President Donald Trump was joined by sheriffs with ties to anti-immigrant hate group Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) last Friday as he vetoed legislation overturning his declaration of a national emergency and took a moment to deny a rise in white nationalism following the massacre at a mosque in New Zealand.
Trump used his first presidential veto to stop legislation overruling his declaration of a national emergency to fund a wall at the southwestern border.
He was joined by Vice President Mike Pence, Kirstjen Nielsen, the homeland security secretary, and three sheriffs with ties to the anti-immigrant hate group Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). These sheriffs include: Thomas Hodgson, who sits on FAIR’s National Board of Advisors, of Bristol County, Massachusetts, A.J. Louderback of Jackson County, Texas, and Mike Lewis of Wicomico County, Maryland.
FAIR, in its December 2005 – January 2006 newsletter noted, “Creating coalitions with police and sheriff’s [sic] departments all across the country to confront the issues posed by mass immigration has been a key FAIR goal for many years.”
The hate group realized these goals in 2011 when its staff met with sheriffs across the country.
“We identified sheriffs who expressed concerns about illegal immigration,” its annual report read, adding that FAIR staff “met with these sheriffs and their deputies, supplied them with a steady stream of information, established regular conference calls so they could share information and experiences, and invited them to come to Washington to meet with FAIR’s senior staff."
All three sheriffs attended FAIR’s annual Hold Their Feet to the Fire media event Sept. 5 and 6, 2018. Coinciding with the conference, FAIR helped facilitate a gathering of 49 sheriffs including Hodgson, Louderback and Lewis, to meet with politicians in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 5. The sheriffs met with Reps. Steve King, R-Iowa, Andrew Biggs, R-Ariz., Clay Higgins, R-La., and Mo Brooks, R-Ala., before attending a meeting on immigration reform at the White House with President Trump and Vice President Pence.
At the roundtable discussion with Pence, Louderback called for the expansion of 287(g). The program, with a history of complaints of racial profiling and discrimination, allows law enforcement to partner with ICE to enforce federal immigration laws.
Louderback and Hodgson are well-known and outspoken allies of the anti-immigrant movement. Louderback has attended FAIR’s annual media event and has appeared with anti-immigrant hate group Center for Immigration Studies (CIS). In December 2014, FAIR helped organize a trip for sheriffs around the country, including Louderback, to visit D.C. to speak out against actions taken by Obama to protect undocumented immigrants. In 2016, he participated in a CIS sponsored panel titled, “A Case Study of How Flawed Immigration Policy Begets Gang Violence.” In February 2018, Louderback joined Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies at CIS, as a witness in a House Judiciary Subcommittee hearing on Immigration and Border Security titled, “The Effect of Sanctuary City Policies on the Ability to Combat the Opioid Epidemic.”
Hodgson, during a radio interview at FAIR’s September 2018 media event, said the White House should use the Department of Motor Vehicles as a tool for immigration enforcement and called for the arrest of any elected official who supports sanctuary city policies. In his January 2017 swearing-in speech, he discussed the border wall saying, “I can think of no other project that would have such a positive impact on our inmates and our country than building this wall,” and offered to send Bristol County inmates to the border as labor to aid in its construction.
Sherriff Mike Lewis, minutes before he appeared in the Oval Office for Trump’s veto, wrote on his personal Facebook page, “This is not political propaganda. WITHOUT BORDER SECURITY, THERE IS NO HOMELAND SECURITY.” Lewis, also met with Trump in September 2018 and told a DelmarvaNow reporter, “The talks were good, and the ceremony was nice. It was very good to talk about immigration.”
The anti-immigrant movement continues to gain positions and clout in this administration. Earlier this month, Trump cited an erroneous report by FAIR claiming “illegal aliens are incarcerated at three times the rate of legal residents,” at the Conservative Political Action Conference.
FAIR and CIS were founded by John Tanton, the racist architect of the modern anti-immigrant movement who has white nationalist beliefs. Tanton has written that to maintain American culture, “a European-American majority” is required, a sentiment echoed in the manifesto posted by the New Zealand killer.
ABC senior national correspondent Terry Morgan took the opportunity to ask Trump, who signed the veto the day after the Christchurch mosque shootings in which 50 Muslims were killed, “Do you see white nationalism as a rising threat around the world?”
Flanked by the immigration hardliners celebrating the veto, Trump deflected connecting a rise in white nationalism to deadly violence. “I don’t. I don’t really. I think it’s a small group of people who have very, very serious problems. … But it’s certainly a terrible thing.”
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