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Islamophobic group ACT! for America continues to ramp up anti-immigrant rhetoric

Imagine 2050 Staff • Jun 10, 2014

In addition to their campaign to vilify Muslims, the anti-Muslim grassroots organization ACT! for America has increased their rhetoric to foment fear of undocumented citizens. ACT!’s efforts to include this demographic into their agenda further secures their place in organized nativism, and reveals the ongoing confluence between the anti-immigrant and Islamophobia movements.

ACT! leadership bills the organization being a group that organizes grassroots efforts around various “national security” topics. This title allows them leeway to fit the disparagement of undocumented citizens, mainly Latinos, into their agenda. As of late, ACT! has echoed the organized anti-immigrant movement’s staunch opposition to policies perceived as pro-migrant.

A post appeared on the group’s Facebook page on June 2 arguing against a new policy that would grant young undocumented immigrants, or DREAMers, citizenship for service in the military. In the post, ACT! likened allowing DREAMers who serve in army to the 2009 Fort Hood mass shooting where Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan shot and killed 13 people.

The post stated: “Is this really what they have planned? Non-citizens here illegally serving in the armed forces? … Does anybody remember Fort Hood?”

The first flaw to highlight about this is that Hasan was born in the United States and was an American citizen. Second, ACT! is using the actions of one individual to discriminate against an entire demographic, as they often do. ACT! irresponsibly disregards the ability of DREAMers while encouraging fear and distrust of them. This policy has been strictly opposed by other nativist groups, including the anti-immigrant organization NumbersUSA.

In a separate post, ACT! upheld a proposed amendment brought to the House floor by anti-immigrant hardliner Congressman Steve King (R-IA). The proposed amendment would appropriate funds for the Department of Justice to investigate the supposed release by Department of Homeland Security 36,000 criminal “illegal immigrants” back into society. King’s amendment that ACT! is bolstering, however, was inspired by a misleading report put out by the anti-immigrant think tank Center for Immigration Studies. ACT! is, again, supporting a piece of legislation being pushed by nativist groups and their congressional allies to further their agenda to paint all undocumented citizens as criminals and a threat to society.

ACT!’s association with Rep. King was not only limited to virtually upholding his policies. In a recent email to supporters, the group detailed their recent trip to Capitol Hill where they met with King and his staff. The email includes pictures ACT!’s president Brigitte Gabriel and the group’s director of government relations and chief Washington, D.C., lobbyist, Linda Piraneo, sitting with King discussing legislation, as revealed by the accompanying text in the email.

“We met with legislators who have placed the security of our nation at a top priority,” the email stated, adding ACT! relayed to them their commitment “to a strong national security” and remain “fully prepared to keep the heat on.”

They added that ACT! is “working in the trenches of Congress for you, not only in Washington, DC, but also in state legislatures across the nation.”

ACT!’s collaboration with King is evidenced by the group’s support of his legislation aimed at disparaging immigrants. On ACT!’s website, they list his Birthright Citizen Act, a bill intended to repeal the birthright citizenship clause from the Constitution’s Fourteenth Amendment, as being high priority. Repealing this amendment has long been a target of the nativist movement to abolish what it denotes as “anchor babies.” King’s willingness to associate with ACT! can further be seen by his appearance at the group’s 2013 national conference.

ACT!’s efforts lately to ramp up its rhetoric against undocumented citizens further cements their place in the organized nativist movement. What’s more concerning is elected officials like Steve King’s willingness to represent these groups and bridge the anti-immigrant movement with Islamophobia.

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