Nativism Watch

Remembrance Project conference in Texas gets Trump boost

Imagine2050 Staff • Sep 16, 2016
Source: Getty Images
Source: Getty Images

Earlier this year, the Remembrance Project began soliciting donations to support its first ever national conference. The three-day event began yesterday in Houston, Texas.

The group’s inaugural conference was given a boost last week when it was announced that Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump would speak at the conference luncheon tomorrow.

Founded in 2009, the Remembrance Project has become one of the organized anti-immigrant movement’s most reliable messengers. By focusing on the stories of victims who have suffered awful tragedies rather than blatant demagoguery and particulars of immigration policy, the group is able to distance itself from the rightful criticism and accusations of extremism that beset more established anti-immigrant groups. That said, Remembrance Project co-founder Maria Espinoza has been more than willing to formally align with these extremist groups to raise the profile of her own efforts.

The Remembrance Project’s visibility has grown considerably over the past several years as its spokespeople and activists have gone from speaking at small rallies and Tea Party meetings to testifying before Congress. The group even landed a platform on the main stage during July’s Republican National Convention. More established anti-immigrant groups like the Federation for American Immigration Reform and NumbersUSA have been effectively ostracized from such spaces.

READ: The Washington Post: Surprise! Donald Trump is wrong about immigrants and crime.

The Remembrance Project’s increased profile almost surely played a role in inspiring Espinoza’s ill-fated Congressional bid late last year. True to form, Espinoza ran on a decidedly Trump-esque platform replete with nativist calls to build a border wall and end Muslim immigration.

Trump’s presence at this week’s conference is simply the latest instance of him and his campaign supporting the Remembrance Project’s efforts. On multiple occasions, the candidate has met with Remembrance Project activists and invited them to speak at campaign rallies and events—most prominently during primetime on day one of the Republican National Convention.

This week’s conference was previously advertised as invitation-only, but the Remembrance Project has apparently chosen to capitalize on Trump’s presence by now allowing the public to attend for a $125 registration fee. A Trump-inspired financial boost, however, is not the Remembrance Project’s only source of support. In recent years the organized anti-immigrant movement has recognized how the group can help further its nativist agenda and, in turn, has offered its own support.

U.S. Inc., the philanthropic foundation of white nationalist John Tanton, has given tens of thousands of dollars to the Remembrance Project since 2014. Tanton is the founder of the modern day anti-immigrant movement and has once wrote, “I’ve come to the point of view that for European-American society and culture to persist requires a European-American majority, and a clear one at that.”

Tax records indicate that the Remembrance Project received $25,000 from U.S. Inc. in 2014 and $32,500 in 2015. Those funds have, at least in part, allowed Espinoza and affiliated activists to:

  • Attend the Writers Workshop in Washington, D.C., an annual event organized by U.S. Inc. that has previously attracted leading white nationalists. Espinoza spoke at the 2013 edition of the event and has attended in subsequent years.
  • Become regular attendees of Hold Their Feet to the Fire, an annual media event organized by leading anti-immigrant group Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR).
  • Organize a July 2015 press conference in San Francisco at the site where Kate Steinle was shot and killed. As Imagine 2050 noted, Espinoza’s decision to wear a bulletproof vest during the press conference could only be described as a “cynical display” that “fail[s] to advance policy debates in any meaningful way.”
  • Present at a March 2015 Tea Party event in Southern California, where Espinoza was photographed with local activists in front of a Confederate flag. On Facebook, Espinoza later remarked on the photograph, “LOL!! Look at the flag behind us…so appropriate!”
  • Co-sponsor a July 2014 memorial event in Iowa with leading anti-immigrant group Federation for American Immigration Reform. FAIR and the Remembrance Project have co-sponsored similar events in the past with one FAIR representative once admitting their goal to depict a convicted murderer as “the poster child of both the DREAM Act and amnesty.”

Continued media coverage of The Remembrance Project is sure to increase the group’s confidence as well as further elevate the destructive agenda of the anti-immigrant movement. This week’s conference, with the implicit endorsement of a major presidential nominee, only confirms that.

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