Immigration Reform Talk Show Marathon in Des Moines

I’ve known about this for a while and kept forgetting to mention it… and now it’s here (Thursday morning).  FAIR (Federation for American Immigration Reform) is sponsoring a 2-day talk show event (Des Moines Register article) in downtown Des Moines, IA (yes, my woods) at the Marriott Hotel.  22 Talk show hosts from around the country will be here for two days hosting their shows and presumably focusing on the topic of Immigration (although according to FAIR, the talk shows may discuss whatever they want).  There is some amount of controversy over this event.  It seems that mostly, those that want more open borders are trying to shut this event down.  FAIR has been targeted by these groups as being provocateurs of hate and bigotry.

The interesting item that came up last week as I was leaving town for vacation was a comment from the Iowa State Civil Rights Commission (a state agency that is responsible for ensuring that civil rights are protected in Iowa).  Alicia Claypool , who chairs the commission, said: “We don’t agree with their views that are demonizing immigrants, and we
don’t appreciate their coming to Iowa telling us what we should think
about immigrants,” and “We
will not stand quietly by as FAIR pushes its divisive and intolerant message from Iowa.” 

Jan Michelson at WHO Radio made the comment that he thought it ironic that the Civil Rights Commission was (apparently) considering constraining the rights of those that wished to discuss this topic.  (Jan’s show will be broadcast from this event… you can listen live from anywhere in the world by going to <a href=”,”>, and there should be link to listen live.  His show airs from 9:00 AM to 11:30 AM Central Time)

Like any other bloating government venture, it seems the Iowa Civil Rights Commission is desperate to find purpose so that it may continue to justify its existence.  I suspect they think they are within their purview because they want to protect immigrants from the evils of hate (I’m not a fan of asking police, judges and juries to read minds, by the way), but they are off base on this.  Any time we tell any group that they may not talk about something, we shred our perfectly good rights to pieces, and to no benefit at all.  The end of this path is always tyranny. 

This topic has become such an emotional one for us.  I believe there are a large number of people who think that we should abolish immigration quotas and loosen up the laws to let anyone in who wants to come here.  This is a very kind and noble gesture, but misplaced in my opinion.  When considering immigration, one must be thoughtful about infrastructure, jobs, steady growth (economic, infrastructure, housing, etc.), all in terms of need and capacity.  Also, we need to decide whether we are trying to build a place for all to simply come and live (because it’s the best place in the world to live), or a place to build and strengthen by prioritizing entry of the best, brightest, and strongest.  Or something in between.  We are no longer a nation of adventurers building a new society, we are the resulting society.  As we built, we needed to be intentional in planning, and this was quite obvious at the time.  Now, we still need to be intentional, but perhaps with a different priority structure.  And, that has been the case.  Today, we hang between sets of priorities that really need to be properly understood to establish policy.

The factors to consider that I mentioned above were all internal (within our country’s needs and operations).  Other factors need consideration as well, and we should find that foreign policy and immigration policy actually must work together.  There was a time when having large numbers of people enter our country was critical to successful growth.  Now, there is not so much need (except perhaps in the areas of less “desirable” work such as menial labor or are more remote, such as Alaska) within the US, and yet there are many who desire to come to America for a “better life”.  It certainly helps promote nationalistic pride to know that people want to come to America, but if we lack the need for more people, should we not find ways to help people around the world enjoy their lives where they are so that such a desire is not so strong?  Although I am not in favor of making cookie-cutter copies of the United States around the world, I do think that actively helping governments around the world improve conditions of poverty, develop stronger economies, and build governments that strengthen the society as a whole is a positive step toward promoting manageable balance with immigration.  I don’t think that the American system of government or economy is the only one that can be successful (although I wouldn’t want any other, but clearly the US form of democracy does not always fit others well), but I think we are smart enough to help other countries build solutions that work for their people effectively.

Clearly there is a lot to talk about in this arena.  Even though there are a lot of strong feelings on this topic (which, by the way, I share those feelings much of the time), much of the policy needs to be considered at a macro-level.  One area of policy that I think needs work (not macro-level) is deportation management.  This is where a lot of people see the pain that makes them want to tear down the system, and yet this is where we need to manage the highest risk areas: crime and terrorism. 

What do you think?

About the Author

Mr. Smith is the Publisher of The Conservative Reader. He is Partner/Owner of Ambrosia Web Technology as well as a Systems Architect for Wells Fargo. Art hold a degree in Computer Science from Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, and is a political blogger at the Des Moines Register. Art's views are purely his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Wells Fargo.


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  1. Darryl Warren | Dec 28, 2007 at 2:07 am | Reply

    Below is what I know about FAIR. More importantly why would any real conservative defend them?


    TANTON: Well, they were actually taken in 1978, to get ready for 1979. We [Federation for American Immigration Reform] got our tax ruling from the IRS in about August of 1978. We had arranged from some other contributions before that. One of the early contributions went to the ZPG Foundation [Zero Population Growth] and was subsequently re-donated to us when we finally got our IRS ruling. Pg. 29

    TANTON: I don’t remember the exact sequence now in which people joined me on the board [Federation for American Immigration Reform], but certainly Sherry Barnes was on of the very first people. Sherry had served with me on the ZPG [Zero Population Growth] executive committee, and I knew her quite well. She worked for Planned Parenthood in New York and was a free thinker who was able to deal with topics like immigration, unlike some of our other colleagues at ZPG. So she was key. Then there was Bill Paddock, who had been on the board at ZPG. He had left it by the time, but he understood our point of view. So that made three of us. Pg. 30

    TANTON: Let’s see, the fifth person in that original group was Sidney Swensrud, the former chairman of Gulf Oil. Sherry knew Mr. Swensrud from his work at International Planned Parenthood and the Association for Voluntary Sterilization, and she thought he might be interested. Pg. 30

    TANTON: All five of the first board members, along with our executive director, came out of the population and environmental movements. The thing that got us all into this in the first place was the very high-level concern in the 1970s about population growth, and the population arguments were the ones we put forth initially. But we found they didn’t seem to carry as much weight with others as they did with us. Pg. 34

    All quotes taken from “A Skirmish in a Wider War: An Oral History of John H. Tanton, Founder of FAIR”
    Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan


    “As with the euthanasia, active eugenics will deservedly continue to be rejected by most persons, but passive eugenics should elicit their support.”

    The Case For Passive Eugenics
    April 24, 1975
    John H. Tanton, M.D.
    Founder and Board member of the Federation for American Immigration Reform

  2. Reader | Dec 28, 2007 at 4:42 am | Reply


    Thank you so much for your comments. 

    I defend the right of any American speak their opinion, whether I agree with it or not.  My comments are not intended to voice support for FAIR’s position(s) but rather to criticize an organization (the Iowa State Civil Rights Commission) for taking a position that FAIR’s voice should be kept out of Iowa (which somehow seems to be in opposition to their mission).

    I am not as familiar with FAIR yet as I would like to be, but I’m inclined to look at what they have to say because they appear (based on what I’ve seen on their web site) to be focused on immigration rules, which I think is the area of the immigration topic that needs significant attention.

    The information on Tanton is extremely informative and helps provide some background on the man and will certainly color how I interpret anything he may say.  Thank you for providing it!

    – Reader

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