ICE senior adviser Jon Feere repeatedly promoted anti-refugee content from Alex Jones

ICE senior adviser Jon Feere repeatedly promoted anti-refugee content from Alex Jones

Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI


Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

Before joining the federal government, Jon Feere repeatedly tweeted out anti-refugee and anti-immigrant material from conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’ website Infowars. One of those links was to a notorious piece of anti-refugee content that was later changed due to significant factual errors.

Feere is a senior adviser for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) at the Department of Homeland Security. Previously, he worked for Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign and for the anti-immigrant group Center for Immigration Studies.

As Media Matters has noted, Feere is also an Ann Coulter superfan and has repeatedly promoted her bigoted columns against immigrants. (Coulter responded to that piece by attacking me for being Asian.) He also promoted the white nationalist site VDare on Twitter. 

Feere frequently promoted Infowars content despite the website’s history of sharing toxic conspiracy theories, especially against his future employer. Jones has claimed that the United States government perpetrated the 9/11 attacks, the mass shootings at Columbine and Sandy Hook, and the bombings in Oklahoma City and at the Boston Marathon, among others.

In June 2016, Feere promoted a notorious and inaccurate story about Syrian refugees. He linked to an Infowars piece by editor and frequent misinformer Paul Joseph Watson that was originally headlined “Report: Three Syrian ‘Refugees’ Rape Little Girl At Knifepoint In Idaho.” (The headline and details in the piece were later changed at an undisclosed time without the site noting the changes.)

Infowars was one of several right-wing publications that published a highly inaccurate story to demonize refugees. As Yahoo News reported in May 2017 of the coverage:

What had been a local story went national in June 2016, when the headline “Idaho: Muslim Migrants RAPE 5-year-old, hold KNIFE to her throat, strip her naked, rape, and urinate on her” appeared on the website of Pamela Geller. Geller is described by the extremist-group monitor Southern Poverty Law Center as the “anti-Muslim movement’s most visible and flamboyant figurehead,” and her pushing of the story immediately spread it to right-wing and antirefugee outlets. On the conspiracy site Infowars, the headline initially read “Report: Three Syrian ‘refugees’ rape little girl at knifepoint in Idaho” with the subhead “Furious residents accuse council of coverup.” Breitbart embedded a reporter in the city, producing a series of stories on the case and painting the area as a crime-infested wasteland.

The problem with the coverage was that there was no rape, no knife, no Syrians and no coverup. There was a horrific incident: On June 2, three refugees from Eritrea and Iraq, ages 7, 10 and 14, sexually assaulted a 5-year-old girl at a Twin Falls apartment complex. The boys eventually pleaded guilty to multiple charges and the records were sealed because those involved were minors. Some members of the community said the case was mishandled, but Twin Falls Police Chief Craig Kingsbury told the Times-News last month that “I’ve always felt that we followed proper protocol and procedure.” Both Kingsbury and the prosecutor, Grant Loebs, spoke publicly during the process.

The Times-News, the local paper in Twin Falls, ID, wrote in April 2017, “The incident touched off months of turmoil in Twin Falls after the story was spun into a fake news account that exaggerated or flat-out falsified many of the details, including that a knife was present, the attack was perpetrated by a Syrian gang of adult men, that a rape had occurred and that the attack was celebrated by the perpetrators’ families as city officials orchestrated a cover-up.” The New York Times also documented the fallout from right-wing coverage attacking Twin Falls in a piece by Caitlin Dickerson headlined “How Fake News Turned a Small Town Upside Down.”

In addition to tweeting the Twin Falls story, Feere also promoted Infowars content attacking refugees and immigrants.

Additionally, Feere repeatedly tweeted Infowars articles criticizing then-Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and supporting Trump.  

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Immigration
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Alex Jones
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