In 2014, the issue of immigration sometimes generated a xenophobic or racist response from anti-immigrant activists. For example, the established anti-immigrant movement in the United States reacted angrily to unaccompanied minors fleeing violence in Central America and coming to this country by using vehemently anti-immigrant rhetoric. There are other examples, as well. Anti-immigrant groups and individuals attempted to link the issues of ISIS and Ebola with immigration, in an effort to create a climate of fear around the issue of immigration. In the buildup to and following President Obama’s announced executive actions on immigration, players in the anti-immigrant movement again espoused nativist sentiment. Below are most egregious examples of how racism and xenophobia manifested from anti-immigrant groups and individuals in 2014.
Anti-immigrant Activists Continue to Grant Interviews to Anti-Semites
Throughout 2014, staffers and board members with some of the most well established and influential anti-immigrant groups continued to use anti-Semitic media to promote their cause. In April of this year, Jessica Vaughan of the anti-immigrant think tank Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) granted an interview to reporter from the anti-Semitic newspaper American Free Press (AFP), founded by Holocaust denier Willis Carto. In March of 2014, Chris Chmielenski of the anti-immigrant group NumbersUSA, provided an interview to AFP. Also in 2014, Frosty Wooldridge, an advisory board member with the extreme anti-immigrant group Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) appeared on more than one occasion on “The Jeff Rense Program.” The program is a conspiracy-oriented Internet radio show broadcast on Rense’s notoriously anti-Semitic website.
FAIR Advisory Board Member Spouts White Nationalist Rhetoric in Anti-Semitic Paper
On November 9, Frosty Wooldridge, a FAIR advisory board member granted an interview with the anti-Semitic newspaper American Free Press (AFP). Wooldridge made a number of racist statements including, arguing that “[t]hose who practice Islam hold no ethnic identity with English and European culture.” Moreover, he continued “… the African worldview is totally different than that of Europeans. Their culture is diametrically opposed to ours. That’s why so many blacks are in prison.” Wooldridge went on to state, “Due to a fatherless society that plagues the black community, many teenagers join gangs. But I guarantee you, amid this racial strife, there will be more riots in the streets that’ll make Ferguson look like a kindergarten party. As this occurs, our country, our ethos, language and civilization are all going down.” For Wooldridge, the U.S. immigration policies mean, “we’re importing our demise as a civilization.” As previously mentioned, Wooldridge regularly grants interviews to anti-Semitic media outlets to promote his racist views.
Pro-English Attacks Super Bowl Ad Promoting America’s Diversity
Following the airing of a Super Bowl ad from Coca-Cola celebrating America’s diversity, the anti-immigrant group ProEnglish asked activists to contact the corporation and complain. ProEnglish claimed the ad “directly undermined the spirit of national unity ‘America, the Beautiful’ was intended to foster.” The group went one step further, claiming Coke should “promote civic unity, not disunity.”
Anti-immigrant Lawyer Implies Obama’s Executive Action Could Lead to Ethnic Cleansing
When asked on his radio show in November whether Obama’s actions would lead to ethnic cleansing, Kris Kobach, who is of counsel with Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI), the legal arm of FAIR, responded, “And the rule of law used to be unassailable, used to be taken for granted in America. And now, of course, we have a president who disregards the law when it suits his interests. So, while I normally would answer that by saying, ‘Steve, of course we have the rule of law, that could never happen in America,’ I wonder what could happen…”
CIS Staffer Suggests Being Hung, Drawn And Quartered is Too Good for President Obama
During a speech in July to The Highlands Tea Party in Sebring, Florida, Stephen Steinlight, the senior policy analyst for the anti-immigrant think tank Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) attacked President Obama for his immigration policies. In reference to President Obama’s policies, Steinlight stated, “I would think being hung, drawn and quartered is probably too good for him.”
Longtime Anti-immigrant Activists Behind Initial Protests Against Kids Fleeing Violence
Contrary to what the anti-immigrant movement would have you believe, the individuals and groups that helped to organize the initial protests against the unaccompanied minors from Central America were not just concerned citizens but rather longtime anti-immigrant activists. In Murrieta, California, protesters blocked buses of mothers and children from entering a DHS facility. Numerous anti-immigrant activists with close ties to the anti-immigrant movement flocked to Murrieta from all over Southern California to participate in these protests. Some of these protesters are closely tied to extreme elements of the anti-immigrant movement and have a history of making bigoted statements. In Vassar, Michigan, protesters with firearms took to the streets in opposition to the children. Tamyra Murray, a longtime anti-immigrant activist and state advisor for FAIR organized the protests. In Oracle, Arizona, the office of Penal County Sheriff Paul Babeu, a man closely tied to the anti-immigrant movement, claimed unaccompanied minors would be relocated to a location in the city. This sparked a protest where a school bus full of children from a summer camp was briefly stopped after being mistaken for unaccompanied minors.
Anti-immigrant Groups Attempt to Link Ebola with Immigration
As news broke of the first person inside the U.S. diagnosed with the deadly Ebola virus, anti-immigrant groups seized the opportunity to use this information as a way to speak out against “mass immigration.” CIS head Mark Krikorian called for an immediate travel ban for all of the affected nations. His colleague, Jessica Vaughan, equated Ebola patients with unaccompanied minors fleeing violence in Central America and seeking refuge in the United States, and claimed both are trying “to take advantage” of U.S. border policy. A writer for the racist website VDARE called for legislators to revisit to the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, which abolished racial quotas contained in previous immigration laws. White nationalist Peter Brimelow, the VDARE founder asked, “why does America need immigration from this famously unhealthy part of the world anyway?”
Anti-immigrant Groups Attempt to Bring ISIS into the Immigration Debate
In response to the atrocities committed in the Middle East by the terrorist group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), American anti-immigrant groups attempted to exploit the public’s legitimate concerns about ISIS by warning that the group plans to enter the United States via Mexico. The anti-immigrant grassroots organization NumbersUSA and the California-based Californians for Population Stabilization (CAPS) both sent fundraising emails to activists in August/September linking ISIS to President Obama’s announcement of some form of executive relief for undocumented immigrants. Some anti-immigrant groups are also responding to the media spotlight on ISIS by espousing anti-Muslim rhetoric. In a Facebook post on September 9, the Tea Party Immigration Coalition headed by racist Rick Oltman asserted, “We must rethink the 1st amendment as it applies to Islam. Islam is NOT a religion; rather, it is a supranational organization hell bent on world domination and killing anyone, anywhere and at any time to do so.”
Anti-immigrant Protesters Espouse Extreme Rhetoric on Nationwide Protest Days
On July 18 and 19, anti-immigrant activists around the country participated in a series of protests dubbed the “National Day Of Protesting Against Immigration Reform/Amnesty & Border Surge.” The sparsely attended protests not only attracted extremists, but many of the activists in attendance displayed signs with extreme rhetoric. Anti-immigrant activists protested outside of the United Nations building in New York City. One protester held a sign implying that “illegals” and “Obama” were “cockroaches.” Another protester yelled, “Bring us your smallpox, bring us your malaria, your scabies.” In San Diego, one protester held a sign with the Mexican flag which, read, in part, “yes, we sell humans, drugs, prostitution, the demise of your country.” Members of the white supremacist group European American Action Coalition (EAAC) attended a rally in Moosic, Pennsylvania. At the Moosic protest was a sign taped to the overpass where the protest took place which read, in part, “Illegal mestizos are bringing in leprosy and scabies…”