A conference sponsored by the Maryland Conservative Action Network is due to take place in Annapolis on January 12, 2013. The conference, titled “Turning the Tides 2013” brings together many of the main anti-immigrant voices in the state as well as some speakers known for their anti-Muslim statements and associations.
The conference is the latest example of anti-immigrant activity in Maryland. Anti-immigrant activists were instrumental in gathering enough signatures to put a measure on the ballot in the November 2012 election seeking to undo a law that granted in-state tuition to undocumented immigrants at public colleges in the state. The in-state tuition bill was originally signed into law in 2011. Despite the efforts of anti-immigrant activists, a majority of Maryland voters voted in favor of granting in-state tuition. Many of the anti-immigrant activists involved in getting the issue on the ballot are due to speak at the January 12 conference.
Scheduled speakers at the event include:
Brad Botwin – founder of the anti-immigrant group Help Save Maryland (HSM). Botwin’s group is listed on the website of the largest anti-immigrant group in the country, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), as a state contact. Botwin’s group has co-sponsored events with FAIR and other national groups, such as the Virginia-based NumbersUSA. HSM also worked with FAIR’s legal arm, the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI).
Neil Parrott – Republican House of Delegates member representing District 2B. Parrott is a member of State Legislators for Legal Immigration (SLLI), a coalition of state lawmakers who work with IRLI to draft and introduce anti-immigrant legislation in their states. Parrott was chairman of the petition group that successfully put the in-state tuition law on the ballot in November.
Pamela Geller – co-founder of Stop the Islamization of America (SOIA), a group seeking to rouse public fears about a “vast Islamic conspiracy” to destroy American values. Geller also works closely with far-right groups and figures in Europe, such as the English Defense League (EDL) and anti-Muslim Dutch politician Geert Wilders.
Diana West – author and journalist who writes about the “dangers” of Islam. In a September 15, 2012 post on her website, West wrote “Indeed, it is this basic Islamic censorship that is at the crux of why Islam itself -- not ‘Islamism,’ not ‘radical Islam,’ not ‘Islamists’" but Islam -- is an existential threat to the survival of any free society.” In 2007, West met with members of the racist and xenophobic Belgian political party Vlaams Belang.