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Pennsylvania to Consider 'English Only' Legislation

Pennsylvania State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe Invites White Nationalist, Other Anti-Immigrant Activists to Testify in Favor of “English Only” Bill.

The Pennsylvania House State Government Committee on Monday is scheduled to hold a hearing on an English-only bill that would make English the official language of the state. The committee, chaired by longtime anti-immigrant lawmaker Daryl Metcalfe, has invited a white nationalist to testify, along with representatives of two other anti-immigrant groups. 

Testifying on Monday will be white nationalist Robert “Bob” Vandervoort, head of ProEnglish, a nativist extremist group, based in Arlington, VA. Vandervoort is also the former head of the white nationalist group Chicagoland Friends of American Renaissance, a satellite for American Renaissance, a group founded by Jared Taylor, one of the most influential white nationalists in America. 

While based in Chicago, Vandervoort posted comments on the website of now deceased white nationalist Lawrence Auster, where he praised Taylor and others. In one comment 2003, Vandervoort praised Jared Taylor's debate with Phil Donahue. Vandervoort wrote, “Cheers to Jared Taylor and the American Renaissance for continually afflicting the comfortable white liberals!” In these comments, Vandervoort continually debated white nationalist issues and indicated that he read a number of racist websites. Even then, Vandervoort decried what he called “massive Third World immigration to the West.” 

Vandervoort’s group was founded in 1994 by white nationalist, John Tanton, the founder of the modern-day anti-immigrant movement, in the wake of his forced resignation from another English-only group, U.S. English. Tanton resigned from the group in 1988 when racially charged memos he authored surfaced. 

The largest group Tanton founded was the anti-immigrant hate group Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). Metcalfe has worked closely with FAIR and its legal arm, the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI) for close to a decade. 
Metcalfe was one of the founding members of a coalition of anti-immigrant lawmakers named State Legislators for Legal Immigration (SLLI), which drafted model anti-immigrant legislation such as Arizona’s SB 1070 bill, and SLLI lawmakers introduced the legislation in their states. 

Another anti-immigrant activist schedule to testify before the House State Government Committee is Jan Ting. Ting sits on the board of directors of the anti-immigrant think tank, Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), another Tanton-founded group. 

Ting has publically called for the U.S. to implement an immigration policy that “disfavors” immigrants with “low levels of skills and education” as well as “the middle-aged and elderly.” The group he represents also has a long track record of racism. In 2008 CIS staffer Jessica Vaughan claimed, “One legacy of TPS (Temporary Protected Status for refugees) has been its contribution to the burgeoning street gang problem in the United States.” After the devastating earthquake in Haiti in 2010, CIS executive director Mark Kirkorian wrote, “My guess is that Haiti’s so screwed up because it wasn’t colonized long enough.” CIS has also referred to immigrants as “Third-World gold-diggers.” Matt Shuman, representing another Tanton-founded group U.S. English is to testify. 

There is no question that a robust debate about immigration and immigration legislation should be held at the federal, state and local level, but there should be no place for white nationalists and representatives of extreme anti-immigrant groups in this discourse. 

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