An anti-immigrant group with white nationalist connections says it has met with White House aides six times

An image of the White House

Citation Ceci Freed / Media Matters | Cezary P via Creative Commons

ProEnglish is an anti-immigrant group connected to the white nationalist movement that wants the United States “to adopt English as the official language at all levels of government.” The organization, which celebrated its 25th anniversary last month, recently said that it has met with White House aides six times to discuss policy issues and that it “spent the summer diligently visiting the offices of countless senators and representatives on Capitol Hill.” 

President Donald Trump’s White House has frequently adopted white nationalist policies and rhetoric. That relationship was underscored this week when the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Michael Edison Hayden reported that in emails to in 2015 and 2016, White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller -- at the time an adviser to then-Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) -- promoted white nationalist propaganda.

ProEnglish describes itself as the “nation’s leading advocate of official English. We work through the courts and in the court of public opinion to defend English’s historic role as America’s common, unifying language, and to persuade lawmakers to adopt English as the official language at all levels of government.” ProEnglish representatives also appear in right-wing media to push an English-only agenda. In 2013, the group ran ads featuring “a Spanish-speaking ‘illegal immigrant’ character ‘thanking’ [Sen. Lindsey] Graham for ‘for not requiring him to learn English in exchange for amnesty.’”

The group was founded in 1994 by the late white nationalist John Tanton and is a project of his nonprofit organization US Inc. As historian Carly Goodman wrote in The Washington Post, “Tanton helped Americans embrace nativist policies over the past 40 years by framing immigration as a threat to white America.” Tanton wrote that he was concerned about stopping the “reduction of the European-American demographic and cultural majority to minority status” and that “we decline to bequeath to our children minority status in their own land.”

Tanton also ran the racist publishing company The Social Contract Press and founded the anti-immigrant groups Federation for American Immigration Reform, the Center for Immigration Studies, and NumbersUSA. Alumni of his organizations have served in senior positions in the Trump administration. 

In a July post on its website, ProEnglish’s Stephen Gushchov wrote that the organization has “met 6 times with different aides to President Trump and Vice President Pence at the White House.” Here’s a tally of the group’s reports about those meetings: 

  • A September 25, 2017, release stated, “Executive Director Stephen Guschov recently had the privilege of briefly engaging Kellyanne Conway about the organization’s legislative work, projects, and mission.” 
  • A September 26, 2017, release stated, “Guschov had the opportunity to meet with members of Vice President Pence’s domestic policy staff.” 
  • A January 23, 2018, release stated that Guschov and ProEnglish Director of Government Relations Dan Carter met “with a senior legislative aide to President Donald Trump” in the East Wing of the White House. 
  • A February 13, 2018, release stated that Guschov and Carter “recently visited the White House for the second time in three weeks to continue to discuss a variety of official English legislation issues with senior aides to President Donald Trump.” 
  • A February 15, 2018, release stated that Guschov and Carter met with Pence aides. 
  • A July 11, 2019, release stated that Guschov and Carter “returned to the White House” and “ProEnglish now has met 6 times with different aides to President Trump and Vice President Pence at the White House concerning official English legislation and new Executive Orders.” 

The Southern Poverty Law Center reported on the group’s statement about the January 2018 meeting and also noted the July 2019 meeting in a piece about Tanton’s death. 

On its 25th anniversary last month, the organization wrote that it “is very proud to have been able to have several meetings directly in the White House with a variety of aides to both President Trump and Vice President Pence.” Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) recorded a message of congratulations to the group for its work. 

ProEnglish has also been involved with the white nationalist organization VDare over the years:

  • ProEnglish has frequently promoted VDare’s work on its Twitter account and website
  • K.C. McAlpin, a member of ProEnglish’s board of directors, has written for VDare, most recently last month. 
  • Robert Vandervoort, ProEnglish’s then-executive director, moderated a Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) panel in 2012 that featured VDare head Peter Brimelow and white supremacist Rep. Steve King (R-IA). 
  • Suzanne Bibby, then-director of Government Relations for ProEnglish, wrote for VDare in 2012. 

US Inc. gave $10,000 in 2012 and $12,000 in 2013 to VDare, according to IRS records. Tanton and VDare head Peter Brimelow were also connected to each other over the years