Rosemary Jenks is the Director of Government Relations for NumbersUSA. In this role, Jenks serves as a primary link between the anti-immigrant movement’s grassroots base and lawmakers on Capitol Hill.
Jenks has more than two decades worth of experience working in the Beltway for organizations that make up the modern-day anti-immigrant movement. Prior to joining NumbersUSA in 2001, Jenks worked as a senior fellow and legislative analyst for the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) – a think tank sister group of NumbersUSA established by white nationalist John Tanton. During her time at CIS, Jenks authored several reports and testified multiple times before Congress on immigration policy matters – fostering relationships with legislators that would later benefit her as one of NumbersUSA’s chief lobbyists.
Further illustrating the connected nature of the anti-immigrant movement’s Beltway organizations, Jenks has continued to collaborate with CIS after joining NumbersUSA by participating in CIS-organized panel discussions and authoring or co-authoring several reports for the think tank.
As Deepah Fernandes notes in her 2011 book, Targeted: Homeland Security and the Business of Immigration, Jenks has developed strong relationships with influential members of Congress. One of the most notable relationships Jenks forged is with former House Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO). During his time in Congress, Tancredo emerged as one of the country’s most virulently anti-immigrant legislators and created an influential coalition of like-minded lawmakers, the House Immigration Reform Caucus (HIRC), to advocate for nativist policies and to obstruct integrative efforts. Jenks has not attempted to conceal these relationships. As Fernandes notes:
Jenks is not shy about her ties to Representative Tom Tancredo (R-CO), who receives support from white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups. At a recent lobbying event in Washington, which Representative Tancredo attended, Jenks announced that if anyone was looking for her, they could find her in the offices of Representative Tancredo, where she and Linda Purdue (who has long worked with Tanton) were “virtual staffers.”
Today, Jenks has essentially sustained her role as a “virtual staffer” for other members of HIRC including Reps. Steve King (R-IA), Louie Gohmert (R-TX), and perhaps most importantly, Lamar Smith (R-TX) – the former head of the House Judiciary’s subcommittee on immigration who still maintains a troubling influence over most immigration-related legislation in the U.S. House.
Outside of the halls of Congress, Jenks is also one of the anti-immigrant movement’s primary spokespersons. For years she has spoken at events across the country, promoting the movement’s policy aims. During a 2010 anti-immigrant rally in Phoenix, Arizona, Jenks lauded former State Sen. Russell Pearce for his efforts in passing Arizona’s bigoted SB 1070. “Senator Pearce,” Jenks proclaimed, “we at NumbersUSA can’t wait to know what you have in mind next.”
Jenks is also a close associate of anti-Muslim conspiracy theorist Frank Gaffney. Since 2010, Jenks has been a guest on Gaffney’s radio program 12 times. Jenks also contributed to Gaffney’s 2013 book, “War Footing: 10 Steps America Must Take to Prevail in the War for the Free World” and has spoken at multiple events organized by Gaffney’s Center for Security Policy.
Unsurprisingly, lawmakers in Congress who are preventing the passage of meaningful immigration reform maintain close connections to Jenks and other representatives of the organized anti-immigrant movement. These are not relationships of convenience. It is important to understand the connections our elected officials cultivate and maintain with leaders of organized bigotry. It is key to ensuring that our democracy is inclusive of all those that Jenks and others are seeking to denigrate, to detain, and, ultimately, to deport.