On Wednesday, if you subject yourself to watching the Republican presidential debates, you'll see a television ad that, at first, seems out of place in its reasonableness. It tells viewers that, "the immigration debate should not be about the color of people's skin." Sponsored by a group you've likely never heard of called NumbersUSA, it features scripted actors of diverse origin whom you'd expect in feel-good ads from a clothing retailer or cosmetics company.
In reality, NumbersUSA is a radical group
with ties to white supremacists and other hate organizations that advocates against even legal immigration. The ad is the latest effort to put a more acceptable face on a movement that is self-aware enough to realize its true motives are unspeakably toxic.
For a little background, NumbersUSA is part of a trio of groups (including the Federation for American Immigration Reform and Center for Immigration Studies) launched with backing of John Tanton, a now-retired doctor from Michigan. His motives are apparent in the company he keeps. He has "corresponded with holocaust deniers, white supremacists, and attorneys who represented members of the Ku Klux Klan." He "revived an old interest in eugenics" and told one of the most prominent white supremacists in the US, "You are saying a lot of things that need to be said."
The group's current leader, Roy Beck, has spoken to a white supremacist group and has advocated an agenda so radical that even most mainstream conservative officials avoid his group.
Most recently, NumbersUSA focuses on stopping any efforts at immigration reform. Unlike even right-wing Republicans, their agenda is stopping almost all immigration - shockingly even legal immigration. In a sign of just how radical NumbersUSA is, the group attacked Donald Trump for being too soft on immigration. Yes, in the view of NumbersUSA, the mass deportation agenda of Trump and the GOP candidates doesn't go far enough.
The troubling trend goes beyond any one group - it is an effort by white nationalist and anti-immigrant groups to lie about their motives to push a radical agenda. For many of these groups, the ultimate goal is a government-enforced mass deportation, reminiscent of the dark chapter of American history when government power was used to intern Americans of Japanese origin in the 1940s. They seek an America that is less diverse and more closed-off from the rest of the world.
The good news is that groups like NumbersUSA realize that public opinion is not on their side. Why else would a group fond of white supremacists and that believes Trump is not extreme enough run a national television ad claiming, "the immigration debate should not be about the color of people's skin"?