New ADL Study Details How Extreme Anti-Immigrant Hate Has Been Thrust Into the Mainstream

New report profiles people, efforts that brought anti-immigrant views to fore over past decade

New York, NY, November 29, 2018 … Extreme anti-immigrant views have gained legitimacy and become part of the mainstream political debate over the past 10 years through a concerted push by anti-immigrant groups and political figures, including President Trump, using stereotypes and outright bigotry to blame immigrants for various problems in America. That’s the conclusion of a new report by the ADL that examines how extreme views on immigrants and refugees have moved from the margins to being a centerpiece of the U.S. political debate.

The report, “Mainstreaming Hate: The Anti-Immigrant Movement in the U.S.,” takes a close look at those who have pushed anti-immigrant views from the fringes into the mainstream and how they have done it. “During the last two years in particular, an administration that demonizes immigrants and those seeking refuge and focused on hardline immigration policies and executive action has galvanized the anti-immigrant movement,” the report said. 

The study follows the president’s attempt to stoke fears about a caravan of migrants as they were headed toward the U.S. southern border and fresh FBI data showing an escalation in hate crimes, including a 24 percent rise last year in attacks against Latinos, the target of most anti-immigrant bigotry.

“Sadly, it’s plain for all to see that extreme anti-immigrant ideas are a common feature in our political discourse,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, ADL’s CEO and National Director. “We must take steps to remove this anti-immigrant ideology and xenophobia, and act on the U.S.’s longstanding belief that America is stronger as a pluralistic society that welcomes immigrants.”

As one example of how anti-immigrant views have been elevated, the report points out that activist groups have used theories and conspiracies to paint immigrants as outsiders who are planning to “invade” the country and take it over, or that they are sympathetic to terrorists or taking jobs from Americans. Groups like FAIR (Federation for Immigration Reform), the Center for Immigration Studies, NumbersUSA and the Remembrance Project and their members play a major role in promoting divisive, dangerous rhetoric and views that demonize immigrants while using stereotypes, conspiracy theories and outright bigotry to disparage immigrants and hold them responsible for a number of societal ills.

Meanwhile, white supremacist groups and other extremists, who share certain beliefs with those groups and often feed off of their rhetoric, have used anti-immigrant rhetoric to stir anti-Semitism by blaming Jews for encouraging non-white immigration to this country. These conspiracy theories can lead to deadly repercussions, the report says, pointing to the recent attack on a Pittsburgh synagogue by Robert Bowers, who had been exposed to these conspiracy theories and allegedly cited them shortly before carrying out his attack.

ADL’s report comes a decade after the organization released a report on the growing legitimacy of anti-immigrant groups. The new report details the mainstreaming of anti-immigrant rhetoric and how the demonization of immigrants has rapidly accelerated in the past decade, highlighting key events and figures.

"Heartened by politicians’ and political candidates’ attendance at political rallies … state and federal [immigration] policies and legitimized by invitations to testify before Congress, anti-immigrant activists and groups believe they are successfully transitioning into mainstream acceptable,” the report said.

To prevent extreme anti-immigrant ideas from taking hold, ADL urged elected officials and other leaders to forcefully denounce hatred and bigotry. Additionally, the report called on members of Congress to stop inviting known anti-immigrant groups to testify in hearings and forums.

In addition, ADL said the government, news media, and the public need to take a series of “intentional steps” to protect immigrants and refugees, including:

  • A pathway to citizenship for “Dreamers” and protection for refugees from Muslim majority countries;
  • Comprehensive immigration legislation that addresses the millions of undocumented individuals living in the U.S. and includes reforms to the current legal immigration system;
  • Improve reporting of hate crimes to the FBI and provide more anti-bias training to law enforcement;
  • Provide students with tools to combat hatred and bigotry and protect immigrant students;
  • Expand efforts between the government and social media and other technology platforms to counter extremism and bigotry online.

ADL is the world’s leading anti-hate organization. Founded in 1913 in response to an escalating climate of anti-Semitism and bigotry, its timeless mission is to protect the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment for all. Today, ADL continues to fight all forms of hate with the same vigor and passion. A global leader in exposing extremism, delivering anti-bias education, and fighting hate online, ADL is the first call when acts of anti-Semitism occur. ADL’s ultimate goal is a world in which no group or individual suffers from bias, discrimination or hate.