti-immigrant movement more generally.33 By contrast, there has been no comparable criticism from the Right of Tanton’s advocacy of abortion and sterilization.

Since founding FAIR in 1979, Tanton and his collaborators spawned a hydra of front groups that presents different faces of the anti-immigrant movement to different constituencies. The network markets anti-immigrant perspectives and policies to, among others, environmentalists, population control advocates, trade unionists, African-Americans, nativists, elected officials, mainstream news media outlets and, of course, conservative evangelicals.34 The upsurge in local anti-immigrant activity has brought this national anti-immigrant network greater prominence, including regular exposure on mainstream news programs such as CNN’s strongly antiimmigrant Lou Dobbs Tonight show. According to Nativism in the House, a 2007 report by the Center for New Community (CNC), lobbyists for Tanton’s NumbersUSA have even served as “virtual staffers” and legislative counsel for the large and influential House Immigration Reform Caucus founded by retiring Republican Congressman Tom Tancredo of Colorado. 35

However, while concerns about the growing Latino immigrant population figured significantly in this national antiimmigrant network’s outreach to environmentalists—most notably in a controversial 1998 campaign to transform the Sierra Club into an immigration opponent— such arguments are downplayed or altogether absent in the movement’s outreach to evangelicals.36 This capacity to effectively niche-market anti-immigrant views to a range of different and even conflicting constituencies is one of the movement’s major achievements.

While sophisticated messaging plays a role, it is also worth noting that not all grassroots anti-immigrant militants share the national groups’ sometimes unspoken obsession with defending the nation against the fertile wombs of immigrant women. While committed to protecting the United States from what they regard as foreign hoards who cannot, or will not, assimilate, most grassroots militants aren’t focused on population growth or population control as issues in their own right.37 Rather, they’re preoccupied with the idea that the United States has too many of the wrong kind of people—and that more are coming here every day. Local groups may derisively characterize Latina immigrants as “breeders,” but in keeping with the homeland security moment their focus tends to be on mass deportations and a heavily militarized border rather than abortion and sterilization.38

Nativism is proving to be a stronger bond between anti-immigrant and Christian Right activists than abortion is a wedge.

But while abortion and population control are not yet dividing pro-life nativists from their brothers and sisters in antiimmigrant politics, some Christian conservatives have sounded the alarm. Utah Republican Chris Cannon, who has a solidly pro-life voting record and in 1999 was among the thirteen House members who prosecuted President Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial, is especially vocal.39 During a 2004 congressional subcommittee hearing on guest worker programs, Cannon referred to Numbers USA and the Center for Immigration Studies as “part of the family of Tanton groups” whose goals Cannon later described as “zero population, sterilization, abortion, eugenics, euthanasia.” 40 Cannon, in turn, has come under fire for siding with western agricultural interests in their support for immigrant guest worker legislation.

Unlike Cannon, most conservative Christian leaders have so far opted to overlook the eugenicist baggage of leading anti-immigrant groups. Nativism is proving to be a stronger bond between these sectors than abortion is a wedge.


Unholy Alliances

In the 19th century, Protestant nationalists deemed waves of largely Catholic Irish, Italian, Polish, and German immigrants as incapable of assimilating into Anglo-Protestant society— much as Latinos and Muslims are viewed today.41 Anti- Catholic sentiments persist within today’s burgeoning nativist movement. However, today the conservative white Protestant evangelical movement is in a strategic alliance with the Roman Catholic Church on a range of “life” concerns, with abortion serving as the cornerstone of this coalition. Could hostility towards Catholics become a wedge?

Anti-Catholic bigotry is not as virulent in today’s immigration debates as it once was, and some of the most strident antiimmigrant pundits and activists – including Pat and Bay Buchanan – are themselves Roman Catholic. Yet anti-Catholicism nevertheless remains a significant dynamic in the anti-immigrant movement. During an October 2007 debate on immigration in Chicago, FAIR field representative Rosanna Pulido, an evangelical Protestant, lambasted the Roman Catholic Church for its allegedly wholesale support for the immigrant rights.42 Pulido claimed, “When you have a Catholic Church that… has been ravaged because of all the children who were molested and a lot of people upset with that leaving the Church, what better way to fill your pews and fill your offering coffers than with inviting in and giving sanctuary to illegal aliens?”43

Pulido’s remarks arguably reveal less about the substance of her views on Roman Catholics than about her willingness to go to any lengths to discredit a perceived adversary. Internally, however, John Tanton’s network has long fretted over the Roman Catholic Church’s anti-abortion stance as a factor in the higher fertility rates of Latino immigrants. In one of his infamous leaked memos from the organization’s first decade, Tanton pondered the utility of anti-Catholic rhetoric, asking, “What are the implications [of Latino immigration] for the separation of church and state?

The Catholic Church has never been reticent on this point. If they get a majority of the voters, will they pitch out this concept?” Linking Catholics to the thorny issue of abortion, Tanton added, “Same question of the topic of abortion/choice, birth control, population control.”44

Grassroots nativist activists can be even less subtle in the expression of their anti- Catholic views than national anti-immigrant think tanks and lobby groups. Upset at a Roman Catholic church in San Diego that provides breakfast to day laborers and allows them to wait for employers outside the building, local Minutemen and a group called San Diego Christians for Secure Borders launched a campaign in the summer of 2007 to close the longtime day labor site. Dozens of anti-immigrant demonstrators turned out for the demonstrations, which featured an effigy of a priest with horns and a “Father Satan” label. Signs at the protest read, “More Illegal Aliens = more $$$,” and “Tax the Catholic Church: a political organization.”45 San Diego Minutemen founder David Schwilk explained that, “Someone very upset wanted to show the evil in the Catholic Church.”46

If segments of the anti-immigrant movement see the Roman Catholic Church as an adversary, the anti-choice movement looks upon Roman Catholics as vital allies. After all, Catholics were the first opponents of abortion in this country and have played a crucial role, both financially and in the growth of an energized base, in the development of a “pro-life” movement. The future of the Christian Right’s alliance with the Roman Catholic Church could possibly be altered by these expressions of anti-Catholic sentiment, but the strength and importance of an anti-choice coalition that includes them both would probably survive such a challenge.


Nativism: A Third Force

While the diverse anti-immigrant upsurge is greatly benefiting from support within the Christian Right, there is little evidence that influence is flowing in the other direction. Rather, some antiimmigrant nativists are responding to Christian Right interest in their cause by stepping up outreach, further solidifying the relationship’s imbalance.

In January 2008, Roy Beck of NumbersUSA and Michael Cutler of the Center for Immigration Studies headlined a “Culture Conference” for the California branch of Concerned Women for America (CWA), the largest Christian Right women’s organization in the country, which up to now has not paid much attention to immigration. Beck usually presents a slideshow depicting an imminent population explosion disaster in the United States resulting from unchecked immigration. At the conference Cutler did his best to appeal to CWA’s main concerns: family values and national security. In fact, he managed to combine the two in a single anecdote about the “Hezbollah-connected” Nadim Prouty “whose sham marriage enabled her to eventually become an FBI as well as a CIA employee!”47

At least until recently, such outreach to conservative white Protestant evangelicals by the anti-immigrant establishment –for instance through Roy Beck’s Evangelicals for Immigration Reform—has fallen something short of robust. A front group for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, Evangelicals for Immigration Reform, doesn’t even maintain a website. Moreover, while the Christian Right and anti-immigrant movements have largely distinct leaderships and separate movement and organizational identities, the borders that define their goals and constituencies are overlapping and permeable. However useful it is to examine the shifting relationships between these movements’ leaders and institutions, it is equally valuable to look upon nativism as an overlapping social movement, as well as a tendency coursing through various movements and campaigns on the Right, including the two movements discussed here. It constitutes a third force.48

Consider: The media success of the Minuteman groups ushered militant antiimmigrant politics into the mainstream during the spring and summer of 2005, stoking the flames of white nationalism within the Christian Right that had already been ignited by 9/11 and the “war on terror.”49 In this way, sectors of the antiimmigrant movement opened political space for Christian nationalists at both base and leadership levels to express their anti-immigrant nativism, causing a shift in focus within the Christian Right.

In this political campaign season, when many mainstream pundits are—yet again —declaring the death of the Christian Right, it is instructive to remember that part of the movement is vibrantly, even forcefully, engaged in anti-immigrant campaigns. To the extent that such pundits focus solely on the Christian Right’s ability to choose the president of the United States and to win legislative bans on abortion and what it regards as sexual perversion (e.g. same-sex marriage), they fail to perceive the movement in its true dimensions, complexities, and capacities.

It is early yet to know how various Christian Right leaders will assess the costs and benefits of their alliance with antiimmigrant nativists. Their calculations will be further complicated by the Republican Party’s nomination of Senator John McCain for president. Despite his hawkish national security credentials, McCain has been widely excoriated by the Right as being “pro-amnesty”—soft on immigration. Pragmatists surely are aware that the immigration issue did very little to help conservative candidates in the 2006 Congressional elections or the presidential candidates in the primaries. Having responded to pressure from their constituencies to address immigration, some Christian Right leaders may simply be making the best of a difficult situation until they can extricate themselves from the morass. The moment seems ripe for splits between pragmatists and purists.

In the meantime, it is nativism that continues to drive this movement convergence, and it is nativism that must be confronted if the anti-immigrant resurgence is to be turned back. At an April 2007 antiimmigrant rally sponsored by FAIR, L.A. talk radio host Reverend Terry Anderson told the crowd, “We’ve got to make it in this country so [immigrants] can’t exist here….We’ve got to rattle their teeth and put their feet to the fire.”50

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Summer 2008
Vol. 23, No. 2 :



End Notes

1 Leonard Zeskin, “Immigration and language, race and nation,” Searchlight magazine, July 2006.

2 Mike Huckabee speech to Values Voters Summit, authors’ recording.

3 FRC The Washington Briefing, 2007, compact disc recording, disc 1.

4 Carolyn Lochhead, “Immigration debate splits Christian Right,” San Francisco Chronicle, April 28, 2006.

5 In May of that year, presidential advisor Karl Rove hosted a briefing for such groups as the National Association of Evangelicals, Concerned Women for America, the Institute for Religion and Democracy, and the Southern Baptist Convention. “Evangelicals Tight lipped on Immigration,” Associated Press, May 19, 2006.

6 National Association of Evangelicals Resolution on Immigration, October 12, 2006.

7 Latinos and the Midterm Election (Washington, D.C.: Pew Hispanic Center, November 2006).

8 Charles Hurt, “Immigration debate gets religious,” Washington Times, January 8, 2007.

9 Gregory A. Smith, “Attitudes Toward Immigration: In the Pulpit and the Pew,” April 26, 2006.

10 “Survey Results: Value Voters Immigration Survey,” Family Research Council, April 11, 2006.

11 Mary Lou Pickel, “Illegal Immigration Polarizes Christians,” Atlanta Journal-Constitution, August 10, 2005, 1F.

12 See Michael Roston, “Zell Miller: Abortion has shrunk our military, hurt social security, caused illegal immigration,” The Raw Story; Michael Roston, “Tom DeLay tells College Republicans that abortion, illegal immigration are linked,” The Raw Story,; “Colson called abortion “the root of the“ illegal immigrant “problem”, Media Matters for America.

13 Roberto Lovato, “Becoming Americano: The Ascent of the New Latino Right,” The Public Eye magazine, Spring 2007.

14 Richard A. Viguerie, “Bush’s Base Betrayal,” Washington Post,May 21, 2006, B01.

15 Rebecca Sinderbrand, “Miranda’s Plight: A GOP Operative Fights On,” Washington Monthly, July 4, 2007.

16 “FRC Action to Rally Values Voters Ahead of ’08 Election,” press release, 4/9/081.

17 Sara Diamond, “Organizing Against Immigrants,” Social Justice, Fall 1996, vol. 23, no. 3, p.154 (15)

18 Frederick Clarkson, “History is Powerful: Why the Christian Right Distorts History and Why it Matters,” The Public Eye magazine, Spring 2007.

19 United States Census Department, Foreign-Born Population in the United States: March 2000, American Community Survey, Percent of People Who Are Foreign Born: 2006.

20 Douglas Brugge, “Pulling up the ladder,” Defending Immigrant Rights: An Activist Resource Kit (Somerville, Mass.: Political Research Associates, 2002).

21 American Community Survey, Percent of People Who Are Foreign Born: 2006.

22 See, for instance, Noel Ignatiev, How the Irish Became White (NY: Routledge, 1996); and Matthew Frye Jacobson, Whiteness of a Different Color (Boston: Harvard University Press, 1998).

23 Jean Hardisty, Mobilizing Resentment (Boston: Beacon Press, 1999). 24Max Blumenthal, “Theocracy Now,” Huffington Post, October 29, 2007. Video clips of Gaffney’s presentation available online here.

25 Samuel P. Huntington, The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order (New York: Touchstone, 1997); Chip Berlet & Pam Chamberlain, Running Against Sodom and Osama: The Christian Right, Values Voters, and the Culture Wars in 2006 (Somerville,Mass.: Political Research Associates 2006).

26 Steve King, “Illegal Immigration Threatens America’s Future,” Sioux City Journal, September 19, 2005.

27 Colin Hanna, “Southern Strategy: Fence at the Border,” October 7, 2005.

28 Rick Swartz, who founded the liberal National Immigration Forum, considers Tanton the movement’s “puppeteer,” noting that, “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.” “The Puppeteer,” Intelligence Report, Summer 2002.

29 Memo available online.

30 Defending Immigrant Rights: An Activist Resource Kit (Somerville, Mass.: Political Research Associates, 2002), 9.

31 Heidi Beirich and Mark Potok, “Broken Record,” Intelligence Report,Winter 2005.

32 Defending Immigrant Rights: An Activist Resource Kit, 10.

33 The Southern Poverty Law Center recently listed FAIR as a “hate group.”

34 Defending Immigrant Rights: An Activist Resource Kit (passim); Statement of James Robb to the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims, March 24, 1998.

35 Nativism in the House: A Report on the House Immigration Reform Caucus, (Chicago: Center for New Community, September 2007).

36 On the Sierra Club campaign, see Tarso Luís Ramos, “No Borders to Justice,” Western States Center News, Spring 1998.

37 Barbara Coe, leader of the prominent California group Save our State, regularly refers to Latino immigrants as “savages.”

38 This “breeder” imagery even extends to the debate over driver licenses which, in the hands of of unauthorized immigrants are said to be “breeder documents.” See, for instance, American Patrol.

39 Since his election to Congress in 1996 Cannon has consistently received a 100% score from the National Right to Life Committee. For NRLC’s 109th Congress scorecard.

40 Transcript of House Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security, and Claims hearing, “How Would Millions of Guest Workers Impact Working Americans and Americans Seeking Employment?” March 24, 2004.

Lee Davidson, “Cannon targets his foes,” Deseret Morning News, March 25, 2004.

41 Chip Berlet, Mitra Rastegar, and Pam Chamberlain, “Nativism,” The Public Eye magazine, Fall 2001. On “Christian Nativism,” see Michelle Goldberg, Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism, and Alexander Zaitchik, “‘Christian’ Nativism,” Intelligence Report, Winter 2006.

42 According to her online biography, Pulido spent ten months during 1999 serving as a missionary at Instituto Ministerial-El Calvario in Nuevo Leon, Mexico.

43 Recording available online.

44 Memo available online.

45 Edward Sifuentes, “Anti-illegal Immigrant Activists Eye Fallbrook Church,” North County Times, July 7, 2007.

46 Elena Gaona, “Day-labor protesters accused of bigotry,” San Diego Union Tribune, July 11, 2007.

47 Cutler’s presentation as described by a CWA spokesperson: “CWA of CA Culture Conference Focuses on Culture War, Illegal Immigration,” February 8, 2008.

48 Bob Moser, “White Heat,” The Nation, August 28, 2006.

49 Roberto Lovato, “Far From Fringe: Minutemen Mobilizes Whites Left Behind by Globalization,”The Public Eye, v.19, no. 3, Winter 2005; Devin Burghart, “Do it Yourself Cops,” The Public Eye, v.19, no. 3, Winter 2005; Moser.

50 Hold Their Feet to the Fire Rally video.

51 Defending Immigrant Rights: An Activist Resource Kit; Statement of James Robb to the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims, March 24, 1998.


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