Anti-immigrant roundup: 6/13/18

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

National groups

The anti-immigrant hate group the Federation for American Immigration Reform* (FAIR) lauded the passage of HB 2315, Tennessee’s new anti-sanctuary bill, and claimed it will defend any legal challenge to the legislation. In a Facebook video published May 23, FAIR’s state and local director Shari Rendall, joined the group’s president, Dan Stein, to discuss the bill, which passed without Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam’s signature. Stein said that FAIR’s legal arm, the Immigration Reform Law Institute* (IRLI), will help litigate any legal challenges, "to make sure that any kind of sanctuary city bill attack is successfully defended." FAIR has been involved in drumming up support for anti-sanctuary initiatives in Tennessee. According to The Tennessee Star, Rendall spoke to the Senate State and Local Government Committee, which supported SB 2332, the Senate companion bill to HB 2315. She reportedly told the committee, “sanctuary policies come in all shapes and sizes,” and to be wary of some that “masquerade as ‘welcoming resolutions.’”

In a series of briefs filed to U.S. Attorney General Sessions in the Matter of Castro-Tum, IRLI, which serves as the legal arm of the anti-immigrant movement, sided with orders to halt administrative closure, a temporary procedure where a judge removes a case from their docket without issuing a decision. IRLI called administrative closure “a vast amnesty-by-stealth for deportable aliens.” Reynaldo Castro-Tum entered the U.S. in 2014 as a 17-year-old unaccompanied minor and was apprehended by Border Patrol. He failed to appear at any subsequent removal proceedings and in 2016 an immigration judge concluded his case through administrative closure. The Board of Immigration Appeals took up the case but Sessions, using his position as Attorney General stayed a decision by the Board and reviewed the case himself. Sessions’ decision to end administrative closure means that 350,000 low priority immigration cases that were closed by judges now have the possibility of being recalendared, meaning that a different outcome, including deportation, could follow for the immigrants involved.

On May 21, the White House doubled down on President Trump’s dangerous rhetoric referring to MS-13 gang members as animals. In a May 17 blog, FAIR’s director of research, Matt O’Brien wrote, “Predictably, the mainstream media suffered a crippling attack of the politically correct vapors.” Another FAIR staffer, Jennifer Hickey, went one further and wrote, “The media’s response showcases a bias against the president’s immigration agenda that prevents them from recognizing some MS-13 members are worse than animals.” Dave Ray, also of FAIR, compiled a list of crimes committed by MS-13 gang members and titled it “MS-13 Gang Members ‘Animals?’ You Decide?”

On May 24, President Trump nominated Ronald W. Mortensen, a fellow with the anti-immigrant hate group Center for Immigration Studies* (CIS), as assistant secretary of state for the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration. The Bureau’s mission is “to provide protection, ease suffering, and resolve the plight of persecuted and uprooted people around the world on behalf of the American people…” If approved by the Senate, Mortensen would be the fifth individual from an anti-immigrant hate group to join the Trump administration. Mortensen’s former colleague, longtime CIS staffer Jon Feere, left CIS in 2017 to take a position as a senior advisor to ICE deputy director Thomas Homan. Mortensen has written for CIS since 2009 and co-founded the anti-immigrant Utah Coalition on Illegal Immigration. Against the evidence, he repeatedly paints immigrants as criminals who have no allegiance to the United States. Just last year, Mortensen wrote a piece in The Hill titled, “Most illegal aliens routinely commit felonies.” In it he states bluntly, “The myth of the law abiding illegal alien is just that: a myth.” 

On June 5, ICE deputy director Thomas Homan participated in an event hosted by the anti-immigrant hate group Center for Immigration Studies (CIS). Last year, former CIS staffer Jon Feere was appointed to serve as Homan’s special adviser and Homan himself has made a number of hardline, anti-immigrant statements. In June 2017, Homan sounded a warning to undocumented immigrants: “If you’re in this country illegally… you should be uncomfortable. You should look over your shoulder, and you need to be worried.” Homan, like Trump and the broader anti-immigrant movement, has made attacking so-called sanctuary cities a priority. In January 2018, Homan threatened elected officials in these jurisdictions, telling Fox News, “We gotta take [sanctuary cities] to court and we gotta start charging some of these politicians with crimes." In April, Homan announced that he will resign this summer. His resignation comes at a time when ICE is under major scrutiny for militaristic worksite raids and separating migrant parents from their children. Homan’s visit drew the ire of New York Rep. Joe Crowley, who sent a letter to Homan’s office that read, “It is highly inappropriate for a senior official of a federal agency to engage with a group that spreads such abhorrent viewpoints, including white supremacism and anti-Semitism, and I urge you to immediately retract your plans to speak.”

Local groups

A number of anti-immigrant groups based in Southern California continued their efforts to push cities to take a stance against California’s sanctuary city state law, SB54. The campaign, started by FAIR and IRLI, has resulted in over 25 cities voting to oppose SB54 to date. A small band of local, anti-immigrant activists has traveled throughout Southern California in recent months to testify in opposition to SB54. The activists have espoused antisemitic, anti-LGBT and vile nativist rhetoric at a number of these meetings, as documented by local media and Hatewatch. We the People Rising, one the most active anti-immigrant groups in Southern California, is one of the groups coordinating the local anti-sanctuary effort. We the People Rising head Robin Hvidston sends weekly emails encouraging anti-immigrant activists to attend the city council meetings.  

On May 27, anti-immigrant activists participated in a rally in support of Travis Allen, a California gubernatorial candidate in Otay Mesa. Jeff Schwilk, a former leader of the San Diego Minutemen and current head of San Diegans for Secure Borders* (SDSB) circulated an email to supporters on May 28, praising the rally. SDSB previously endorsed Allen due to his views on immigration.

Legislation

ProEnglish*, another group founded by white nationalist John Tanton, continues to be busy at the state level pushing English-only legislation. On May 30, ProEnglish sent an email to its supporters praising the passage of a bill through Arizona’s state legislature that prevents insurance contracts in any other language than English from being valid. ProEnglish’s executive director Stephen Guschov, wrote in the email, “It reinforces English’s historic role as Arizona’s and as America’s common, unifying language, and ProEnglish hopes that other states soon will follow Arizona’s example and pass similar legislation.”

In their own words

CIS head Mark Krikorian continued to target people from the Middle East by calling them “goatherds.” On June 3, he tweeted about the “gang of toothless goatherds” in Yemen and on May 21, he referred to an unspecified country as “Goatherdistan.”

On, May 21, 2018, Iowa Rep. Steve King, a longtime ally of anti-immigrant groups, defended President Trump’s use of the term “animals” to describe the gang MS-13. King tweeted, “President @realdonaldtrump how many rabid, violent MS-13 animals do mayors like @LibbySchaaf allow to prey on our citizens when they obstruct ICE raids? Too many!”

Upcoming events

On June 19, the Houston-based Texans for Immigration Reduction and Enforcement* (TFIRE) will host its next meeting. Larry Korkmars, the groups leader is scheduled to speak along with anti-immigrant activist Janet Thomas.

 

 

 

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