On the final day of CPAC 2012, the white nationalists and nativists again took center stage. Both joined forces for a panel titled, “Immigration – High Fences, Wide Gates: States vs. the Feds, the Rule of Law & American Identity.” The panelists were: Robert Vandervoort of the anti-immigrant group ProEnglish; Kris Kobach, an anti-immigrant lawyer for the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI); Alex Nowrasteh from the Competitive Enterprise Institute; and Rep. David Rivera (R-FL). The panel was moderated by Niger Innis.
As discussed previously on Imagine 2050, Vandervoort has extensive ties to white nationalism, not the least of which was his key role in the white nationalist organization Friends of American Renaissance while he resided in Chicago. Kobach wrote two of the harshest anti-immigrant laws in the country: Arizona’s SB 1070 and Alabama’s HB 56. Both Vandervoort’s ProEnglish and Kobach’s IRLI were founded by white nationalist John Tanton, generally regarded as the architect of the modern-day anti-immigrant movement.
Nowrasteh started the panel by criticizing nativists—like those in the John Tanton Network—for attempting to paint over the rich heritage of immigration in America. Kobach then took the floor to rapturous applause; he replied by trying to qualify the draconian legislation that he helped write, claiming that it opened up jobs for Americans. He ended by stating, “if you want to create a job for a US citizen tomorrow, deport an illegal alien today.” Vandervoort followed and did little more than promote his anti-immigrant group, squeezing in the claim that “America has always been a Judeo-Christian nation.” Rivera agreed with Vandervoort and Kobach on the issue of “self-deportation,” but he also emphasized the fact that a worker visa program was badly needed. The panel was abruptly ended by the moderator citing the end of their allotted time slot, much to the chagrin of Kobach who shook his head in disbelief.
After the panel ended Kobach was embraced by the crowd. He spent a minute or two talking to Marcus Epstein, a man closely tied to the white nationalist movement; he was also convicted of a drunken karate-chop assault on a black woman while yelling racial epithets at her. Kobach’s appearance was not met without opposition; one man questioning Kobach about his stance on abortion, noting that John Tanton, the founder of IRLI (for which Kobach works), was heavily involved with Planned Parenthood. A group of youth activists, armed with a banner revealing Kobach’s racist ties, also attempted to gain entry to the room in which he spoke. They were quickly removed by security.
Many other noted nativists and white nationalists were also present at the CPAC conference on the final day. Minuteman leader Jim Gilchrist was in spotted, as well as Sheriff Paul Babeau of Arizona, who has spoken at events put on by the nativist Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). In the basement of the hotel, hundreds of organizations had information booths, including ProEnglish and Youth for Western Civilization. Standing behind ProEnglish’s booth was Kevin Lamb, former editor of the white nationalist journal, Occidental Quarterly, and currently editorial board member of another white nationalist journal, John Tanton’s The Social Contract.
Check back with Imagine2050 tomorrow for a recap of the 2012 CPAC conference, featuring some of our favorite quotes and moments from this year’s event.