ProEnglish’s only two staff members, Executive Director Stephen Guschov and Director of Government Relations Dan Carter, discussed “a variety of official English legislation issues” with the unnamed Trump aide.
Since 1994, ProEnglish has pushed to have English declared the official language of the United States through legislative means. The latest attempt at the federal level, HR 997, the English Language Unity Act, was introduced in 2017 by Rep. Steve King (R-IA), one of the most outspoken anti-immigrant members of Congress. ProEnglish has also pushed for similar legislation at the state level, where 32 states have some form of official English measures on the books.
In the late 1970s Tanton, a retired eye-doctor from Michigan, began constructing a constellation of anti-immigrant groups that today makes up the organized nativist movement in America. ProEnglish, originally called English Language Advocates, was the second attempt by Tanton to start such an organization. He abandoned his first attempt, US English, after racist strategy memos Tanton wrote were leaked to press. The memos contained questions like:
- “Will Latin American migrants bring with them the tradition of the mordida (bribe), the lack of involvement in public affairs, etc.?”
- “Will Blacks be able to improve (or even maintain) their position in the face of the Latin onslaught?”
- “As Whites see their power and control over their lives declining, will they simply go quietly into the night? Or will there be an explosion?”
ProEnglish was one of the few anti-immigrant groups Tanton still had a role in until last year when he left the active board to become board member emeritus. The group remains under the control of Tanton’s umbrella organization U.S., Inc.
But ProEnglish’s white nationalist problem doesn’t stop with Tanton. ProEnglish’s executive director for a number of years before Guschov ran the organization, was Robert Vandervoort, who formerly ran the white nationalist group Chicagoland Friends of American Renaissance, a chapter of American Renaissance run by prominent white nationalist Jared Taylor. In addition, former ProEnglish staffer Phil Tignino ran a chapter of the now-defunct white nationalist student group Youth for Western Civilization.
K.C. McAlpin, Tanton’s right hand man at U.S., Inc., sits on ProEnglish’s board. In 2010, an editorial another white nationalist Wayne Lutton, wrote in Tanton’s journal The Social Contract called for a ban on all Muslim immigration to the United States. McAlpin defended the editorial, claiming that banning Muslims would be akin to barring Communists or Nazis in the past. According to McAlpin, “Congress has used that power in the past to ban the immigration of Communist Party and National Socialist (Nazi) party members who were deemed to be threats to our national security. This case is no different.”
Stephen Guschov, ProEnglish’s new director also has a history of bigotry. He previously worked for another anti-immigrant group, Legal Immigrants for America (LIFA), and the anti-LGBT hate group Liberty Counsel.
ProEnglish’s visit to the White House is further indication of the open-door policy nativist groups have benefited from since President Trump’s election. During the campaign, anti-immigrant groups were advising then-candidate Trump, and he citied one anti-immigrant group, the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) in a campaign ad. Since Trump’s election, CIS and the other two major Beltway anti-immigrant groups, NumbersUSA and the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), have been invited to stakeholder meetings with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). FAIR’s former executive director Julie Kirchner and CIS’s Jon Feere also took jobs at DHS in 2017. Trump’s appointments of Jeff Sessions and Stephen Miller, two staunch nativist allies, to positions in his cabinet and advisory team respectively is also extremely beneficial for anti-immigrant groups.
In strategy memos he drafted over 30 years ago, John Tanton noted that a goal for anti-immigrant groups was to get “like-minded” officials to be appointed to the immigration committees in Congress, but with Trump in office, the anti-immigrant movement now has also has foothold in the White House.