As Dutch politician Geert Wilders led members of his Party for Freedom (PVV) in chants deriding Moroccan immigrants in the Netherlands, many U.S.-based Islamophobes defended him from criticism. Meanwhile, there are other organizations and individuals in America that seem to agree with Wilders’ extremist views and advocate for many of the policies he has been roundly criticized for. While it is often done in a manner less conspicuous than a large political rally, members of the organized anti-immigrant movement and their allies in Congress propose policies that are virtually identical.
In a March 30 article, David Horowitz Freedom Center fellow Bruce Bawer noted Wilders’ response to the post-rally criticism.
“[Wilders] hadn’t been calling, he insisted, for wholesale deportation: he’d been talking about restricting immigration, supporting voluntary repatriation, and sending criminals with dual nationality back to Morocco. Period,” Bawer wrote.
Even a cursory glance at the positions held by anti-immigrant groups such as the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), and NumbersUSA reveals striking ideological similarities between Wilders’ PVV and U.S.-based anti-immigrant organizations.
Lower immigration levels
One of the most prominent policies anti-immigrant groups advocate for is lowering immigration levels. FAIR’s website describes reducing current immigration levels by about 70% as “being consistent with the national interest.” CIS, which was originally founded as project of FAIR, has the phrase “Low-immigration, Pro-immigrant” at the top of its website. NumbersUSA is perhaps the most explicit of the three primary anti-immigrant groups. Its logo and letterhead for most marketing material simply reads, “NumbersUSA: For Lower Immigration Levels.”
“Supporting voluntary repatriation,” as Bawer phrased it, can easily be rearticulated as “self-deportation.” The concept of self-deportation itself is a euphemism for “attrition through enforcement” – a harsh doctrine of immigration enforcement policies created with the desired outcome of forcing immigrants to leave their adopted home country. While the component parts of this doctrine are not entirely original, CIS executive director Mark Krikorian introduced the notion of “attrition through enforcement” in a 2005 paper and the ideas therein have been a linchpin of the anti-immigrant movement’s positions and rhetoric ever since.
While Bawer’s description of Wilders and PVV wanting to send criminals “back to Morocco” is very specific to the context of Wilders’ recent remarks, the general sentiment of such statements is certainly expressed by the anti-immigrant movement as well. Disputed deportation figures and individuals in the U.S. with a criminal record have been among the anti-immigrant movement’s primary targets in recent years. Just last week, CIS produced a report that disingenuously asserted the Obama administration has released “68,000 criminal aliens.”
Targeting Muslim immigrants
Because of the Netherlands’ and United States’ differing migration and demographic patterns — among other reasons — American anti-immigrant groups do not specifically target Muslim immigrant communities as much as Wilders and his allies do. That being said, anti-immigrant groups – most notably CIS – do not shy from targeting and perpetuating fear of Muslim immigrant populations.
In 2002, CIS published a report co-authored by one of the pioneers and most prominent figures within the realm of organized Islamophobia: Daniel Pipes. The report discusses several aspects of Muslim migration to America, describing the presence of Muslim immigrants as being “fraught with implications.”
“In its long history of immigration,” the report later claims, “the United States has never encountered so violent-prone and radicalized a community as the Muslims who have arrived since 1965.”
More recently, Mark Krikorian has described Muslims as a “vicious people” with a desire to do evil. And just last week a series of Krikorian’s posts on Twitter implied that Muslim immigration “could lead to Europe’s extinction.”
Just one day before Wilders’ rally that incited the anti-Moroccan chants, CIS’ senior policy analyst Stephen Steinlight addressed a Texas Tea Party and said something that echoes many of Wilders’ own remarks.
“I think Islam is not so much a religion as a hideous totalitarian political creed looking for world supremacy,” Steinlight told the crowd.
Steinlight also said, “Muslims believe in things that are subversive to the Constitution.” Such a line would comfortably fit in any speech Wilders were to give in the United States. Indeed, he has quoted anti-immigrant activists such as Tom Tancredo while previously speaking stateside.
As we here at Imagine 2050 have noted many times before, anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim practices and policies fall under a larger umbrella of nativism. The commonality of ideology shared by the anti-immigrant movement and far-Right, anti-Muslim politicians such as Geert Wilders should not be ignored.