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February 13, 2013

Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX) Named Head of House Immigration Reform Caucus

Representative Ted Poe (R-TX) announced on February 7, 2013, that he will chair the House Immigration Reform Caucus (IRC). The immigration restrictionist replaces outgoing chairman Brian Bilbray, who lost his seat in California in November 2012. Founded in 1999 by former Colorado Rep. Tom Tancredo, IRC is the main block of immigration restrictionists in the House.  It is very closely aligned with the anti-immigrant movement.

Poe’s views closely align with the anti-immigrant movement. The Beltway-based anti-immigrant group NumbersUSA give Poe an “A” grade for his voting record on immigration, which indicates that his record is in line with their ideology. In 2010, Poe signed onto an amicus brief in support of Arizona’s SB1070 law, drafted by the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI), the legal arm of the DC-based anti-immigrant group Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR).  Poe has attended FAIR’s annual “Hold Their Feet to the Fire” radio event in Washington, D.C. The event brings radio hosts to Washington to broadcast live and interview anti-immigrant activists and restrictionist politicians. On November 19, 2009, Poe participated in a forum with other members of the House Judiciary Committee entitled “American Jobs in Peril: The Impact of Uncontrolled Immigration.” Speakers included Roy Beck, president of NumbersUSA, and Jerry Kammer and Steven Camarota of the anti-immigrant think-tank Center for Immigration Studies (CIS).

The February 7, 2013 press release also announced the members of the IRC Executive Committee: Diane Black (R-TN), Bill Flores (R-TX), Phil Gingrey (R-GA) and Lamar Smith (R-TX). All four Executive Committee members have “A” grades from NumbersUSA.  Lamar Smith and Phil Gingrey have close ties to the anti-immigrant movement. During his tenure as chair of the House Judiciary Committee, Smith invited many prominent members of the anti-immigrant movement to testify on immigration issues. Gingrey and Smith are also regulars at FAIR’s “Hold Their Feet to the Fire” event. Both men received donations from the U.S. Immigration Reform PAC in the past. Mary Lou Tanton, the wife of racist John Tanton, the founder of the modern-day anti-immigrant movement, runs the PAC.

The Poe press release stated that IRC currently has 58 members, although 77 people who were previously IRC members won re-election in 2012. It is unclear why so many IRC members decided to leave the Caucus, but some may want to distance themselves from the anti-immigrant movement now that immigration reform has become more acceptable to both political parties. IRC’s previous two chairs, Bilbray and Tom Tancredo, a former representative from Colorado, both lost elections, perhaps in part due to their restrictionist views on immigration. It remains to be seen how Poe’s new position will impact voters in his district.

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July 13, 2012

Anti-Immigrant Political Action Committee Sees Rise in Contributions for 2012 Election Cycle

US Immigration Reform PAC, a political action committee whose purpose is to “reduce immigration” and “secure our nation’s borders,” has seen a sharp increase in contributions for the 2012 election cycle. The PAC’s president is Mary Lou Tanton, the spouse of John Tanton, the architect of the modern day anti-immigrant movement in the United States. 

According to the website Open Secrets, which tracks federal campaign contributions, US Immigration Reform PAC’s total receipts for 2012 to date are over $14,500 with almost four months to go before Election Day. While this figure is relatively low, it is up almost ten-fold from the last election cycle, where the PAC only received a little over $1500 in total receipts. In the 2012 cycle, US Immigration Reform PAC has donated $2500 to congressional candidates, so far.
 
Open Secrets also lists individual donors who have given $200 or more to the PAC. Among the donors for 2012 is Sharon Barnes, a longtime board member of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), an extreme anti-immigration group that was founded by John Tanton in 1979. Barnes, who has donated $300 to date, formerly sat on the editorial advisory board of Tanton’s anti-immigrant journal, The Social Contract. Another contributor of over $200 is John Rohe, who, along with his wife, donated a combined $500 to the PAC for the 2012 election cycle. Rohe is a good friend of John and Mary Lou Tanton, even penning the couple’s biography, which was published in 2002. Rohe is also the Vice President of Philanthropy at the Colcom Foundation, an organization that donates millions of dollars to anti-immigrant groups each year.
 
It is no surprise that US Immigration Reform PAC’s contributions are up since immigration is a hot-button issue in the 2012 election cycle. The four congressional candidates that the PAC has donated to thus far in 2012 are Lou Barletta (R-PA), Paul Broun (R-GA), Steve King (R-IA) and Allen West (R-FL). 
 

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