In an email to supporters sent over the weekend, an anti-immigrant activist with connections to the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) suggested that Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-IL4) may not speak fluent English and may receive Social Security disability benefits. The email also suggested that a majority of undocumented immigrants are “uneducated” and “lawless.”
The message was sent by Brad Botwin, director of the anti-immigrant group Help Save Maryland (HSM). FAIR lists HSM as a state contact group on its website. Botwin sent the email to supporters encouraging them to protest an upcoming event featuring Gutiérrez and Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD) in Langley Park, Maryland.
“If you talk to Press or TV crews please be polite,” Botwin writes in his email to preface a series of suggested talking points. “There are millions of true immigrants from around the world that want to come to the U.S.,” one such talking points reads, “Why do we have to accept lawless, uneducated, non-English speaking border jumpers with no legal grounds to be here?”
“Why are Puerto Ricans who can’t speak fluent English qualifying as disabled for Social Security? Does that include Congressman Gutierrez??” Botwin later adds.
Botwin and Help Save Maryland’s incendiary claims and blatant disdain for immigrants and pro-immigrant advocacy are nothing new. In previous emails and website posts, Botwin and HSM members have derided immigrants benefiting from President Obama’s deportation relief programs as “a tidal wave coming” to wreak havoc on American citizens. In a previous email to HSM supporters, Botwin described an October 2013 pro-immigrant rally in Washington, D.C. as a “Sodom and Gomorrah extravaganza.”
And, as we noted on these pages last month, the bigotry fueling anti-immigrant activism does not start and stop with Botwin and HSM. Bigotry pervades this highly coordinated movement from the top down.