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Anti-immigrant roundup: 4.3.18

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

Anti-immigrant groups welcomed the March 13 ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit upholding parts of an extremely harsh anti-sanctuary statute in Texas. The court ruled in favor of SB 4, a bill signed into law in 2017 that requires local law enforcement to cooperate with ICE agents and detain immigrants as well as criminally punishes state officials who refuse to cooperate with federal immigration enforcement measures. The Immigration Reform Law Institute* (IRLI) issued a press release celebrating the ruling. “While some states are going the other direction with disastrous outcomes, Texas is a shining example of smart and effective immigration law,” wrote IRLI’s Dale Wilcox. The decision was also welcomed by the anti-immigrant group NumbersUSA.

The anti-immigrant group Progressives for Immigration Reform (PFIR) is back in the headlines for a new ad campaign. The so-called “progressive” anti-immigrant group recently spent $80,000 to plaster posters on trains and in metro stations in San Francisco, California, opposing H-1B visas. PFIR’s executive director Kevin Lynn voiced his disapproval of the visa program that hires highly-skilled foreign workers to Buzzfeed, saying, “I don’t see where innovation necessarily comes from diversity.” He also said money for the ads came “from foundations that support our views on immigration.” The Bay Area Rapid Transit authority issued a disclaimer stating that while PFIR’s ads comply with its free speech policy, the organization does not endorse its message. The ads are scheduled to run through mid-April.

The anti-immigrant hate group ProEnglish* is celebrating the recent passing of a measure in the Michigan state House of Representatives that would designate English as the state government’s official language. HB 4053 now heads to the state senate. State Rep. Tom Barrett, the bill’s sponsor, lauded its passage out of the House, saying, “Diversity with no shared values drives us deeper into our different corners and silos.”

On March 20, the Center for Immigration Studies* (CIS) held a panel titled “Should the States have a Say in the Refugee Resettlement Program?” at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. Unsurprisingly, the panel took on an anti-refugee slant. During the conference, Mark Krikorian, CIS’s executive director who moderated the event, called refugee resettlement programs in the U.S. “immoral” and “problematic” given the supposed financial costs. One of the panelists was Richard Thompson of the Thomas More Law Center, a right-wing law firm that has been involved in anti-Muslim causes over the years. In 2017, Thompson’s group sued the U.S. government on behalf of the state of Tennessee to opt out of the federal refugee program. A federal judge recently dismissed the case. During his remarks, Thompson equated states having to comply with the U.S. refugee program as having a “gun to the head.” Such rhetoric is seemingly normal for Thompson, who has previously lamented “the threat of the Muslim Invasion [sic] disguised as Refugee Resettlement.” Another panelist was Jeff Johnson, a St. Cloud, Minnesota city council member. Johnson has previously pushed the anti-Muslim conspiracy theory that “there are people in this state and country who seek to replace the Constitution with sharia.” During his talk, he compared resettling refugees in Minnesota and the U.S. to putting hundreds of people in a lifeboat only meant for one hundred. “If you put in eight hundred survivors the lifeboats gonna go down and you're gonna kill everybody,” he said.

The Immigration Reform Legal Institute (IRLI) continued its advocacy calling for local law enforcement to act on behalf of federal immigration agents. In its latest amicus curiae, released March 16, IRLI urged the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit to uphold law enforcement’s ability to detain undocumented immigrants. The anti-immigrant group is responding to a case in Indiana where the Marion County Sheriff's Department detained Antonio Lopez-Aguilar during a traffic stop and then turned him over to ICE. Lopez-Aguilar later sued the sheriff’s office, claiming it had violated his Fourth Amendment rights. The case was settled out of court. IRLI came out in opposition to the decision and issued a friend-of-the-court brief arguing the Fourth Amendment has been misinterpreted. The group is also advocating that local law enforcement be given more power to detain immigrants and turn them over ICE. IRLI’s Dale Wilcox wrote in the brief’s press release that “the federal government may enforce the nation’s immigration laws by detaining removable aliens, and local law enforcement may assist them in that endeavor.” IRLI is also representing several Indiana citizens, including Greg Serbon and Cheree Calabro of the anti-immigrant group Indiana Federation for Immigration Reform and Enforcement, in a lawsuit against the City of Gary’s pro-sanctuary status.

The anti-immigrant group We the People Rising is lauding a couple of cities in California that are attempting to opt out of the state’s so-called “sanctuary city” policies. On March 19, the Los Alamitos City Council voted 4-1 to ignore state policies shielding undocumented immigrants from deportation by the Trump administration. The Center for Immigration Studies, a group that regularly attacks sanctuary cities, also welcomed the city council’s decision, writing in a blog, “The enclave of Los Alamitos within Orange County is bucking California's pseudo-secession ‘states' rights’ fever on the matter of sanctuary for illegal aliens.” The Mission Viejo City Council also recently passed a resolution 5-0 supporting Los Alamitos’s decision to turn its back on immigrants as well as adding its name to an amicus curiae brief in favor of Attorney Jeff Sessions’ lawsuit against California. We the People Rising also welcomed this development.

On March 26, the U.S. Census Bureau announced last-minute it would be adding a question about citizenship status to the 2020 census. The decision came after pressure from Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who argued the question was needed to help enforce Voting Rights Act. The decision, however, raised concerns especially considering Sessions, a longtime ally to anti-immigrant movement, has never been a friend to voter’s rights. Instead, critics and civil rights advocates argue the question will greatly skew the census results on account of the Trump administration’s hostility toward immigrants

“[L]ocal officials and community leaders were deeply concerned about the difficulty of achieving a robust response in some communities, given a political climate in which immigrants are demonized and families live in fear of loved ones being plucked off the streets and deported,” wrote Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and former head of the Civil Rights Division at the Justice Department.

Anti-immigrant figures and groups welcomed the addition. Kris Kobach, Kansas’ nativist secretary of state and IRLI lawyer, penned a column at Breitbart defending the citizenship question, writing, “America’s willful ignorance concerning the number of citizens and the number of aliens in the country must end.” For years, Kobach has worked to draft and export measures aimed at disenfranchising voters in the name of election integrity. Mark Krikorian, CIS’s executive director, appeared on the Laura Ingraham and said, “It seems perfect common sense that we should ask … so they stopped in 1960 because everybody was a U.S. citizen by then.” The New Yorker reports that Sen. David Vitter, another staunch ally to anti-immigrant groups during his time as a legislator, has long advocated for the citizenship question. 14 states have come out against the question and announced a lawsuit against the Trump administration over it.

Local groups

On March 13, the hate group San Diegans for Secure Borders* along with other California-based anti-immigrant groups held a rally in support of President Donald Trump and his proposed southern border wall. The rally coincided with a visit from Trump, who was in San Diego to inspect border wall prototypes. Not far from the inspection site, anti-immigrant activists gathered to cheer on Trump’s divisive policies.

The event featured anti-immigrant and far-right speakers who addressed close to a hundred Trump supporters waving American flags and sporting “Make America Great Again” apparel. One of the speakers was congressional candidate and former Minuteman Tim Donnelly. During his remarks, Donnelly called for federal agents to arrest Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf for “aiding and abetting criminal aliens in our country,” which prompted a “lock her up” chant from the crowd.

Trevor Loudon, a far-right conspiracy theorist from New Zealand, was another speaker at the rally. Loudon is known for seeing communist infiltrators everywhere and claims the political left are working with so-called Islamists to overthrow the United States. California-based anti-immigrant activist Robin Hvidston of We the People Rising — one of the co-organizers of the rally — also addressed the crowd.

In their own words

William Gheen, president of Americans for Legal Immigration PAC, called for the arrest and deportation of Lizbeth Mateo, an undocumented immigrant appointed to serve on a government advisory committee in California. “The first thing that needs to happen is that Immigration and Customs Enforcement go to this woman’s home and arrest her and promptly deport her, as our current laws state. That’s what needs to happen if our elections and Constitution and laws of the United States are going to mean anything.”

Dan Cadman, CIS fellow

“This ‘abolish ICE’ notion might well be called the Taco Bell theory of immigration enforcement. People of a certain age may remember when the very un-PC ad slogan of the company was ‘Make a Run for the Border!’ Because that's what would happen.”

Rep. Steve King (R-IA)

“We, here in America, hold in our hands the hope of the world, the fate of the coming years. We must lead on the restoration of Western Civilization. It starts with faith and families. I have long said, “Americans need to have a lot of babies and raise them right.”

Upcoming events

San Diegans for Secure Borders are trying to get people out to a city council meeting on April 4 in Escondido, California that will involve a vote on whether or not to oppose the state’s pro-sanctuary policies. “This is going to be fun! More winning!” wrote Jeff Schwilk, the group’s leader.

On April 8, the right-wing California group United Inland Empire, or Unite IE, will hold its 2018 conference at the Riverside Convention Center. Two of the scheduled speakers include far-right, anti-Muslim figures Sebastian Gorka and Katie Hopkins. Unite IE is a coalition of conservative groups in California’s Inland Empire area. Some of the groups that make up the coalition include the nativist group We the People Rising, an ACT for America* chapter, and two chapters of the anti-government group Oath Keepers.


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