Xenophobia

Meet the Shady Network of Immigration Opponents Donald Trump Loves to Cite

They see an America in which migrants are would-be rapists and definite job-thieves.

Donald Trump is married (for the second time) to an immigrant. But you wouldn’t have guessed that from his RNC convention speech, which characterized immigrants as violent, murderous predators who come to the U.S. to slaughter young women and steal men’s jobs.

As for Republican advocates of comprehensive immigration reform? They’re horrified.

Trump’s team blasted out links to Trump’s remarks, including detailed footnotes showing the sources for his factual claims. And, unsurprisingly, many of Trump’s arguments are based on data from organizations funded by radical population control environmentalist activists. For instance, he cited a report from the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) to undergird his argument that the federal government enables crime by not deporting more undocumented immigrants.

FAIR was founded by John Tanton, a virulently anti-immigrant nativist who has associated with white supremacists and dabbled in eugenics. He and his allies also fear that human population growth—particularly in the First World—jeopardizes the environment. Thus, they also back pro-abortion groups. This fact has left many on the right deeply concerned about citing their research or affiliating with their leaders. But not Trump.

Trump’s speech also cited the Center for Immigration Studies—another group Tanton founded and helps fund. His team cited three reports from CIS to support his assertions that immigration hurts American workers and that the federal government isn’t deporting enough undocumented immigrants.

Along with NumbersUSA, CIS, and FAIR provide the intellectual and organizational firepower for the immigration restrictionist movement. Their data and scholars are omnipresent in efforts to demonize immigrants, and they were all major presences during the 2013 Gang of 8 comprehensive immigration reform debate. Tanton and his funding link the three together.

Pro-immigration conservatives loathe the Tanton network.

“It’s utterly unsurprising that a liberal trying to masquerade as a conservative would cite a bunch of lefty, zero-population growth, pro-abortion, forced sterilization wackadoodles and their offshoot organization in making his case for policy that is totally anti-free-market and right in line with policy that was also strongly advocated by hard-left, 20th century labor unions,” said Liz Mair, a Republican consultant who favors immigration reform.

In the pre-Trump era, these groups found themselves pushed to the margins of the conservative conversation on immigration. They never fully lost traction—thanks in part to powerful devotees in the talk-radio world and immigration-restrictionist stalwarts like Reps. Steve King and Louie Gohmert—but they had trouble. For several years, CPAC declined to give them airtime.

In the meantime, the Republican National Committee made an explicit effort to change the party’s rhetoric on immigration.

“If Hispanic Americans perceive that a GOP nominee or candidate does not want them in the United States (i.e., self-deportation), they will not pay attention to our next sentence,” read the autopsy report it released after Obama handily won his re-election bid in 2012. “It does not matter what we say about education, jobs or the economy; if Hispanics think we do not want them here, they will close their ears to our policies.”

That dream is dead. Instead, Trump characterized immigrants as murderous, dangerous, and barbaric. The Obama administration, he said, was happy to sacrifice children on “the altar of open borders.” A woman murdered by an undocumented was, for the administration, “one more American life that wasn’t worth protecting” in Trump’s telling. He didn’t say a single good thing about immigration.

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In his America, migrants are would-be rapists and definite job-thieves.

It is, in the literal sense, a story of xenophobia—a view of the world predicated on the notion that anyone from a foreign country should be feared.