Anti-immigrant roundup: 4/19/18

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

Federation for American Immigration Reform* (FAIR) spokesperson Ira Mehlman penned a blog on April 5 blaming immigrants living in California for supposedly having negative effects on the state’s traffic congestion and air quality. In late March, California officially issued one million driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants in the state. While reports have shown this policy has benefitted the lives of many people, Mehlman was more cynical, saying it “has made the state’s air quality even worse and its roads even more congested (if that was even possible).” He added: “But for California officials, when it comes to accommodating illegal aliens, what’s a few more global warming-causing pollutants in the air, or a bit more gridlock on the highways?” 

This is not the first time a FAIR employee has blamed immigrants for traffic congestion. In January, FAIR’s president Dan Stein urged drastically reducing immigration because of the amount of cars on the road during rush hour. “I get up in the morning at four o’clock to get to work because the highways are choked with traffic,” he complained, “because immigration levels are not calculated to match the needs, domestic needs of American society.”  

The Immigration Reform Law Institute* (IRLI), FAIR’s legal arm, has joined the opposition against California’s pro-immigrant policies. On April 6, IRLI filed two friend-of-the-court briefs opposing California’s so-called “sanctuary” state laws. In one amicus curiae, IRLI — on behalf of the National Sheriffs’ Association, Advocates for Victims of Illegal Alien Crime and Fight Sanctuary State — supported U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ lawsuit against California for its pro-sanctuary laws. IRLI went as far as to outrageously claim that laws like the California Values Act could potentially lead to “armed confrontation between local and federal officers.”

IRLI filed another brief in support of local municipalities and elected officials in California that are voting to opt out of the state’s pro-sanctuary status. Escondido, Mission Viejo and Yorba Linda, three of the cities that recently voted to exempt themselves from California’s sanctuary laws, were part of a larger group of state entities to sign on to IRLI’s brief. Xenophobic and anti-immigrant rhetoric has been prevalent at the city meetings where the voting has taken place.

On April 12, Andrew Arthur of the Center for Immigration Studies* (CIS) testified at a congressional hearing about the peaceful Central American migrant “caravan” headed for the U.S. border. The hearing, which was sponsored by the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on National Security, was titled “Caravan of illegal immigrants: a test of U.S. borders.” During his testimony, Arthur supported President Donald Trump’s plans to phase out the so-called “catch and release” program at the southern border. He also praised Jeff Sessions’ “zero-tolerance” policy that claims anyone attempting to or who already has crossed the border unlawfully will be met with "the full prosecutorial powers of the Department of Justice." 

Elsewhere in his remarks, Arthur lamented that Sessions’ harsh policies will likely not apply to children in the caravan attempting to cross the border. “[I]t is doubtful … the Attorney General’s ‘zero-tolerance’ policy will be directed toward these UACs, and therefore will have little or no effect on the illegal entry of such aliens to the United States.” Brandon Judd, a Border Patrol union leader and ally to the organized anti-immigrant movement, also testified and echoed similar talking points as Arthur. 

During an immigration hearing on April 12, FAIR-approved U.S. Rep. John Carter claimed that human smugglers who usher unaccompanied migrant kids across the border discriminate based on looks because “a lot of the attractive children are not making it to the border.” In 2016, FAIR gave a Carter a 100 percent approval rating. The Texas representative received a 94 percent rating in 2018 from NumbersUSA, another anti-immigrant group that’s part of the John Tanton network.
 

State and local activity

 

On April 10, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signed a bill into law banning so-called sanctuary jurisdictions in the state. Senate File 481, like other anti-sanctuary policies, designates local law enforcement to act as immigration agents and serve as a de facto arm of ICE. A section of the law also says state funds can be withheld from jurisdictions that do not comply with the new anti-sanctuary policy. Senate File 481’s passage was lauded by the anti-immigrant hate group CIS, which is opposed to sanctuary cities. Only two local groups registered in support of the bill. One of which being the Iowa chapter of the nativist extremist group the Minutemen.

Of course, designating local law enforcement to serve as immigration agents can often sow distrust between officers and local immigrant communities. Iowa lawmakers recognized this and put in a section that prohibits law enforcement from inquiring about immigration status pertaining to a “victim of or witness to a crime.” Iowa’s law passed shortly after Virginia Governor Ralph Northam vetoed a anti-sanctuary measure in his state. 

Efforts by the local anti-immigrant group Floridians for Immigration Enforcement (FLIMEN) to get an E-Verify measure on the ballot in November were recently quashed by Florida’s Chamber of Commerce. On April 16, the state Constitution Review Commission rejected he E-Verify proposal 24 to 12. FLIMEN’s efforts received support from FAIR’s Bob Dane. Passing E-Verify at the state level remains a goal of national anti-immigrant groups despite its many problems.

In their own words

Mark Krikorian, CIS’s executive director, responded to reports of there being transgender migrants in the so-called caravan heading from Central America to the U.S. by tweeting: “Hispanic transgender illegal aliens -- if only they were also Muslim & handicapped, they'd be the Left's ideal immigrants!”

Tennessee State Rep. Jay Reedy, a co-sponsor of a bill to ban sanctuary cities in his state, used the racial slur “wetback” in an anecdote about encountering an undocumented Latino migrant worker when he was a kid. Reedy stated: "And he said, ‘Well, he’s a wetback.’ And what they said by a wetback, he’s here illegally.” FAIR’s State and Local Director Shari Rendall has been involved in Tennessee’s anti-sanctuary push. 

U.S. Rep. Steve King, an ally of the anti-immigrant movement, celebrated the recent re-election of far-right Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban on social media, writing, “Orban & Hungary is the gold standard for Western Christendom.”

Upcoming events

On May 1, the Center for Immigration Studies will kick off its new “Immigration Newsmaker” speaker series. The first event of the series, which will take place at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., will be a conversation between and CIS’s Arnold Arthur and James McHenry, director of the Executive Office for Immigration Review. According to CIS, the series will also feature other government officials from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, the Department of Justice, and The Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration.

San Diegans for Secure Borders* are still planning to hold a rally to meet the migrant caravan at the southern border. The event is tentatively scheduled for April 26, however, it is unclear when members of the caravan will actually arrive. William Gheen’s Americans for Legal Immigration PAC* (ALIPAC) was also scheduled to hold an event to protest “caravans from invading the USA” on May 5. The event has since been cancelled given the nebulous state of the caravan.