Anti-Immigrant Leaders Call Obama Policy “Treasonous”

Last Friday, President Obama announced that he will halt deportation proceedings for some DREAM-eligible youth and allow them to apply for work authorization. This announcement was met with a mix of relief and optimism from those in the immigrant rights community. Predictably, the anti-immigrant crowd is in an uproar over the Administration’s new policy and responded with conspiracy theories, calls for Obama’s impeachment and accusations of treason.

Although providing relief to DREAM youth is a move supported by the majority of Americans, the anti-immigrant movement used the announcement as an opportunity to inflame its core base of far-right extremists.

National anti-immigrant groups, many of which have ties to white nationalism and anti-Semitism, responded swiftly and vehemently to the announcement. Dan Stein of the anti-immigrant group Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) a group founded by white nationalist John Tanton stated, “This is a blatant abuse of executive power that ignores the will of Congress and the American people. The Obama administration is engaging in a shameless display of political pandering to satisfy a narrow slice of its party.”

Mark Krikorian, a noted Islamophobe and head of the nativist Center for Immigration Studies stated, “Any DREAM Act supporter who applauds this measure has forfeited any right to complain about future usurpation of the Constitution. Even backers of DREAM in Congress have a responsibility to deny funding to DHS to carry out this policy.”

NumbersUSA, the grassroots organizer of the anti-immigrant network stated, “Yes, the President has created one humdinger of a fraud machine now. And we thought that he couldn’t top ‘prosecutorial discretion.’ Ha!”

The anti-immigrant state groups had the most aggressive tone to their responses to the announcement. A spokesperson for the Georgia-based anti-immigrant group Dustin Inman Society called stated, “It is treason. The president of the United States swears an oath to enforce the laws of this country and he has not even done that. He has not even enforced the immigration laws we have on the books.”

The leader of Rhode Islanders for Immigration Law Enforcement called the policy change an “atrocity.”

The anti-immigrant coalition So-Cal Patriots sent around an email stating, “The ‘Commander in Chief’ has now fully crawled into bed with law-breakers and Mexican organized crime.  The word “impeachment” is already being thrown around.  The word ‘prison’ is probably more appropriate.  This is an illegal, criminal act by a rogue, desperate dictator, period.”

The Minuteman Political Action Committee also attacked Obama stating, “It’s here, just like we knew it would be – Obama’s DREAM Act Executive Order.  Taking a cue from the successful election tactics of France’s new SOCIALIST president, Barack Hussein Obama will STOP DEPORTING ALL ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS who entered this country at a young age, and it’s starting TODAY! “

Two of the major nativists in Congress, Rep. Steve King of Iowa and Lamar Smith of Texas both had strong words for Obama. King, who recently compared immigrants to dogs, said that he will sue the Obama Administration for taking this policy change. Lamar Smith, who frequently invites members of the national anti-immigrant groups to testify before Congress, stated, President Obama’s decision to grant amnesty to potentially millions of illegal immigrants is a breach of faith with the American people.  It also blatantly ignores the rule of law that is the foundation of our democracy.”

The far-right’s rhetoric is a far cry from the response of Republican leadership. Romney indicated that while he didn’t agree with Obama’s timing, if elected he would seek comprehensive immigration reform and that it would include “long-term” solution for undocumented youth who came here as children.

The anti-immigrant reaction to Obama’s announcement amounted to little more than outlandish criticism of the President, but the policy change will surely spur anti-immigrant groups to intensify their efforts. The change is a big blow to their “attrition through enforcement” approach but certainly not a fatal one.

Cross-Post: Kobach Comments on the DREAM Policy Changes

ThinkProgress published comments from anti-immigrant lawyer Kris Kobach yesterday on the Obama Administrations announcement that they will not be deporting many DREAM Act immigrants. Kobach is an adviser on immigration for GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney:

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R), an immigration adviserto the Romney campaign, said President Obama’s new policy to not deport DREAM Act-eligible youth is “deeply troubling.”

Kobach, who wrote the extreme anti-immigrant laws in Alabama and Arizona, told ThinkProgress that the “deferred action” policy was “illegal” because it violates a section of the 1996 Immigration Reform Act. “What the president is describing is a policy that we will refuse to initiate deportation proceedings,” which Kobach said goes against current law.

But Kobach’s position appears to be at odds with Mitt Romney’s position, who did not say if he would reverse the president’s directive protecting undocumented students. Romney also said he agrees with Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL). Earlier today, Rubio said Obama’s announcement would be “welcome news for many of these kids desperate for an answer,” but called it a short-term answer for the nation’s immigration policy. Rubio has floated the idea of introducing his own version of the DREAM Act, but has not yet introduced a bill.

Continue reading here.


How will Obama Administration’s Announcement Impact Dreamers?

Photo by Antonio Villaraigosa

The Obama Administration announced today a major move to grant deferred action to DREAM-eligible youth. The announcement arrives as a result of growing criticism from undocumented youth and immigrant rights activists over what is largely perceived as a failure by Obama to keep his promises to immigrant communities.

Last week, the American Immigration Lawyers Association called the prosecutorial discretion policy a “failure,” noting the minuscule percentage of cases that have been closed under the policy. In Utah, the state Attorney General had to send ICE Director John Morton a personal email in order to stop the deportation of three mothers who had been living in Salt Lake since their childhood.

While the news comes as a relief to many who have watched the Administration carry out record-breaking deportations - more than any other U.S. president since Eisenhower - many remain skeptical that this new policy will provide the relief it promises.

“I feel like it’s the same thing he said a year ago,” said Luis Serrano, one of the undocumented youth currently occupying the Oakland Organizing For America office. “It’s prosecutorial discretion, just like the last memo.”

Undocumented youth currently occupying Obama campaign offices in Michigan, California and Ohio have vowed to stay put until it’s clear that all DREAM eligible youth will benefit.  Those activists were pushing for an Executive Order which would have carried the full force of the law.

Janet Napolitano, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, stated that those who demonstrate that they meet the criteria will be eligible to be taken out of deportation proceedings for at least two years and will be eligible to work. She iterated that immigration laws are not meant to be “blindly enforced without consideration given to the individual circumstances of each case. Nor are they designed to remove productive young people to countries where they may not have lived or even speak the language.”

By coming from Napolitano and not Morton, the memorandum does have some additional weight. However, local ICE offices have shown themselves to be averse to policy directives from Washington.

Some are calling this the most significant immigration policy in decades; however, until the details of its implementation are known, many remain cautiously optimistic.


The DREAM Act Challenge to FAIR

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) is throwing his name on two immigration bills this year in a play for Latino support in the upcoming election.  In May, Rubio co-sponsored the START 2.0 Act, which would offer immigrants with advanced degrees in Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics a path to citizenship. He also has plans to introduce his own version of the DREAM Act. Rubio’s version of DREAM is just the most recent in a series of similar bills introduced over the last ten years.

In response, the anti-immigrant group Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) released a new video and petition condemning the DREAM Act. The video pushes for the “enforcement of immigration policy, not free passes,” and falsely blames undocumented students for sky-rocketing tuition, scarce scholarships, work study programs, and unemployment.

Furthermore, even though Rubio’s DREAM Act provides only conditional permanent residency with very specific age restriction and application conditions, FAIR condemns it and instead calls for us to punish undocumented children for the “crimes” of their parents. FAIR, as is widely known, was founded by white nationalist John Tanton.

Anti-immigrant legislation and groups like FAIR seek to isolate undocumented residents and make it impossible for them to live with any sense of security or opportunity.

Although 12 states grant in-state tuition for undocumented students, others either ban undocumented students altogether or make higher education so financially non-viable that students never seek their full potential.  A crackdown on education is senseless and unconstitutional. In 1982, the Supreme Court found that all children living in the United States have the right to a public education, whatever their immigration status.

We have made an investment in these students and now FAIR and other anti-immigrant groups want to deport them. That’s the opposite of fair.

Anti-Immigrant Leaders Meet With Speaker of the House in North Carolina

The leaders of the main anti-immigrant groups in North Carolina met with the current Speaker of the House, Thom Tillis today. The leaders of anti-immigrant groups, NC FIRE, NC Listen and Americans for Legal Immigration PAC among others met with the Speaker to discuss a potential new voter ID bill. To learn more about NC Listen, NC FIRE or Americans for Legal Immigration PAC, click the links.


Arizona News Station Takes Down Controversial Anti-Immigrant Leader

Although belated, KGUN 9 in Arizona deserves some praise for a tremendous take-down of William Gheen, president of Americans for Legal Immigration PAC.

“…[A]nd if attacked vigorously, we’ll defend ourselves with equal vigor,” said Forrest Carr, News Director at KGUN 9 in a statement posted on their site about the conflict.

Gheen has always had a zero-tolerance approach to anyone who differs in opinion from him, leading him into public controversies any normal person would be ashamed of, so the dust-up is typical behavior from the PAC president. Last year, Gheen took on the Church of Latter-Day Saints, hoping to challenge their influence in Utah. In 2010, Gheen also caused a stir when he demanded that Senator Linsdey Graham (R-SC) reveal whether or not he was gay, and if the Democrats were using this “secret” to blackmail him into supporting immigration reform.

KGUN9 defended itself after Gheen attacked the station for a viewer-submitted question it asked GOP congressional contender Jesse Kelly, whom ALIPAC endorsed, that discussed ALIPAC’s connections to white nationalist groups. We’ve reported before on Gheen giving his attention to the anti-Semitic American Free Press, and the same problem has been around for years for other Arizona GOP hopefuls. JD Hayworth had to answer some uncomfortable questions about ALIPAC when Sen. John McCain called the group’s associations into question in 2010. That began a multi-day fracas with Gheen, eventually leading him to say that KGUN 9 had “blood on its hands” and make other absurd claims.

KGUN 9 eventually laid down the law in a lengthy open letter, not about to have its credibility unwarrantedly questioned, let alone by someone like Gheen. After pulling out some of Gheen’s trademark race war-evocative slogans, The letter concluded by asking Gheen: “You and your media-slandering friends should try this logic on for size: if journalists are supporters, upholders and defenders of democracy, and you have declared us to be your enemy, what does that make you?”

Read the full letter, titled “PAC of Lies” here:


Anti-immigrant and Other Far-Right Figures Appear at CPAC Chicago

Last Friday, conservatives from the Chicagoland area and beyond gathered for the first Chicago CPAC event. Unlike this years CPAC event in Washington DC there was no panel on the issue of immigration and, thankfully, there were no white nationalists invited to participate in any of the Chicago events. Despite the lack of immigration panels on the agenda, anti-immigrant leaders and publications were present at the event. Also present were characters associated with the far-right.

Attending the event was Jeff Lewis of the anti-immigrant FIRE Coalition. Lewis, based in North Carolina, heads a group that provides grassroots support for the anti-immigrant movement. FIRE Coalition held an event in 2010 with FAIR and State Legislators for Legal Immigration founder Daryl Metcalfe along with the Oath Keepers and others in the Patriot movement. Lewis and the Coalition recently formed a partnership with the Immigration Tea Party and Foreign National Crime Information Center in an attempt to promote Rep. Walter Jones’ (R-NC) H.R. 3168, The Illegal Alien Crime Reporting Act of 2011, and designate November 6th as “The National Day of Remembrance for the Victims of Illegal Aliens.” Another man who attended the CPAC event was Nicholas Hahn, formerly of the DePaul Conservative Alliance, the far-right student group at DePaul University in Chicago. The Alliance invited a host of far-right characters to DePaul in the late 2000s including minuteman leader Chris Simcox and Islamophobe David Horowitz. The Alliance also held an “Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week” and held an “Affirmative Action Bake Sale.”

At the CPAC event, articles written by anti-immigrant activist Frosty Wooldridge were also distributed. It is unclear if Wooldridge was actually at the conference but articles authored by him were circulating. The Colorado based Wooldridge sits on the board of advisers of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), a group founded by white nationalist John Tanton. Wooldridge’s statements and writings also contain strains of white nationalism. Wooldridge recently sent an email to Imagine2050 stating, “Somali’s [sic] plight is real and, as I said, if you feed them, they will add another 10 million starving children. That’s a biological fact. Africa at 1 billion will hit 3.1 billion in 90 years. They create their own human misery.”

As we can see, events such as CPAC not only attract run-of-the-mill conservatives, but many associated with the far-right of the Republican Party.

New Voter Laws Target Minorities

Gov Rick Scott (R-FL)

We need to stop this voting purge.

As a recent series in the Village Voice reported, 41 states are trying or have succeeded in making it more difficult to register and vote this November.  NYU’s Brennan Center for Justice estimates that millions of voters could be turned away at the polls.

For example, here in Florida, an important swing state in the upcoming election, Gov. Scott (R-FL) is purging the voter rolls, explaining that he’s concerned that illegal voting is taking place.  If people are suspected of being “illegal” voters, then they must prove they are “legal.”

The Tea Party Governor used the records of the DMV to identify people who might be non-citizens.  However, this information is unreliable.

Out of the thousands of people that the state is targeting, so far they have only found 2 people who possibly voted when they shouldn’t have.

But the damage is being done: 87% of the voters “targeted” are minorities.  According to the Miami Herald, most of the people asked to prove their citizenship are Independents and Democrats.  However, statistics show if you are white and vote Republican, you are less likely to be targeted.

Bill Internicola, 91 year-old veteran

Such craziness even affected a 91 year-old World War II veteran.  Gov. Scott’s purging program mailed a letter to a Bill Internicola, saying that he was not a U.S. citizen (see sample letter).  This man was born in Brooklyn, NY, and fought for our country, but he has to prove that he is an eligible voter.

Gov. Scott ignored the fact that he is violating the National Voting Rights Act of 1993 that prevents removing voters from the rolls within 90 days of an election.

The following chart from ThinkProgress shows that many of the targeted voters are in immigrant-rich Miami, and many people did not respond to the letter.  Therefore, citizens will be purged from the voter rolls by not responding.  Gov. Scott’s plan is discouraging eligible voters just in time for the fall election.

Although the Federal government has ordered this purge to stop and the ACLU is suing Florida, Gov. Scott is determined to continue.

We need to speak up and stop this purging.  Please sign this petition to stop Gov. Scott’s voter suppression.



CultureStrike Hits Netroots Nation

Thanks to CultureStrike for posting this video!

Watch live streaming video from fstvnewswire at

Check out this panel on the dynamics of art, culture and politics with Favianna Rodriguez, Gan Golan, Cloee Cooper, Betsy Richards and Julio Salgado at Netroots Nation 2012.

A description from the Netroots Nation website (and check out the simultweeting from other #NN12 peeps):

Culture is the realm of ideas, images and stories; it is where people make sense of the world and where they find meaning and forge community. History shows that when the culture changes, politics follows. Culture can reach audiences beyond the bounds of what community organizing and policy-based organizing can do. While the media is laced with myths, stereotypes and misrepresentation of grassroots movements, cultural interventions can play a key role in pushing forward stories that help shift the public debate. A growing movement of artists around the country are using cultural tools to fight economic inequality, corporations, banks and anti-migrant hate. In this session, artist-activists, writers, cultural leaders and creative institutions will discuss models for connecting artists to movements for social change.

After Losing on the Legislative Front, Militiamen Return to the Arizona Border

Just weeks after JT Ready’s horrific murder-suicide, the Arizona militia movement is gearing up for a resurgence along the southern border.

Militia movements have a way of attracting violent murderers of innocent children, as well as neo-Nazis, but I repeat myself. The Arizona legislature took up a bill this year that would have organized this rag-tag collection of right-wing miscreants into a volunteer fighting force that served at the whim of Jan Brewer. The legislature, fortunately, chickened out.

“We have now washed our hands of our state’s legislature,” said Jack Foote, a militia leader in Arizona, obviously miffed at the decision not to create the force. “Now we are going to do things our own way.”

One well-known extremist, Glenn Spencer, who sees himself as fighting against “globalism,” recently announced that he is retiring from the blogosphere to go back on patrol with the militia group he founded, the American Border Patrol. “Open borders and the free flow of people across them are vital to the globalist’s agenda,” Spencer said. The Center for Immigration Studies, which attempts to cast itself as moderate and “pro-immigrant,” included a link to this violent extremist group in a press release.

Despite their constant repetition of screeds like “the law is the law” or “illegal is illegal,” border militants don’t see the contradiction in trying to take the law into their own hands.

JT Ready, the former neo-Nazi and head of the “US Border Guard” that patrolled the desert of Pinal County, tried to make the jump from border militant to credentialed law man to advance his mission. Ready was running for sheriff when he killed four people before killing himself. As the Daily Beast points out, we’ve seen a ratcheting up of gun rhetoric in politics over the past two election cycles, from Sharron Angle’s “Second Amendment remedies” and Scott Beason’s “empty the clip” solution to immigration—it’s no surprise that someone just might take it literally. Namely, people like Spencer and Ready who see themselves as soldier in a wider war.

Militia activity on the border had been dialed down over the past few years, by and large because the Arizona legislature was just as crazy as they were. However, they weren’t crazy enough to formally fund the militias, especially with a poster boy like JT Ready.

Anti-immigrant pundits and spokespersons are constantly recasting immigration as an “invasion.” Arizona, which has been out front on legislating against immigrants, came to the precipice of declaring war on them (as much as a state can declare war, that is). But what does Arizona care about petty things like the Constitution, anyway?