A radical anti-immigration group infiltrated the GOP. Now it's in the White House. - 2017-05-03
Dan Stein was 27 years old when he came to work as the press secretary of the Federation for American Immigration Reform. It was 1982, and the group — better known by its acronym FAIR — was operating out of a run-down townhouse on P Street in Washington, D.C., a "cozy old joint" with rats in the ceiling, Stein once recalled. FAIR counted just 10 members and was essentially a fringe group; back then, its nativist, radically anti-immigration views didn't align with positions held by mainstream politicians, Republican or Democrat.
Not anymore. Today, FAIR enjoys broad support among Republican lawmakers and unprecedented influence in the Oval Office. A cadre of former staffers and allies fill the Trump administration's highest ranks, and FAIR's ideas are profoundly shaping national immigration policy. On Tuesday, Julie Kirchner, who served as FAIR's executive director for 10 years until 2015, was named the new ombudsman of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. She will report directly to the deputy director of the Department of Homeland Security and will be in charge of helping immigrants navigate the green-card and citizenship-application process.
Besides Kirchner, at least five other key advisers to President Trump on immigration have ties to FAIR: Jeff Sessions, Kris Kobach, Kellyanne Conway, Stephen Miller, and Lou Barletta. Among them, they acted as legal counsel, board members, and longtime allies of the group. (Kirchner declined to comment, and none of the other five responded to multiple requests to be interviewed for this article.)