Here's a reason for immigration reform advocates to celebrate.
Earlier this month, Pandora internet radio ran ads from a group called the Federation for American Immigration Reform. This group’s name sounds innocent enough – after all, Christians have been advocating for immigration reform for years. But FAIR is operating under a different definition of “immigration reform” – severely limiting all forms of immigration and creating an even more punitive system for undocumented immigrants.
FAIR’s messages have often hinged on fear and dehumanization of immigrants and their home cultures. Some have alleged they have ties to white supremacist organizations, and their leaders are credited with any number of disturbing quotes.
FAIR’s recent ad campaigns have attempted to whip up fear and hatred for immigrants by claiming that they will steal jobs from working Americans. This kind of thinking has been debunked numerous times – immigrants contribute to the economy and help start small businesses.
Pandora radio has 70 million users listening 1.31 billion hours each month. That’s a lot of people who were hearing ads based on fear rather than facts.
Along with other groups, Sojourners contacted Pandora and asked them to stop playing these ads. We understand that everyone has the right to say what they want – free speech – but we’re glad that civil society and consumers can put pressure on companies to limit the amount of harmful speech we hear every day.
Pandora has ended the relationship* after reviewing FAIR’s record. Thousands of Sojourners readers signed a petition asking them not to accept hateful ads in the future, and donated to help Sojourners run ads with positive messages highlighting the contributions immigrants make to our communities and their inherent dignity as human beings created in God’s image.
This is especially important as bipartisan immigration reform legislation advances in Congress. People of faith and the public in general have rallied in support of reform legislation with a roadmap to citizenship for aspiring Americans, and to hear hateful messages during this time is especially difficult for those who are waiting expectantly for Congress to decide their fate.
Thanks to the efforts of those who care about our immigrant sisters and brothers, Pandora radio will no longer be a source of harm and pain to our neighbors.
Thank you, Sojourners activists and Pandora!
Janelle Tupper is Campaigns Assistant for Sojourners.
*An earlier version of this story, based on conversations with constituents informed by Pandora, stated that Pandora pulled FAIR's ads. After speaking with a Pandora representative, Sojourners was told Pandora intended to pull the ads after hearing feedback from constituents, but the ad had already completed its run. Pandora has indicated it will not run ads from FAIR in the future.
Image: Pandora booth, by Niallkennedy / Flickr.com