The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.

FAIR Misleads Sheriffs, Says ‘Border School’ OK’d by Feds

By Leah Nelson on July 12, 2012 - 10:37 am, Posted in Anti-Immigrant, Nativist Extremist

The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), the anti-immigrant hate group behind draconian immigration enforcement laws in Arizona, Alabama and elsewhere, appears to have misled law enforcement officers about a training program it’s sponsoring in Texas, Hatewatch has learned.

In an invitation E-mailed to an unknown number of sheriffs earlier this month, FAIR wrote that its “border school” had been approved by the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area program (HIDTA), a program of the U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) that facilitates cooperation among local, state and federal law enforcement officials. A flier distributed by FAIR bears HIDTA’s official logo, and FAIR notes in the invitation that travel and lodging costs associated with the Sept. 21-22 event in El Paso “may be covered by your agency’s HIDTA funding.”

But a spokesperson for the ONDCP says that no approval has been granted.

“In no way is the ‘border school’ sanctioned, co-hosted, or endorsed by the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Program,” Rafael Lemaitre, ONDCP’s associate director for public affairs, told Hatewatch.

“Any use of the program’s logo to imply support for this conference is unacceptable, and the local HIDTA director has asked for this to be corrected as soon as possible,” Lemaitre said. “Additionally, at no time have any HIDTA training funds been requested or been approved for use in association with this conference.”

A spokesperson for FAIR did not immediately respond to a request seeking comment.

The conference’s lineup includes a raft of minor anti-immigrant celebrities.

One of them is Richard Valdemar, a retired Los Angeles sheriff who in 2005 mustered on the border with the armed vigilantes of the Minuteman Project and who has suggested that blacks, Latinos and labor unions are pushing California politicians to discriminate against whites. In a 2009 article for Police magazine, Valdemar wrote, “[M]y advice to cities, counties, states, and federal authorities is, if you don’t want vigilantes – do your friggin’ job.” In the same article, he listed among “non-criminal” vigilante groups Ranch Rescue, a border group the Southern Poverty Law Center successfully sued after two of its members assaulted, falsely imprisoned and threatened two Salvadoran migrants while patrolling a Texas ranch in 2003.

Also speaking is Paul Chabot, an anti-drug hardliner and failed GOP candidate for California’s state assembly who once claimed that proposals to legalize marijuana will result in “more illegals crossing our border to facilitate the ‘pot black market’ not less. Maybe that’s the grand plan the liberals have had in mind all along.”

Scheduled to give a tour of the border is Hudspeth County Sheriff Arvin West, a publicity hound who made national news in 2010 when he told farmers in a small Texas town near the border to arm themselves and again when he arrested Willie Nelson for possession of marijuana. Also presenting will be Zapata County Sheriff Sigi Gonzalez, who with West co-founded the Texas Border Sheriff’s Coalition (which is listed with FAIR, HIDTA, and another sheriff’s coalition as a sponsor of the conference); Donald Reay, the Texas Border Sheriff’s Coalition’s executive director; and Rusty Fleming, a filmmaker whose work is beloved by nativist extremist groups like the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps.

West and Gonzalez have worked with FAIR before. In 2006, they appeared together at an event sponsored by You Don’t Speak for Me!, which purports to be a grassroots collective of Latino anti-immigration activists but which is wholly engineered and funded by FAIR to deflect accusations of white racism.

FAIR has good reason to worry about being perceived as racist. Its leaders have longstanding ties to white supremacist groups and eugenicists. FAIR’s founder, John Tanton, has expressed his wish that America remain a majority-white population, and one of the group’s main goals is upending the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, which ended a decades-long, racist quota system that limited immigration mostly to northern Europeans. FAIR President Dan Stein has called the act a “mistake.”

September’s event, if it goes forward, will not be the first time this collection of speakers has gathered to conduct a border training. In June, Los Angeles’ HIDTA office reportedly co-sponsored a nearly identical conference in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. HIDTA’s spokesperson did not comment on the LA branch’s participation in this event, of which FAIR was not listed as a co-sponsor.

Similar conferences appear to have been held in 2009 and 2010. At that time, they were co-sponsored by the “Border Sheriff’s Posse,” an evangelical group whose stated objective was to “educate prayer leaders about the reality of war on the border” and “recruit intercessors to pray for the border.” Nearly all of the speakers scheduled to appear at FAIR’s September conference appeared at the evangelical posse’s trainings, where in 2010 they shared the stage with California Pastor Jim Garlow, a leader in the Proposition 8 campaign to ban gay marriage in California who once said that “Satan” is behind the “radical gay homosexual agenda.”

  • Guardian

    I know you would like to use your misguided, radical leftist opinions as a weapon to censor my logical, fact based views. But I understand, after all this is the only weapon you have left.

  • Reynardine

    Guardian, I doubt I did, but imagine whatever makes you happy, as long as you do it in private.

  • Guardian

    Thank you for making my point. We have enough on our plates dealing with the home grown nut cases and welfareaholics we already have. We sure don’t need to be importing terrorism and poverty from other countries.

  • Reynardine

    You’re right, Guardian, there are people who want to hurt us, like that American who just mowed down 71 casualties, living and dead included, in a movie theater in Aurora, and who appears to have modeled his M.O. on that of another mass murderer who vented his spleen on his countrymen to show how pissed off he was over illegal aliens.

  • Guardian

    I think it is an interesting concept “there is no such thing as illegal aliens.” In a perfect world people should be able to travel and migrate wherever they want, to come and go to whatever country they please, without borders and without distinction between separate countries.
    But the reality is, this is not a perfect world and people are not perfect. There are people who want to hurt us. There are people who want to come here just to take advantage of government programs. Some want to turn our country into something it was never meant to be. Let’s face it, if the Native Americans would have had immigration control, there may never have been a single Indian reservations or the ‘trail of tears’.
    I’m all for legal immigration, but we know who is coming in and out, and for what legitimate purpose, and who is going to be paying for their stay. There’s too much at stake to just open the doors. I wouldn’t do that at my home and we can’t do that to our country.

  • Tobias A. Weissman

    We are a nation founded by immigrants. Our Statue of Liberty on Bedlows Island right off Manhattan Island has an inscription “Come ye all that are heavy laden.” It doesn’t say, “Come ye all legal aliens who are heavy laden, and keep out Illegal aliens.” I have written this again and again, we are all aliens even the so-called American Indian who originally came from Siberia before history was even written. In the USA, there is no such thing as illegal aliens. Any alien who is proven to have broken a law, should be the only one to be deported to his/her country of origin.

  • Reynardine

    Damn straight, Buddy, they do…in one place in Central Florida, where the topography is so odd it looks like the surface of the lake is slanting and stuff rolls uphill. It’s an illusion, of course, but so is a lot of the stuff Hammerheads expound on.

  • Buddy Calvert

    You failed to add that the oranges roll uphill when they fall out of the wheelbarrow.

  • Guardian

    Well Moderate Mike,

    Once again you’ve missed the point of the original argument –‘FAIR wrote that its “border school” had been approved by the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area program (HIDTA), a program of the U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP). But a spokesperson for the ONDCP says that no approval has been granted.’ This being an unpopular issue for the Libs I can understand why ONDCP would deny it. But I guess this subject is not as exciting as debating illegal immigration, so if we must…

    By your reasoning if we just opened up the borders, that would cure our nation’s economic crisis, putting people back to work and pay off the national debt. Why stop there? Open the prison doors, they want to buy stuff too. And why not sell guns to terrorist…oh wait, Eric Holder already tried that. I know, I know that’s just silly, but that’s exactly my point.

    Here’s the reality. According to the report The Fiscal Burden of Illegal Immigration on U.S. Taxpayers, the $113 billion in outlays for services and benefits to illegal aliens and their families represents an average cost to US households of $1,117 a year. The federal government recoups about one-third of its share of the costs of illegal immigration in the form of taxes collected. States, which bear a much greater share of the costs, recoup a mere 5 percent of their expenditures from taxes paid by illegal aliens. That bottom line $113 billion a year, and growing makes our nation’s failure to control illegal immigration one of the largest preventable burdens borne by American taxpayers.

    Sure the government has beefed up the border patrol presence in the past 8 or 9 years, but it’s still failing. Failing to the point where individual states are forced to take matters into their own hands, only to be persecuted be their own government and threatened with law suits. Why the failure? Because there are far too many liberal government incentives available for illegal immigrant once they get here. Its’ is a dangerous game this administration is playing; putting our BP agents at risk on the border in a politically motivated show of force, while at the same time trying to appease their illegal immigrant voting base with incentives and free college educations here in the US.

    Have I elaborated enough?

  • Joseph