Politics & Policy

UnFAIR

I first met Linda Chavez when she worked for U.S. English in 1987. She shared offices with us, and was intimately familiar with the organization, its board and its policies. Though she stated she opposed limits on immigration, she never raised any objections to FAIR’s operations, the politics of its board or members or its donors.

Later she overreacted to a reporter’s question, and decided to resign in a hysterical fit, interpreting materials written by a board member for his own use in a private meeting in a manner most prejudicial to him and the organization she represented at the time, U.S. English.

Now, having lost a race for Senate and undergone a tortuous, failed nomination for Secretary of Labor, Chavez is now reduced to political commentator and gadfly. So she wants to attack FAIR for its role in the immigration-policy debate, apparently blaming us for her political misfortunes.

I think this is unfortunate. Chavez seems no different than the Southern Poverty Law Center — she is an enemy of intellectual freedom trying to control debate and discussion through intimidation. The immigration issue is complex and emotional, and it is ill-served by ad hominem namecalling.

FAIR represents the best in American politics. Unaffiliated with, and unburdened by partisan party affiliations, FAIR exists solely on the strength of ideas and the generosity of the American people. FAIR’s broad base and open tent serves as a storehouse for diverse and innovative thinking on the immigration issues. We enjoy broad support and attract people from all across the political spectrum — a strength that the intolerant Chavez would denounce as a weakness. She seems to think it a misfortune when people collaborate from many perspectives to work on a problem. Destructively, she insists that the views of anyone supporting the organization be reflective of the collateral views of everyone associated with FAIR (regardless of how distant these views may be from the immigration issue).

FAIR does not hide its roots in the population and environmental movement. We are all proud of our pedigree and consider ourselves to have been blessed over many years to associate with some of the 20th-century’s finest thinkers. At one time, she knew and worked with many of these same people. Now Chavez takes a gleeful pleasure in caricaturing these thoughts and ideas as she willfully misrepresents a wide range of facts and opinions. This is bad faith. Be warned: form an alliance with Chavez at your peril.

Dan Stein

President

Federation for American Immigration Reform

Washington, D.C.

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