Maria Espinoza, co-founder and national director of The Remembrance Project (TRP), has recently embraced a litany of far-right policies far beyond her anti-immigrant activism.
Outlined on a website created for her Congressional campaign as “Maria’s 16 for 2016,” Espinoza has called for, among other things, a moratorium on Muslim immigration, prohibiting same-sex marriage, drug-testing welfare beneficiaries, and building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. The campaign’s website also promotes increased sentences for juvenile offenders and refuses support for any common-sense gun safety laws.
Her work in recent years with TRP has seen Espinoza rise from relative obscurity to become one of the country’s most prominent anti-immigrant activists. Espinoza has traveled across the country holding events and speaking to anti-immigrant and far-right groups about TRP’s work and brandishing the group’s signature “Stolen Lives Quilt.” While Espinoza maintains that these events are solemn affairs held to remember victims of crime, organizers in the past have revealed a more nefarious intent — to malign all immigrants as criminals and murderers.
Espinoza herself has more recently engaged the more inflammatory rhetoric and behavior of the anti-immigrant movement. In July, she cynically wore a bulletproof vest during a press conference held at the site where Kate Steinle was shot.
And Espinoza is no stranger to Washington, D.C., either. She has spent a significant amount of time there in recent years, cozying up to the country’s most notorious anti-immigrant groups – the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), and NumbersUSA. Together, these groups lead the organized anti-immigrant movement and continue the mission of the movement’s white nationalist founder, John Tanton.
In October, she attended the Writers Workshop, a John Tanton annual event that has attracted prominent white nationalists and anti-Muslim speakers over its nearly four decades in existence. Espinoza was a featured speaker at the 2013 Writers Workshop.
Espinoza’s ties to Tanton go deeper still. In 2014, Espinoza and TRP received $25,000 from Tanton’s philanthropic foundation, U.S. Inc.
Although Espinoza may attempt to distance herself from these extreme elements, she wouldn’t be in the position she is now without them.
Espinoza will hope to avoid the failure of her colleagues Susan Tully, now FAIR’s National Field Director, and Rosanna Pulido, a minutemen activist and FAIR’s Illinois State Advisor, who unsuccessfully ran for Congress in 2000 and 2010, respectively.
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