As the Obama Administration currently reviews its deportation policies, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson has been holding meetings with many immigration advocates. He continued this practice last Wednesday when he met with he met with representatives from United We Dream. Later in the day, however, he also met with prominent leaders of the anti-immigrant movement. During the meeting, leaders of that movement continued the cynical practice of upholding tragedy to advance their exclusionary message.
Members of the anti-immigrant movement have derided Secretary Johnson’s previous meetings with pro-migrant advocates. In a April 23 press release, Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) president Dan Stein referred to them as “staged events” that “obscure the fact that the voices of the true stakeholders in U.S. immigration policy — the American people — are being systematically excluded by a rogue administration determined to pursue its political goals at all costs.” Despite this, Secretary Johnson agreed to meet with FAIR representatives. According to Politico, other anti-immigrant organizations present at meeting include the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), NumbersUSA, Progressives for Immigration Reform (PFIR) and the Eagle Forum.
In its continued efforts to paint undocumented immigrants as dangerous criminals, the anti-immigrant groups also invited victims of violence to join them at the meeting at U.S. Department of Homeland Security headquarters. Maria Espinoza was also in attendance to further emphasize this message. As co-founder of the Remembrance Project (RP), Espinoza travels the country regularly turning tragic incidents into anti-immigrant talking points. According to its website, RP’s purpose is “to honor and remember Americans who have been killed by illegal aliens.” The efforts of Espinoza and her group are often supported and upheld by larger anti-immigrant groups.
Last September, FAIR’s national field director Susan Tully best exemplified the cynical intent behind the often-utilized narrative that frames undocumented immigrants as criminals. Shortly before a FAIR-organized vigil honoring a woman who was tragically murdered in Omaha, Tully declared the event’s true motive was to highlight the convicted murderer as “the poster child of both the DREAM Act and amnesty.”
In addition to events like the Omaha vigil, FAIR also publishes misleading reports like “Illegal Aliens and Crime Incidences” to support this narrative. When discussing themes in the report, FAIR communications director Bob Dane has described the undocumented as being in a “continuum of crime.”
The efforts of FAIR and its allies to continually portray immigrants as dangerous and prone to criminal behavior are both nothing new and preposterous. Such efforts only appear more desperate when one notices the correlation between larger immigrant populations and lower crime rates. By unceasingly perpetuating this narrative – in front of high-ranking government officials, no less – the anti-immigrant movement only further evidences how far they willing to go.
Image source: Office of Chuck Hagel