Two white nationalists and hardline opponents of illegal immigration are now high-level advisers at federal immigration agencies in the Department of Homeland Security under the Trump administration. Both have previously had leadership roles at organizations labeled as hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center, a nonprofit civil rights organization that has been tracking hate groups since the 1980s, reports Maria Santana.
According to Homeland Security spokesman David Lapan, the former legal policy analyst for the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), Jon Feere, is now an adviser to Thomas D. Homan, the acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
“CIS and FAIR are think tanks… whose more extreme views on illegal immigration and undocumented immigrants have earned them hate group designations by the Southern Poverty Law Center,” says Santana.
Julie Kirchner, the former executive director of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) has been hired as an adviser to Customs and Border Protection acting Commissioner Kevin McAleenan, said Lapan. Kirchner was an immigration adviser to Trump’s presidential campaign before her appointment to CBP.
“The Anti-Defamation League, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that fights anti-Semitism,” notes Santana, “has also criticized both groups for frequently publishing the works of and collaborating with known anti-Semites and Holocaust deniers.”
“Pro-enforcement” organizations claim that as clear stakeholders in the immigration debate they have every right to be at quarterly ICE meetings that were first initiated during the Bush administration to allow pro-immigrant groups to gather information from ICE to ensure the safe and fair treatment of immigrants in their custody, Santana writes.
Pro-immigrant groups argue, however, that meeting with organizations whose mission is to restrict immigration and perpetuate hate against immigrants is not only highly unlikely to be productive but also has a chilling effect on immigrant participation.
Essentially the Trump administration is encouraging far-right fringe groups that regularly spread racist, xenophobic misinformation about immigrants co-opt meetings that were once designed to helped immigrants and were based on mutual respect. – Danielle Bizzarro