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ICE Deputy Director to Appear at Hate Group Gathering

The ties between the Trump immigration team and hate groups become more explicit every day. Word came today that ICE’s deputy director Thomas Homan is appearing this morning at an event called by the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), an innocuous-sounding far-right group. CIS is on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s national list of hate groups.

CIS was founded in 1985 by white nationalist leader John Tanton to provide a veneer of respectability to his efforts to push for the exclusion of non-white peoples from immigrating to America. CIS issues seemingly scholarly reports in support of the White Nationalist agenda of mass deportations of undocumented immigrants and Muslims and advocates virtually ending family-based immigration.

Donald Trump’s presidential campaign frequently referenced CIS propaganda in support of the candidate’s often wild claims about the dangers of immigrants. The White House lead on immigration policy, Steve Miller, has long been an ally of CIS and he often parrots the group’s talking points.

ICE deputy director Homan’s own adviser, Jon Feere, comes from inside of CIS and Homan has purposely stirred-up fear in immigrant communities. Last year, when asked how he responded to the panics ICE raids had set off in immigrant neighborhoods he responded that if a person was undocumented, “you should be uncomfortable. You should look over your shoulder, and you need to be worried.”

Because of CIS’s ties to eugenicist and white supremacist groups, Federal policy makers had avoided appearing to support them in the past. Of course, that past seems like an eternity ago today. Trump has filled up his immigration policy team with veterans of CIS and the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) its more populist ally in the Tanton Network.

Last week, Trump announced that a fellow at CIS would head refugee policy at the Department of State. Long-time CIS fellow Ronald Mortensen of Utah was nominated to be Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration at the State Department.  In his work for CIS, Mortensen has repeatedly attacked refugees, DREAMers protected by DACA, and other beneficiaries of the humanitarian protection programs of the United States. He has also set out to sow division by claiming, for example, that poor care by the Veterans’ Administration is caused by undocumented immigrants.

CIS and the other Tanton Network groups grew out the fears of white decline by network founder John Tanton. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC):

The Center for Immigration Studies, like the rest of the organized anti-immigrant movement we see in America today, was founded by John Tanton, a Michigan ophthalmologist turned population control alarmist whose racist beliefs stirred him to create a network of organizations with a simple agenda: heavily restricting the immigration levels to the United States in order to maintain a white majority. As Tanton himself wrote in 1993, "I've come to the point of view that for European-American society and culture to persist requires a European-American majority, and a clear one at that."

This network continues to work together and has been strengthened by the regular use of its talking points by the president. 

Pat Young is an attorney at CARECEN on Long island and Special Professor of Immigration Law at Hofstra University. 

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