A Look Back at FAIR

fair-logoSeveral years ago, I worked for a small non-profit in DC called FAIR (Federation for American Immigration Reform). I thought it was a typical conservative group wanting secure borders, enforcement of immigration laws, etc. – and, for the most part, that’s what it was. I was brought in to manage the Web team (my first management job). I thought I did a good job of leading the team, launching the Immigration Reform blog, and reducing costs of my department by 30% (by moving over to free, open-source platforms, eliminating waste, etc.).

The actual work was fine. I enjoyed it, and I enjoyed the people in the office. However, there were two things that I hated: the 2-hour commute each way and the business attire. If you’ve ever worked with me, you’ll know that those are now the two biggest factors in any job offer I accept (short commutes and casual dress).

After several months, the long commutes were killing me. I was also finding that I didn’t necessarily share the same ideology as the FAIR organization. I was all for immigration law enforcement – heck, why do we have laws if we don’t enforce them? Rule of law was important to me. But, as a Christian, so was grace. And I didn’t see any grace coming from FAIR. To me, the son of an immigrant father, I would like to see laws obeyed, but also grace (a simple path to citizenship) for immigrants who are persecuted and are looking to achieve and earn a better life in America. FAIR’s hard line against illegal immigrants didn’t always sit well in my gut.

After about six months working there (and the toll of the 4-hour daily commute), I was offered another job close to my house at AOL. It was a no-brainer. I accepted.

I haven’t thought much about FAIR since leaving, though I knew they would be pleased with the election of President Trump and all that he’s done since taking office. When I heard that former FAIR executive director Julie Kirchner was joining Trump’s administration, I was very pleased for her. Julie is a nice, mild-mannered person, who I enjoyed interacting with. Of all the people I regretted leaving, Julie was at the top of the list. I wish her all the best.

This morning, I read an incredibly in-depth feature article on FAIR (prompted by Julie’s recent appointment). While the article is obviously slanted against FAIR (and cites the similarly slanted Southern Poverty Law Center and its bogus “hate group” label), the article reveals the origins of FAIR and its founder John Tanton.

Article exerpt:

“Tanton was a radical environmentalist, though he worked with mainstream environmental groups like the Sierra Club. His environmentalism coincided with a keen interest in population control; he founded local chapters of Planned Parenthood and served as the president of Zero Population Growth, a group that pushes to make contraceptives and abortion services more accessible.”

Had I known the background of FAIR’s founder, I would not have worked at FAIR. I am completely against abortion (except when the mother’s life is physically in danger) and all forms of eugenics. I think population issues from unwanted pregnancies are a symptom of a society that normalizes extra-marital sex and doesn’t promote abstinence. You fix society’s view on sex, and you don’t have an abortion problem.

So, the eugenics background of FAIR’s founder (surprisingly driven by environmentalism) would have been a deal-breaker for me, while FAIR’s views on immigration, for the most part, were not. Let’s hope, as the group gains more exposure and influence in this country, they’ve left much of its founder’s ideology in the past.