Anti-immigrant roundup: 3/13/18

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

On February 16, the Atlanta Journal Constitution published a statement from Stephen Guschov, leader of the anti-immigrant group ProEnglish* in support of Georgia’s English-only bill. Senate Resolution 577 was introduced by Senator McKoon (R-29), who has also introduced anti-Muslim legislation in the past. ProEnglish, a hate group founded by white nationalist John Tanton, has gained clout under this administration, making multiple trips to the White House this year. Following a meeting in January, ProEnglish published a blog saying it was “greatly encouraged by the East Wing meeting, and also looks forward to additional, follow-up meetings at the White House with more Trump administration officials in order to accelerate official English legislation and executive orders.”

On March 7, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the federal government’s lawsuit against California and criticized the state’s stance on sanctuary cities. The lawsuit challenges three California laws the federal government claims violates the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution. These laws are: SB 54 (prevents state and local law enforcement agencies from using money or personnell to investigate or detain persons based on their immigration status), AB 450 (prohibits private employers from consenting to a search from federal immigration authorities on behalf of their employee), and AB 103 (mandates a review of immigration processes and situations in which noncitizens were apprehended).

Anti-immigrant groups vocally endorsed the Sessions lawsuit. “It’s refreshing to hear an attorney general talk about upholding our laws,” Robin Hvidston, leader of the California anti-immigrant group We the People Rising, said. Hvidston is also the California director of the anti-immigrant group the Remembrance Project*. We the People Rising also sent an email asking supporters to contact Sessions and “let him know you support sanctuary lawsuit.” In a March 8 email,  Beltway-based anti-immigrant group NumbersUSA wrote, “Yesterday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions laid down the law -- literally -- in person, to law-enforcement officials in California’s state capital of Sacramento.”

Mark Krikorian, executive director of anti-immigrant hate group Center for Immigration Studies (CIS)*, also published a blog on March 5 ahead of Sessions’ announcement. “Although the threat of denying certain DOJ grants has moved some less-committed sanctuary jurisdictions to change their policies, bringing the pro-sanctuary Democrats to heel will require sterner measures,” he wrote.

Anti-immigrant activists came out in full force for 2018’s Conservative Political Action Conference February 21 through 24 in Maryland including: Phil Kent from Americans for Immigration Control* (Kent also sits on Georgia’s Immigration Enforcement and Review Board), Maria Espinoza and Tim Lyng, cofounders of the Remembrance Project, Stephen Guschov, executive director of ProEnglish, Bob Dane from Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR)*, Peter Brimelow, founder of VDARE*, Dale Wilcox from the Immigration Reform Law Institute* (the legal arm of FAIR), and Chris Chmielenski and Andrew Good from NumbersUSA.

FAIR has also gotten involved in the push against Maryland becoming a sanctuary state. On March 8, FAIR wrote in an email, “Sanctuary policies prohibit or restrict state and local officials or law enforcement from cooperating with federal immigration officials, allowing criminal aliens to live and work freely in communities. House Bill (HB) 1461 makes it nearly impossible for state and local law enforcement to protect Marylanders against dangerous criminal aliens, even those convicted of the most serious crimes.” They further urged supporters to contact legislators. HB 1461 will be heard by the Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, March 13.

Joining Jon Feere (formerly of CIS, now at the Department of Homeland Security) and Julie Kirchner (former executive director of FAIR, now Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman), Robert Law is the latest former hate group member to join the federal government. Law, who previously acted as the lobbying director of FAIR, is now a senior policy advisor at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Law has pushed to end birthright citizenship and has likened the DREAM Act to “immigration anarchy.”

March 6 was the first day of Fish v. Kobach in which the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is suing Secretary of State of Kansas Kris Kobach. Kansas is one of two states that require documentary proof of citizenship (known as the DPOC law). The ACLU is suing on behalf of the individuals in Kansas and the League of Women Voters of Kansas to require the state to register the thousands of people who sought to register to vote but were turned away for lack of documentation. Despite being struck down in 2016 in the Federal District Court of Kansas and the Court of Appeals for the 10th circuit, Kobach asserts this law is integral to addressing the “serious problem of noncitizens registering to vote.” Under the National Voter Registration Act, Kobach must prove there is a large group of noncitizens registering to vote and there is “nothing less burdensome than the DPOC requirements” that would solve the issue. Kobach’s witnesses testified Kansas believes 127 out of 1.8 million voters since 2000 have registered or attempted to register despite being noncitizens. Just 11 actually voted. Kobach also serves as a lawyer for the anti-immigrant group Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI).

Co-founders of the anti-immigrant group Indiana Federation for Immigration Reform and Enforcement (IFIRE), Greg Serbon and Cheree Calabro are among the four citizens suing the city of Gary, Indiana, arguing the city does not comply with Indiana’s Citizenship and Immigration Status Information and Enforcement of Federal Immigration Laws statute. IRLI is representing the plaintiffs with the Bopp Law Firm PC. They allege the May, 2017 welcome ordinance, which prevents city employees or departments from asking about an individual’s immigration status, denying benefits or services based on immigration status, and prohibits threats and arrests based on immigration status, violates Indiana’s Citizenship and Immigration Status Law. Brian Lonergan, the director of communications at IRLI, wrote an article on The Hill, declaring, “The case against Gary represents the first real salvo against blatant disregard for our laws, safety and sovereignty. Thanks to the spreading, toxic ideology of sanctuary cities, many more will be required.”  Gary, Indiana, has responded saying the plaintiffs singled out a few sections of Indiana law to devise an “overarching super-mandate” to work with state and federal officials in enforcing immigration laws. IRLI is actively involved in a number of other sanctuary cases, including writing an amicus brief in the City and County of San Francisco v. Trump.

On February 28, IRLI filed an amicus brief in support of President Trump’s third Muslim Ban. IRLI alleges the ban does not contravene the Establishment Clause. It further claims that the Constitution grants Congress and the President authority to consider religion in immigration. The First Amendment’s Establishment Clause prohibits the government from making any law “respecting an establishment of religion.”

On March 12, CIS, an anti-immigrant think tank known for publishing false statistics and claims, announced a new “immigration data portal.” The portal, they allege, “consolidates government agencies’ most recent immigration statistics in one location…” Krikorian added, “It is my hope that the immigration debate will benefit from the launching of this data portal.”

Local Groups

San Diegans for Secure Borders* led by Jeff Schwilk toured the San Diego border with Border Patrol Union Local 1613 representative Chris Harris. Local 1613 of the National Border Patrol Council represents 2,400 Border Patrol agents and personnel assigned to the San Diego Sector of the U.S. Border Patrol. “Chris,” Schwilk wrote on the group’s Facebook page, “gave us a long, very eye opening tour.” He adds, “...the big secure secondary fence just ends and illegals sneak through the gaps day and night. Also illegal aliens around the world turn themselves in to BP daily at Goat Canyon where one of the big gaps exists, claiming fake asylum. BP has to process them and turn them over to ICE, who then releases most of them into America, per current federal policy.”

Federal legislation

The Supreme Court ruled in Jennings v. Rodriguez on February 27, writing in its 5-3 opinion, “Immigration officials are authorized  to detain certain aliens in the course of immigration proceedings while they determine whether those aliens may be lawfully present in the country.” SCOTUS has reversed the Ninth Circuit’s decision, now ruling immigrants — including those with permanent legal status and asylum seekers — may be detained indefinitely. This is also a reversal of the Ninth Circuit’s ruling that detained individuals have the right to an individualized bond hearing after six months and every six months after. These immigrants are held on average for 13 months, according to NPR. The ACLU estimates this will cost more than $2 billion a year.

Rep. Lee Zeldin introduced H.R. 5065, the “Protecting Our Communities from Gang Violence Act,” which would revoke citizenship for individuals who have gained citizenship through naturalization in the last 10 years and become involved in gang activity in the decade prior to acquiring citizenship or within the decade of becoming a citizen. CIS has come out in support of this bill.

In their own words

  • CIS on “no-go zones”
    “These zones are fueled by the density of the unassimilated alien populations living within them, populations with cultural attitudes and values found in religiously conservative Muslim communities in the Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia. Many of those values find expression in adherence to sharia law, including its expectations about how women dress and comport themselves, even though sharia conflicts with the laws and ethical structure of the host nation.”

Upcoming events

  • On Tuesday, March 13, San Diegans for Secure Borders is hosting a pro-wall rally that President Trump will attend. We the People Rising circulated an email about the event to encourage attendance. The Los Angeles Times quoted Ben Bergquam of Frontline America as well as leader of San Diegans for Secure Borders, Jeff Schwilk.
  • On Tuesday, March 20, Texans for Immigration Reform and Enforcement will be hosting a dinner in Houston to hear from Ray Myers, a former teacher and principal in the Dallas Independent School District. He has since been a Tea Party organizer.