Report: Far-Right Anti-Immigration Hardliners Join Immigration Agencies

Foreign nationals were arrested this week during a targeted enforcement operation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) aimed at immigration fugitives, re-entrants and at-large criminal aliens.
Bryan Cox/U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

Two anti-undocumented immigration hardliners have been hired as top advisers at Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection, CNN reported Wednesday.

Jon Feere, formerly of the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), will advise acting ICE Director Thomas D. Homan, Homeland Security spokesperson David Lapan confirmed to the network. Lapan also confirmed that the former executive director of the Federation for American Immigration (FAIR) Reform, Julie Kirchner, had been hired as an adviser acting CBP Commissioner Kevin McAleenan.

DHS did not respond to TPM’s request to confirm the appointments.

Feere, a fierce critic of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, implemented by the Obama administration, once used the 2013 bombing of the Boston marathon to argue for denying a path to citizenship to immigrants who come to America as young adults. (Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the younger of the two brothers behind the bombing, was 8 years old when he arrived in the United States.)

“These amnesty advocates have concluded that foreigners who enter the United States by their teenage years are fully American, and consequently not a threat,” he wrote, “even though our nation’s experience with Boston bombers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev suggests otherwise.”

He applied a similar argument to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

In August 2015, Feere argued that Trump could limit birthright citizenship to exclude Americans born on U.S. soil to undocumented parents.

CIS, which describes itself as advocating “Low Immigration, Pro Immigrant” policies, has been extensively criticized for poorly modeled reports on the impact of immigration on the United States, many of which have found their way into mainstream conservative media outlets. Mitt Romney referenced center’s work as a candidate for president, and CIS’ reports appeared in Donald Trump’s campaign ads.

Kirchner, who CNN noted worked as an immigration adviser for Trump’s campaign, was executive director of FAIR for 10 years, from 2005 to 2015. In January, the Southern Poverty Law Center reported that she had been appointed as CBP’s chief of staff, but the agency confirmed to Mother Jones only that she was “an advisor to the commissioner’s office” and that “her status hasn’t changed.”

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, himself once considered for a Trump administration job, helped write an aggressive immigration enforcement law while he worked for FAIR’s legal arm, Immigration Reform Law Institute.

Arizona’s SB 1070 law allowed law enforcement to ask people for proof of citizenship based on their suspicion that an individual was undocumented. The Supreme Court later struck down much of the law.

The founder of both CIS and FAIR, John Tanton, SPLC noted, once wrote that “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.”

In 1996, he asked the eugenicist Robert Graham in a letter: “Do we leave it to individuals to decide that they are the intelligent ones who should have more kids? And more troublesome, what about the less intelligent, who logically should have less? Who is going to break the bad news [to less intelligent individuals], and how will it be implemented?”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Matt Shuham is a news writer for TPM. He was previously assistant editor of The National Memo and managing editor of the Harvard Political Review. He is available by email at mshuham@talkingpointsmemo.com and on Twitter @mattshuham.
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