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Utah Republican AG Derides ‘Help’ From Nativist Organization

By Mark Potok on January 27, 2012 - 1:26 pm, Posted in Nativist Extremist

It’s long been something of a mystery how conservative Republicans can expect to keep winning elections when so many of them spend their time dissing Latinos, a critical and rapidly growing portion of the electorate. Indeed, many Latino rights organizations argue persuasively that it was Latino voters who took Barack Obama over the top in the 2008 presidential election.

But that hasn’t stopped large numbers of conservative leaders, perhaps even the majority, from embracing anti-Latino rhetoric, activists and organizations. A case in point is how many of these politicians have gotten into bed with the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) and its legal arm, the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI). IRLI, its chief legal counsel Michael Hethmon and another lawyer, Kris Kobach, have been behind the vast majority of recent, draconian anti-immigrant laws, including those in Arizona and, worst of all, Alabama.

Yesterday, one Republican seemed to break with the pack.

According to the Salt Lake Tribune, Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff, even as he defended his state’s somewhat less harsh law in court, derisively dismissed a friend-of-the-court brief filed by IRLI. Shurtleff said the 34-page brief could actually be “harmful” to the state’s defense, and he told the paper that he called IRLI and left a “terse” message for Hethmon. “The attorneys I assigned to handle the case are highly qualified experts,” he said. “We do not need the support of IRLI.”

No kidding. There’s a reason the Southern Poverty Law Center has listed FAIR as a hate group. In fact, there are quite a lot of reasons.

FAIR’s president, Dan Stein, has said that the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 — which overturned a racist 1924 act that President Lyndon Johnson correctly described as “un-American in the highest sense” — was a form of “revengism” by those who wanted to “retaliate against Anglo-Saxon dominance.” He has warned that immigrants are engaged in “competitive breeding.” He led the group’s efforts to land $1.2 million from the Pioneer Fund, a hate group started by Nazi sympathizers in 1937 to study race and intelligence. FAIR’s founder, John Tanton, has said that if the borders aren’t closed, the United States will be overrun by people “defecating and creating garbage and looking for jobs.” He’s warned of a “Latin onslaught” and complained of Latinos’ “low educability.” He has said America needs “a European-American majority, and a clear one at that.” He has corresponded with Holocaust deniers, hard-line white nationalists and even a Ku Klux Klan lawyer.

And that’s only the beginning.

IRLI, for its part, has left a swath of misery everywhere it goes. In the wake of passing IRLI-drafted laws and local ordinances, communities have been torn apart racially and economically, lost round after round in court, and spent fortunes in legal fees — one town even had to raise taxes to defend its IRLI-backed ordinance.

Mark Shurtleff seemed to see the threat to his party early on. Last October, he told a Salt Lake City immigration summit that it was too late for the GOP. “The party has lost those [Latino] voters,” he said. “They’re aren’t in danger [of losing them] – we’ve lost them.”

But Shurtleff’s latest implied criticism of xenophobes and nativists yesterday kicked up a small storm. Hethmon told the Salt Lake paper that Shurtleff’s defense of Utah’s law was “weak.” Hethmon added: “We suspect Mr. Shurtleff would personally be glad to see the law nullified and that he views any public debate on this point as a threat to his image as a political kingmaker in state politics.”

The contentious Mark Hethmon might not like Shurtleff’s attitude and be willing to attack him publicly for rejecting IRLI’s “help.” But Shurtleff is not alone in his party, and those who agree with him are not all “treason lobby” liberals.

ThinkProgress, a blog published by a liberal-leaning think tank, yesterday asked former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush — hardly a liberal — about the nativist politics now seen so frequently in the GOP. Stating the obvious, Bush said that “Hispanic voters hear these debates and see the ramifications of the Alabama law and other things like that and get turned off.” Later, he added that “from a practical point of view, putting aside policy, it makes no sense to me that we are sending these signals.’

But perhaps IRLI and FAIR aren’t trying to make sense. Perhaps, as all the evidence seems to suggest, they are driven by simple xenophobia and nothing more.

  • ruben

    leroy you lived in mexico but you obviously know nothing about mexican people….and yes we are mestizo as you state and are proud of our indio heritage…what difference does it make if you do not know what native american tribe you descend from….many blacks in the the u.s cannot tell you what tribe from africa they come from but does that make them anyless black?….many white americans also do not know what areas from europe some of there ancestors come from but does that make them any less european…whats your point?….many of the natives on the u.s side of north america can tell you for certain what tribe they belong to because they were rounded up and forced segregated in reservations so they kept there identity intact….this did not happen in mexico because most of the people there are either pureblood or mestizo thw whole country would have been put in reservations… are not very bright you agree that 90 percent of mexicans are mestizo (native american/european mix)and then you ask the dumb question that you yourself answered that how do i know that we are native to this land….and another thing if you think that the catholic church is the only religion in mexico you truly do not know what you are talking about there are protestants.jehovahs witness,jews, and those mormons that you are talking about…my mother in law is pure india from the mountains in durango and the mormons own just about every business in all the villages around the area that she is from!….but you lived in mexico for 4 years and now you know more than someone who has been going there all his life.

  • Sam Molloy

    My philosophy is, if they come here to work and don’t bring their stupid religious prejudices about gender rules, Mexicans, Muslims, and Martians are more welcome than Evangelical Crackers. I do think we are going to need a pipeline from Innuit land with water more than sandy oil or oily sand or whatever Keystone is supposed to bring.

  • Leroy

    I lived in Mexico for more than three years. You want to talk about a racist country.
    Mexicans in Mexico don’t like anyone except other Mexicans.
    Ask the people from Central America that try to travel through Mexico on their way to the U.S.A.
    They are mistreated by the Mexican government.
    When illegals are caught in Mexico, they are thrown in cells with no food or blankets. When I was in Mexico, the embassies of Lebanon and Germany provided food and blankets to illegals from El Salvadore and Guatamala that were passing through Mexico and were arrested after the Mexican cops robbed and beat them on their way to jail.
    Ruben says his people are native to North America, really, how does he know.
    Over ninty percent of Mexicans are Mestizos (mixed blood). The majority of Mexicans that I know can not tell you where their European ancestors came from or what native tribe they came from either.
    He says Mexicans are Christians. Their is only one group of Christians in Mexico and they are Catholics.
    Catholics in Mexico have little respect for any other religions. Just ask Mormons or other religious groups that send missionaries to Mexico.
    As a non citizen of Mexico, try protesting their government. Non citizens get deported the first time they say anything negative about Mexico.
    There are two main reasons that 15 million Mexicans are living in the United States. The Mexican government and the Catholic church.
    Those two institutions are destroying what could be a beautiful country.

  • Deep Ecology

    Reuben, we are in agreement that the Republican Party has too much baggage working against it to ever appeal to any ethnic or minority group. It’s demographic has strong appeal to middle and upper income white voters, who have a stake in the corporate-capitalist state and a strong personal conservative social values orientation.

    As a long time academic interested in the evolution of the nation-state, man-environment interaction and human cultural geography and the impact of migration, it always surprises me that few people truly understand the post 1965 immigration wave that is impacting our culture and politics.

    Most of my students are surprised to learn of the strong business influence on encouraging and sustaining immigration, legal or otherwise. Many understand and believe that the social justice argument is and was the justification for lax enforcement of immigration, but in fact, large corporate business interests and their lobby have heavily influenced the enforcement of immigration laws. They seek out and need cheap labor as the only way to increase the bottom line and compete with overseas labor costs. Middle class whites however see the changing of the demographic as threatening to their communities and culture and lobby hard against immigration, legal or illegal. The Republican Party is working hard to balance these two competing forces and will swing back and forth depending on who can marshall the most influence at any given moment.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    I wouldn’t give too much credence to this “Balkanization” nonsense. The people peddling that don’t understand much about the Balkans and don’t understand the profound differences between those countries and the US.

  • ruben

    deep ecology….as a person of mexican decent i can tell you that most latinos are christian and conservative…we still go to church and we have mostly strong family values….i cannot speak for other minorities but the reason most latinos especially those of mexican decent will not vote republican is the fact that they love to mix racism with there politics….and you are right about the enviroment….and who is destroying it!….billion dollar companies that are run mostly by white men who identify with the republican party but as you say to take the heat off themselves they will scapegoat the weakest and blame them for all that is wrong with the country….and again the white right wing of the republican party are masters at this…….and the truth can be spoken if it were spoken truthfully without pointing fingers and distorting the facts….the minute the europeans set foot on this continent the destruction of this land began they new greed all to well…all the forests clear cut,strip mining the land…pushing animals to the brink of extinction polluting the rivers and oceans and its still going on look at the bp disaster all in the name of greedy profit…..but they have a good strategy lets blame the immigrants its there fault many of them are illegal and can’t defend themselves against these accusations,its a perfect target….but they are cutting there own throats for every illegal person of latino decent there are 20 that are u.s citizens that vote!…and sooner or later they will need us especially if they want to keep this nation christian and we will remember the racist propaganda that they aimed at us but it will be too late.. most of the damage done by the racist wing of the republican party will be irreversible.

  • Dan

    More Balkanization. It will not end well. It never does. Teh US may well fracture into three or four ethnic groups. The reaction of the host is inevitably going to be very rough and unpleasant in such circumstances.

    Speaking of which, my kids are part Apache and Mexican on their mom’s side.

  • Deep Ecology

    Lots of observations to make here:
    1. The Republican Party will be unsuccessful at broadening its voter base from middle class whites to ethnic minorities. So what do they have to lose?
    2. The Democratic Party will easily and with little effort maintain strong voter support in ethnic and minority populations. So why do they care?
    Strange to perceptive observers but apparently not the vast majority of the electorate, not much significant change seems to come with the changing of party control of either the Congress or Presidency. Why this is true is because we have entered the age of the Managerial State, an inevitable by product of the progress toward it advocated philosophically, the world-wide triumph of neo-liberalism post Soviet collapse, and technology.

    Different political parties provide a nice fiction that real choice exists, but make no mistake, the bureacratic managers rule, and they don’t thrive in chaos or dramatic upheaval. Hence, the Presidential candidate upon winning looks and acts a lot like the former holder of the office. It is a convenient fiction that we all adhere to, or “democracy” would really be seen without clothes.

    It has to be said and bears repeating: Lots of “environmental” movements are smoke screens for nativism or racism. However disengenuous their motives, the continued growth of the United States threatens the environment, and it is growth, the pressure on finite resources and the loss of vital wild areas that poses the most immediate threat. Continued immigration versus our current fertility rate is our only current source of population growth. Their motives are masked but the truth of this fact remains. It is tragic that the issue cannot be spoken of without the PC and social justice argument overwhelming the science.

  •, Aron


    No, but obviously you haven’t read the SPLC’s intel report on the group. The evidence is right there. Go do your own research.

    (It comes down to the fact that FAIR won’t stop attacking immigrants with statements based upon lies, lies, and more lies.)

  • Red


    Okay then, so you don’t have to commit a hate crime to be labeled a hate group.

    It’s all about rhetoric.

    What’s the rhetoric that FAIR has used which qualifies it as a hate group?

    Has FAIR, as part of their official group statements, advocated committing hate crimes against various groups they don’t like?

  • Aron


    Just because FAIR hasn’t committed a hate crime does not preclude them from membership in that esteemed company. Rhetoric. It’s all about rhetoric.

    Since they have never committed a hate crime, would you not consider the Westboro Baptist Church a hate group? Use your noodle.

  • Red

    Hmm… FAIR… Another organization labeled a hate group by the SPLC for saying stuff deemed “hate groupy,” I guess.

    Or is this article neglecting to report some sort – any sort – of incident where FAIR committed a hate crime?

    No? Didn’t think so.

  • ModerateMike

    Well, I think what you think, IThink! :)

    But explaining the limitations of the executive branch has been small solace to those who face deportation; when I have given a similar lecture, the response is usually along the lines of, “Well, if the President understood that he couldn’t implement immigration reform without Congress, why did he make promises that he wasn’t sure he could keep?” Sure, you and I understand that the President has been stymied by Congress, and that he had every reason to believe that comprehensive reform was a real possibility given the makeup of Congress in 2008. But for the people most likely to be hurt by the current policies, results are the only thing that matters. I hope that people aren’t discouraged from the polls.

  • Mitch Beales

    Jason is engaged in a personal crusade to prove that African Americans and Latinos are not the only ones who have been victimized by America’s abysmal public education.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    Hold on, Jason, you’re and environmentalist now? Then what was with all that anti-Communism and Holocaust denial?

  • ruben

    to shadow wolf….let me tell you something we WE LATINOS VOTE!….that is another stereotype that we do not care…we are just not loud and in your face about it but we are definitely aware of who are our friends and who are our enemies politically….just look at gingrich and romney how all of a sudden they are trying to court the latino vote,they know that with out us they have little chance of being elected president…and with every election that goes by our political strength is just going to grow….it amazes me how the gop with there misguided information has managed to convince large segments of mostly white but also other people that people of latino and mostly mexican decent are some kind of newcomers or outsiders to this land…but the fact is that our ancestors have been here for thousands of years we are native to north america….but there will always be hate in this world and hate always needs a target.

  • Shadow Wolf

    Although, it may seem pointless to address Mr. Jason Smith. And this is my first to him:

    If you’re claiming to be an “Environmentalist” of sorts. Then you should be thanking YOUR current Commander in Chief–President Obama for his latest victory on protecting the environment. This, after numerous Native Nations, including Tribal activists as well as actress Daryl Hannah among others, were successful in getting Obama to help stop Canada’s oil pipeline contruction (Keystone XL):

    Mr. Jason Smith, you sir, should be thanking the Native Americans for their endless struggle in helping to protect the environment. You should be praising the Indigenous Peoples. Simply put it, if the atrocious Republicans had it their way. They would allow the Keystone XL pipeline to go forth and wreak havoc on the environment, and pollute our drinking waters from Texas coast straight into Canada. You would also be affected, since the drinking water isn’t limited to Natives, but everyone who drinks water in the Midwest U.S.

  • ruben

    i am of mexican decent and i can tell you that i have never defecated in public, i always throw my trash in the dumpster and even separate the items that can be recycled …..amazing ain’t it jason smith!….but i guess ignorant people always have a hard time with racial stereotypes….and for your dumb information there are more americans living in mexico then in any other foreign country….and why would anybody be arrested in mexico?….could it possibly be that you are committing something illegal that you would also be arrested in the u.s if you committed the same crime.and since when has being arrested in the u.s or any other country been a picnic moron!…i vote and have many family members that vote and we all vote democrat….even though we are largely christian and conservative.but at this point the republican party has so turned off most latino people with there racist scapegoating politics that it is going to be a long…long time before we even think of casting a vote for that disgusting bigoted political party.

  • Sam Molloy

    The Latino community is very diverse and, supposedly, Cubans tend to be Conservative and Puerto Ricans, Liberal. Obama has been a disappointment to the Undocumented, and a lot of others, but the Republicans seem to be in a contest to see who can be the most unappealing.

  • IThink

    “Jason Smith said,
    ON JANUARY 27TH, 2012 AT 5:46 PM
    Why no reciprocity? If 20 million Mexicans have come to America illegally, why can’t 20 million Americans move to Mexico illegally?
    Did you know that for an American to retire in Mexico there are all kinds of rules? You have to prove you have a certain amount of money in investments in Mexico, and Americans can’t own property. It’s very hard to become a citizen. It’s a long process. Americans can’t just move to Mexico and live there. There are Federal Police, the Policía Federal Preventiva. Being arrested in Mexico is no picnic. You think you will have the same civil rights as in America? Mexican prisons are notorious.”

    Right, because the U.S. really has their crap together as far as ‘notorious’ prisons & jails. Aren’t we the place where more executions happen anywhere in the world per year, except for China? Aren’t the sizable majority of those who perish on death row later exonerated on DNA testing or were persecuted on dubious evidence in the first place? And yeah, their minorities that make up the greatest number locked up there, blacks and Hispanics and even many whites for the most marginal infractions usually for drugs…
    And speaking of drugs, did you know the U.S. funds and purchases about three quarters of more of the drug trade from Mexico? It seems Americans only want to complain about a faux-Latino ‘takeover’ when they don’t even want to pay full price for weed, crack or even make it for their lazy selves domestically! Now what would happen if the U.S. curtailed those drug Lords production and removed them from Mexican political system? Competent leaders, better trade and middle-class mobility options, and a thriving agricultural industry? You betcha! Than they wouldn’t need to so desperately cross the border in a life or death scenario to live. Americans are simply to blinded by their privilege and opportunities to even attempt empathy with foreigners and non-domestic deep poverty; Nevermind if it is the U.S. itself who directly contributes to or even causes the international problems that result in immigrants and illegals trying to shove their way in. Because we all know America simply can’t do ANY wrong, and it’d be anti-American and terroristic to suggest otherwise!

  • IThink

    ModerateMike Said:
    “I cannot speak for Latino citizens, but many of my friends are Latino immigrants, and although they cannot vote, they have all told me how disappointed they are with Obama and the Democrats. Is it any wonder, given how many people have been deported as a result of the so-called “Secure Communities” program, and the inability of the pre-2011 Senate to pass the Dream Act? If Latino voters have similar opinions, they may very well decide not to vote at all in the next election. The Republicans don’t necessarily need to woo Latino voters in order to win elections; they only need to convince them that the Democrats are no better.”

    That may be true to some extent Mike, but remember that the vast majority of Obama’s policies that have actually passed into law have been significantly to the Right of why most Americans voted for him in the first place, or at least dubiously centrist in a moment where unabashedly liberal resolutions are needed (i.e. FDR’s New Deal during the Great Depression & WWII or LJ’s Great Society during the counterculture, Civil Rights, and Vietnam catastrophes of the 60’s). Not to mention, he has faced nothing but gridlocked, hyper-reactionary opposition from the Republicans and the Tea Party from the moment he uttered his campaign for POTUS, let alone all that he did afterwards. That’s not to say he hasn’t mad some honest to goodness missteps but its really the grace of a higher power he’s been able to get done what he has, and that America is still standing and functioning as is, with virtual no thanks to the opposition who pride themselves as putting “country before party,” or a faux-version of it, which is manifest nonsense.
    Watching the hell he and the rest of us went though trying to raise a debt ceiling for THE FIRST TIME that he didn’t create (when Baby Bush did it 6 times, Clinton I think 4 or so, Bush Sr. I can’t remember, but Reagan 17x!!!) ought to send Americans a crystal clear message. Yeah he’s done his part in keeping our borders PLENTY secure, better than all his predecessors, but it was still the Republicans and these Yellow Dog Democrats who filibustered and killed of his DREAM Act. Obama’s given them everything they could possibly want and so much more in terms of this immigration reform, but Republicans and Tea Partiers continue to harbor the bigots, white supremacists, nativists and other fringe activists, groups, and super PACs that are scared of anything with a darker flesh tone, regardless of how irrational that fear may be.
    In short, I think its THE OTHER way around, in that all Democrats have to say is that the Republicans are no better this point, and for those that are paying attention, that truth cannot be more apparent. A vote for one of the GOP chain of fools running right now is literally a vote against everything our country and democracy was founded upon, really!

  •, Aron


    Who here has said they want to retire to Mexico? While you were once comical in your bombast, you have now grown tiresome and old.

    Might be time to unhitch the horses, hombre…

  • Shadow Wolf

    Latinos by contrast,(depending on geographical locations) have the power to overturn each political party’s legislation. Should the latino find such laws extremely biased against them. They also have the power to recall a rabid politician and racist demagogues. Such was the case in Arizona, when Russell Pearce(the co-author of the notorious SB1070) became the first Senate President in Arizona’s history to be recalled.
    But unfortunately for latinos, most of them do not care to register to vote. Either because of the discriminatory practice of the voting process or lack of proper information to serve them.

  • Jason Smith

    For those of you who think I am a ‘racist,’ I suppose I could make the environmentalist argument. There are now 320 Million people in America. The Southwest USA has a limited water supply. All these immigrants require resources and have a carbon footprint. How many people can we sustain in America without harming the environment even more severely than we already are? 500 million? 1 Billion? At some threshold, a nation is unable to sustain quality of life for it’s citizens and the environment suffers. I am not a racist. I am a environmentalist. I care about preserving the beautiful, pristine nature we are blessed with and unique animal species. If 50 years from now there are 1 Billion people in America, our environment will surely deteriorate.

  • Reynardine

    I hate to say it, but compared to the current wave of Republican governors, Jeb is starting to look good.

  • Jason Smith

    Why no reciprocity? If 20 million Mexicans have come to America illegally, why can’t 20 million Americans move to Mexico illegally?

    Did you know that for an American to retire in Mexico there are all kinds of rules? You have to prove you have a certain amount of money in investments in Mexico, and Americans can’t own property. It’s very hard to become a citizen. It’s a long process. Americans can’t just move to Mexico and live there. There are Federal Police, the Policía Federal Preventiva. Being arrested in Mexico is no picnic. You think you will have the same civil rights as in America? Mexican prisons are notorious.

  • ModerateMike

    I cannot speak for Latino citizens, but many of my friends are Latino immigrants, and although they cannot vote, they have all told me how disappointed they are with Obama and the Democrats. Is it any wonder, given how many people have been deported as a result of the so-called “Secure Communities” program, and the inability of the pre-2011 Senate to pass the Dream Act? If Latino voters have similar opinions, they may very well decide not to vote at all in the next election. The Republicans don’t necessarily need to woo Latino voters in order to win elections; they only need to convince them that the Democrats are no better.

  • Aron

    The country will be ‘overrun by “people defecating…”‘? It must be horribly unpleasant to live in a nation where no one has a functioning digestive system.

    For that one fact alone, I pity John Tanton. For everything else, I simply deride him.