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President Donald Trump has found in the nativist trio of the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) and NumbersUSA the allies he needs for the inspiration, implementation, and support to turn his anti-immigrant campaign promises into policies, according to a new report from The Daily Beast.
The relatively small groups, all founded by John Tanton, gained prominence throughout the Trump campaign with a helpful boost from the mainstream media. While the three organizations have a history of shoddy research and pushing misinformation that demonizes immigrants, their normalization in the media has often ignored or obscured their strong ties to white supremacists and the racist ideas that inspired Tanton. Now their messaging that immigrants threaten jobs and lower wages, drain government benefits, and make the country less safe is significantly influencing Trump’s policies. This pipeline makes it more crucial than ever for media to stop sanitizing CIS, FAIR and NumbersUSA by inaccurately presenting them as simply “conservative” -- many conservatives actually reject them -- or merely in support of “stricter” immigration rules, when the groups are in fact nativist organizations whose members promote the ideas of white nationalists.
As reported by The Daily Beast, Trump’s White House seems to be relying on a CIS immigration wish list for immigration policy inspiration, as a “number of the 79 items” proposed by CIS “have been implemented or shown up in leaked draft proposals from the administration,” including Trump’s “controversial VOICE office,” which “may have had its genesis with CIS.” Additionally, all three nativist groups have received additional access to the administration and “to the people who make immigration policy decisions.” In February, CIS, FAIR, and NumbersUSA were invited to attend a stakeholder meeting between ICE and immigration advocates, an occurrence that immigrants rights advocates found to be “very disturbing.” From the March 12 article:
On April 11, 2016, a tiny think tank with a bland name published a 79-point wish list. The list garnered virtually no media coverage, and in the 11 months since its publication has been largely ignored—except, apparently, by the White House.
Today, Donald Trump seems to be working through it as he rolls out his immigration policy. A number of the 79 items on the list composed by the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), have either been implemented or shown up in leaked draft proposals from the administration. It’s a course of events that has that think tank cautiously exultant and has immigrants’ rights activists anxious and disturbed.
Mark Krikorian, CIS’s executive director, told The Daily Beast that last month, for the first time, his group scored an invite to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement stakeholder meeting, a gathering that happens a few times a year where ICE leaders talk policy and procedure with immigration lawyers and activists. And he said that since Trump’s inauguration, he’s been in touch with new appointees at the Department of Homeland Security. It’s a new level of access and influence that helps explain the quick, dramatic changes Trump has made in immigration policy—changes that will impact millions of people.
Just 50 days into his presidency, and Trump’s team has already discussed, proposed, or implemented upwards of a dozen of CIS’s ideas.
CIS isn’t the only restrictionist group to find newly open ears at DHS. Dan Stein, of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, told The Daily Beast his group was also invited to the meeting as well (though he added it received meeting invites from the Obama administration too). Stein said his group has found the Trump administration to be very open to their ideas.
And Roy Beck, who heads NumbersUSA—a restrictionist group that boasts a 1.5 million-member email list—said his organization was invited to the ICE stakeholder meeting as well, and has found open ears in the Trump administration, particularly DHS.
These three groups share a co-founder: John Tanton, a population control activist who flirted with racist pseudo-science, supported Planned Parenthood, and argued that immigration and population growth were bad for the environment. Immigrants’ rights advocates argue that the groups are covertly white supremacist and motivated by animus towards people of color.