In 2020, the total number of anti-immigrant hate groups decreased by one as a result of a state-level group not engaging in real-world activity. Despite this minor decrease, the nativist movement at-large witnessed unprecedented policy gains as a result of the Trump administration’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to a report published by the Migration Policy Institute, the Trump administration implemented more than 400 policy changes on immigration over four years. Early on, the administration focused on curbing unlawful immigration entirely, but this year, following the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, the administration shifted its ire to legal immigration.
The Trump administration used health and economic fears to alter the country’s entire immigration system to its liking. The cumulative effect of these executive actions resulted in a de-facto moratorium of all immigration to the United States.
On June 22, 2020, President Trump issued an executive order restricting the entry of individuals seeking to enter the United States on nonimmigrant work visas. The executive order paused the admittance of foreign workers who come to the U.S. on, but not limited to, H-1B, J and L visas. The order brought immigration to the U.S. to a complete halt.
Other significant immigration-related policy actions taken by the Trump administration during the pandemic include the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) mandating the expulsion of unauthorized arrivals, essentially ending asylum at the U.S. southern border; a ban on travel from 31 countries; a temporary suspension of all routine visa services at U.S. embassies and consulates; a temporary suspension of refugee resettlement; and a suspension of immigration for most family-based visa categories.
Over the past four years, the Trump administration imposed draconian immigration policies to demonize immigrant communities in pursuit of a nativist agenda. However, the administration’s, and by extension the anti-immigrant movement’s, policy victories of the last four years appear impermanent. A large majority of the administration’s policies were implemented through executive order, rule changes and other procedures which can be undone by a different administration. President-elect Joe Biden has pledged to do just that within his first 100 days in office.
As part of his immigration platform, President-elect Biden recognized that “the next president will need to take urgent action to end the Trump administration’s draconian policies, grounded in fear and racism, rather than fact, work to heal the wounds inflicted on immigrant communities, and restore America’s moral leadership.” It could be years before the Biden-Harris administration is able to undo the damage that has been wrought.
It remains to be seen where individuals such as Stephen Miller and Robert Law, and other administration officials with connections to anti-immigrant groups, will go following their time in the White House. Where these individuals end up will reveal whether nativism will finally be relegated to the fringe or whether the mainstream is still willing to tolerate it.
Although many groups criticize high levels of immigration and some (categorized by the Southern Poverty Law Center as “nativist extremist” groups) typically confront or harass individual immigrants and their supporters, anti-immigrant hate groups generally go further by pushing racist propaganda.
2020 anti-immigrant hate groups
American Border Patrol
Sierra Vista, AZ*
American Immigration Control Foundation/Americans for Immigration Control
Americans for Legal Immigration (ALIPAC)
Californians for Population Stabilization
Center for Immigration Studies
Colorado Alliance for Immigration Reform
Dustin Inman Society, The
Federation for American Immigration Reform
Floridians for Immigration Enforcement
Pompano Beach, FL*
Help Save Maryland
Immigration Reform Law Institute
Legal Immigrants for America
Winter Springs, FL*
Oregonians for Immigration Reform
Remembrance Project, The
San Diegans for Secure Borders
San Diego, CA*
Texans for Immigration Reduction and Enforcement