Anti-immigrant roundup: 2/27/18

The following is a list of activities and events of anti-immigrant organizations. Organizations listed as anti-immigrant hate groups are designated with an asterisk.

 
 

National groups

Officials with the group ProEnglish* have now met with White House staff three times this year to discuss a so-called official English policy. According to a February 13 blog post, Stephen Guschov and Dan Carter of ProEnglish — a group founded by white nationalist John Tanton —met with President Donald Trump’s aides to discuss White House support for legislation making English the official language of the United States. In a blog posted two days later, Carter and Gushov apparently had a follow-up meeting to discuss similar legislative goals with aides to Vice President Mike Pence. In a blog recapping the meeting, ProEnglish staff called Pence “a loyal and strong supporter” of official English legislation, noting as a U.S. Congressman he co-sponsored Rep. Steve King’s 2011 “English Language Unity Act.” In the same blog, the group claimed it was “greatly encouraged” by both recent meetings. Last month, Hatewatch reported that ProEnglish officials met with another unnamed Trump aide to discuss policy. In 2016, Sam Pimm, ProEnglish’s former executive director, was also said to have “attended an exclusive meeting” with Pence who voiced support for policies pushed by the group, saying, “Speaking English is the key to assimilation and achieving the American dream.”

On Thursday, February 15, the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security hosted a hearing titled, “The Effect of Sanctuary City Policies on the Ability to Combat the Opioid Epidemic.” Two of the featured witnesses who testified included Jessica Vaughan of the group Center for Immigration Studies* (CIS) and Jackson County, Texas, Sheriff A.J. Louderback, one of the anti-immigrant movement’s law enforcement allies. Both individuals are opposed to so-called sanctuary cities and used their respective testimonies to conflate them with criminal activity and tie them to the nation’s opioid crisis. “Nowhere is it clearer than sanctuary cities which is creating a safe haven for criminality,” Louderback said during his testimony. During her remarks, Vaughan called on Congress to pass legislation that would prosecute pro-sanctuary city government officials for their supposed refusal to cooperate with federal immigration enforcement. “Congress must act to clarify the legal authorities that support immigration enforcement and to impose consequences on sanctuary jurisdictions and the officials who are responsible for these destructive policies,” she stated. Vaughan’s organization, CIS, has long opposed sanctuary jurisdictions and puts out biased material attempting to equate them with criminals. A CIS employee recently wrote a blog comparing sanctuary cities to a virus. The group also recently published a report claiming sanctuary jurisdictions are partly to blame — along with immigrant children — for an uptick in MS-13 gang related activity and murders.

Vaughan was not the only CIS staffer who was recently called on to testify on Capitol Hill. CIS fellow Andrew Arthur was a witness at a hearing on February 15 sponsored by the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations about “The Costs of Denying Border Patrol Access: Our Environment and Security.” During his remarks, Arthur lamented that Border Patrol agents need to get permission before entering some federal land across the Southern border such as national forests and wildlife refuges. The agency is also prohibited from building fences and roads in certain areas due to environmental concerns. The CIS fellow called on Congress to give seemingly unfettered power to Border Patrol agents. “Congress should reassess the respective roles of the Border Patrol and the each of the land management agencies, to ensure that critical law-enforcement activities are not impeded in any way,” he stated. Brandon Judd, president of the National Border Patrol Council, also testified. Judd regularly associates with anti-immigrant groups and often testifies alongside them at Congressional hearings. Judd also asked to Congress to disregard any and all environmental concerns and give the Border Patrol full access to federal land. “I hope that the Subcommittee would never tolerate policies of this nature and allow senior agency bureaucrats in Washington to prioritize possible impacts on the environment over the safety of the men and women of the Border Patrol,” he said.

The Federation for America Immigration Reform* (FAIR) launched a new advertisement in February promoting the organization and its mission. In it, FAIR laments “special interest groups” getting in the way of its anti-immigrant policies which, according to the ad, includes, “Less immigration, better border security, strong interior law enforcement, and an end to unfair foreign labor programs.” FAIR posted the ad on its website along with additional information on the anti-immigrant policies presented within it. For example, less immigration to FAIR means drastically reducing immigration to about 300,000 legal immigrants per year as well as ending extended family reunification programs, or “chain migration.” As part of its “interior law enforcement,” FAIR, per usual, called to put an end to sanctuary jurisdictions and “allow for the prosecution of elected officials who blatantly ignore their duty to uphold the law.” The group also pushed for problematic E-Verify programs as part of its efforts to supposedly help the American worker.

On February 16, at the request of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, FAIR filed an amicus curiae brief decrying efforts by officials with the Obama administration to use administrative closure to prevent over 100,000 undocumented immigrants from going before an immigration judge. The brief was compiled by the Immigration Reform Law Institute*, FAIR’s legal arm, which referred to the administration's efforts as “stealth amnesty.” Sessions reportedly noticed the removals shortly after he was confirmed and ordered a review of backlog. He also put the call out for friend-of-the-courts briefs. Unsurprisingly, FAIR’s brief calls for an immediate halt on administration closure pertaining to immigration courts.

On February 22, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced it would be changing its mission statement and removing the sentence that the U.S. is a “nation of immigrants.” The new statement, unveiled by USCIS Director L. Francis Cissna in a letter, will instead emphasize “protecting Americans, securing the homeland, and honoring our values.” Cissna’s decision to change the statement was praised by some anti-immigrant groups. The anti-immigrant organization NumbersUSA lauded USCIS’s “America First” approach, stating, “Every government agency should remember that it serves Americans and American interests first and foremost.” Oregonians for America Immigration Reform*, a Pacific Northwest-based anti-immigrant hate group, also welcomed the change, claiming it is a departure from “the former open-borders slant that prevailed for far too long.”

A spokesperson for the USCIS said the decision to change the mission statement did not come from the White House but instead “reflects the director’s guiding principles for the agency.” Indeed, Cissna has a history of associating with nativist groups. In 2015, he attended an event organized by CIS about the alleged betrayal of the American worker. During the Q&A portion of the event, Cissna announced his then-boss Sen. Chuck Grassley had introduced legislation to reform the U.S.’s H-1B and L-1 visa programs, saying it “requires the employers to hire an American first if there's an American who's available and eligible to do the job.” And in December 2017, Cissna spoke at an event organized by Protect US Workers, a group founded and run by attorney Sara Blackwell who also has ties to anti-immigrant groups.

Local groups

On February 21, the California-based anti-immigrant hate group We The People Rising (WTPR) traveled to the Northgate Market in El Monte, California, to hand-deliver a letter to the establishment's management in support of them participating in an ICE inspection. A few days earlier, ICE conducted an I-9 audit of those employed by the market.

After delivering the letter, WTPR activists stood outside the market holding pro-ICE signs. Activists associated with the group also reportedly mailed a letter of support to Thomas Homan, ICE’s acting director, lauding him and the federal law enforcement agency.

National legislation

Anti-immigrant group ProEnglish lauded a newly proposed amendment that would make English the official language of documents produced by the federal government. On February 14, Sen. Jim Inhofe proposed Amendment #1950, which “would require the federal government to use the English language when acting with binding, legal authority.” Inhofe remains a legislative ally to ProEnglish. According to the Oklahoma senator, his latest proposed amendment is based off another bill of his, SB 678, which seeks to establish English as the official language of the United States. This bill is also being championed by ProEnglish, which claims it spent the summer “diligently visiting the offices of countless senators and congressmen on Capitol Hill in an effort to keep momentum going, meet with staff members, and continue to build support for” SB 678 and its companion bill, HR 997, introduced by Rep. Steve King.

Local legislation

Local anti-immigrant group Floridians for Immigration Enforcement announced it has made progress getting an E-verify measure on the state ballot in November 2018. If the group is successful, Floridians will have the opportunity to vote on an amendment to the state constitution that would require employers to implement problematic E-Verify programs. According to Floridians for Immigration Enforcement, the proposal has already passed two Constitutional revision committees and now heads to the third and final one which will decide if it makes it to the ballot. If so, it will require 60 percent of the vote from Florida citizens to make it an amendment.

In their own words

On February 8, Maria Espinoza of the anti-immigrant group the Remembrance Project*, claimed on a radio program that citizens need to find a loophole that would remove elected officials who support a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. “But I think we need to find a little loophole there that we can use to get them out sooner if they’re not doing their job, just like anyone else would be removed from their positions by their employer if they weren’t doing the job they were supposed to do.”

CIS published a blog on February 20 written by staffer Dan Cadman titled “The Mutating Sanctuary Virus.” In it, he writes, “the ‘sanctuary’ virus has mutated and grown to encompass not only resistance to immigration matters, but also to federal drug laws.”

In a February 20 blog, FAIR’s Executive Director Bob Dane celebrated that Trump is on his way to usurp Obama as the “Deporter in Chief.” “Considering that Trump took office three months into the fiscal year, he’s on pace to out-deport the so-called Deporter in Chief,” Dane wrote.

Fred Eble, director of the anti-immigrant group Colorado Alliance for Immigration Reform*, published a blog on his group’s website on February 26 claiming, “The world has changed. The Marxist left are not battling for open borders. They are battling to fundamentally transform Western Civilization. They are fully engaged.”

Upcoming events:

The anti-immigrant group Help Save Maryland is mobilizing activists to turn up at the state capitol on March 13 in opposition to HB 1461 which would make Maryland a so-called sanctuary state. According to the group, “Many activists will be giving testimony to stop” the bill. The hearing will take place at the Low House Office Building.