Just as California is poised to lead the nation by adopting strong statewide policies to protect immigrant rights, the anti-immigrant lobby in California has shifted into high gear, their racism emboldened under the Trump administration.
The anti-immigrant lobby in California represents a concerted, coordinated effort to promote policies targeting immigrants and communities of color as a whole. Many of California’s anti-immigrant groups share white nationalist views, though they regularly camouflage their extremism in an attempt to influence policy.
As hate violence increases across the nation, including in California, which hosts more than its share of hate crimes compared to its population, anti-immigrant groups are attempting to push racist narratives into the mainstream. National groups like the Center for Immigration Studies and the Federation for American Immigration Reform, both active in California, exploit human tragedies to provoke fear, dehumanize immigrants, and incite anti-immigrant sentiment.
State and local groups in California share many of the same tactics, working to vilify immigrants to generate support for policies that devastate communities of color, tear apart immigrant families, and more. This is certainly true of the Claremont-based group We the People Rising, which is a descendant of the border vigilante Minutemen movement, and of the new nationalist group American Children First, which in fact proposes to deny free education to U.S. citizen children if their parents are undocumented. This virulent nativism even extends to some elected officials in California, who have a documented history of working with anti-immigrant groups or figures.
As California debates whether and how to protect all its residents, understanding the goals and ideologies of the California groups working against immigrant rights is essential.
The newly released report from the Center for New Community, “The Anti-Immigrant Lobby in California: A Vocal Fringe Emboldened,” describes the ways in which anti-immigrant groups have been emboldened under Trump and work to influence policy, including specific elected officials. The report also serves as the only recent, holistic look at the anti-immigrant movement in California and its negative impact.