The group, founded by Maria Espinoza, an active figure in anti-immigrant circles for half a decade, attempts to publicize Americans who have been killed by undocumented immigrants. Each person is memorialized on a “stolen lives” quilt, brought to nativist events around the country in an attempt to drum up support for anti-immigrant stances and policies.
Espinoza and the anti-immigrant organizations she works with are doing much more than simply advertising “stolen lives,” however. They are helping to advance the agenda of the organized nativist movement in the United States, which is to demonize immigrants in general, whether documented or not.
Espinoza’s ties aren’t just to anti-immigrant and nativist groups. In 2013, she appeared on the front cover of the racist journal The Social Contract (TSC), published by white nationalist John Tanton, who is the founder of the modern anti-immigrant movement. In 1993, Tanton wrote, "I've come to the point of view that for European-American society and culture to persist requires a European-American majority, and a clear one at that."
On the TSC cover, Espinoza was pictured holding a “stolen lives” quilt with Wayne Lutton, an open white nationalist, who serves as TSC’s editor. Lutton was on the editorial advisory board of the Citizens Informer, the publication of the white nationalist group Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC), which Charleston shooter Dylan Roof credited with being his gateway into white nationalism.
Also in 2013, Espinoza was a guest speaker at The Social Contract’s Writers Workshop event in Washington, D.C.. while a year later, the Remembrance Project received a $25,000 grant from Tanton’s umbrella organization, U.S., Inc.
Espinoza has spent much of her activism engaged in spreading falsehoods about immigrants; she has called the deaths of Americans at the hands of undocumented immigrants, for example, an “epidemic." According to the Anti-Defamation League Espinoza once wrote in a Facebook post that “[c]hild molestation and rape are very numerous in this illegal alien demographic!”
When talking about undocumented immigration, Espinoza once stated, "we have uncovered the fact that Americans are under assault.” Just last year, she announced a bid for Congress in Texas as a Republican but lost badly in the March primary, though she earned endorsements from a number of extremists including constitutional sheriff Richard Mack and anti-Muslim activist Pamela Geller.
This is not the first time Trump and the Remembrance Project have shared space. They did so in California early in his campaign. And though the Remembrance Project is a non-profit and therefore cannot endorse political candidates, many of its members are open supporters of the Trump campaign, including Espinoza herself. Trump’s anti-immigrant comments have helped fuel the nativist movement, and both Espinoza and Trump have held similar nativist campaign positions, like building a wall between the U.S. and Mexico and calling for a ban on all Muslim immigration to the country.