Lately media outlets have had a field day publicizing the support Donald Trump has received from white supremacists and white nationalists.
He has both courted and gained support from anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim leaders. Just yesterday, Trump issued a statement about a new report released by the Center for Immigration Studies, an anti-immigrant think tank with roots in white nationalism. His statement trots out a standard (yet false) argument promoted by the organized anti-immigrant movement — that immigration leads to lower wages and higher unemployment rates for American citizens.
Trump has been most prominently criticized for failing to distance himself from David Duke, a former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, and for granting press credentials to a white nationalist radio station. The Anti-Defamation League has a detailed run-down of Trump’s white supremacist supporters: Andrew Anglin, who runs the Daily Stormer website, which hosts virulently racist articles; William Johnson, the head of the white supremacist American Freedom Party; Jared Taylor, who runs the American Renaissance website, which argues for the superiority of whites; Richard Spencer, a prominent white supremacist who heads the National Policy Institute, a very small think tank; and so on.
Nativist leaders support Trump too
Yet while Trump’s support from white supremacists is certainly getting the most attention, these extremists aren’t the only ones who have publicly supported Trump or influenced his stances. Nativist leaders have largely fallen in line behind Trump as well. (Even if some leading nativists may advocate for slightly different anti-immigrant or anti-Muslim policies than Trump, most likely recognize the boon he has been to their cause.)
Kris Kobach, a leading voice in the organized anti-immigrant movement, endorsed Trump just this week, arguing that he “stand[s] head and shoulders above the other candidates.” Kobach is not only the Kansas Secretary of State, but also serves as an attorney for the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI), the legal arm of the flagship anti-immigrant organization and recognized hate group, Federation for American Immigration Reform.
The anti-immigrant movement’s leading champion in Congress, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), also endorsed Trump this week. Sessions maintained that Trump would “[fix] immigration.”
Bob Dane, executive director of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), last year called Trump’s immigration plan the “American Workers’ Bill of Rights.”
Radical anti-immigrant activist William Gheen joined the chorus of Trump endorsements this week because of Trump’s “promises to deport illegals, build a substantial wall, decrease legal immigration levels to help American workers, and end dangerous Muslim refugee resettlement programs.”
And Brigitte Gabriel, founder of the grassroots anti-Muslim organization ACT! for America, compared Trump to General Patton and argued that he is trying to “make America great again.”
The relationship does not appear to be one-way
Trump and his foreign policy team consulted with Daniel Pipes, a thought leader within the organized anti-Muslim movement, according to reports. Pipes has written, “Western European societies are unprepared for the massive immigration of brown-skinned peoples cooking strange foods and maintaining different standards of hygiene.”
Trump also cited a flawed poll from the Center for Security Policy in a call to ban Muslim immigrants from the United States. The Center for Security Policy is an extremist anti-Muslim think tank headed by conspiracy theorist Frank Gaffney, and it is recognized as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, among others.
What’s more, Trump’s immigration policies appear to be inspired by the anti-immigrant movement’s handbook, from his calls to severely restrict legal immigration (the Center for Immigration Studies has called for a drastically reduced caps on legal immigration at 700,000 people per year); to his support for mass deportation of undocumented immigrants, including young people with deferred action (though nativist leaders often prefer to advocate for the same goal through attrition through enforcement); to his argument for ending birthright citizenship as guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment and his attacks on refugee resettlement.
In fact, the organized anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim movements, through decades of spreading fear and xenophobia, have helped craft not just the policy arguments, but the political and social context itself that has allowed Trump’s message to thrive.
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