Why isn’t Washington think tank firing staffer who said Obama should be ‘hung, drawn and quartered’?

Steinlight in Florida 07/15/14Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) wants us to know that it does not, in fact, support the president being “hung, drawn and quartered.” But that doesn’t mean the anti-immigrant think-tank will apologize for its senior policy analyst saying President Obama deserved the punishment (which ends in death by the way). Instead, Center for Immigration Studies’ Executive Director Mark Krikorian responded to the controversial remarks by saying that they were “ill-advised” and “impolitic rhetoric.”

Here’s exactly what Stephen Steinlight said to the Highlands Tea Party in Sebring, Florida on July 17 (to loud applause I might add):

“We all know, if there ever was a president that deserved to be impeached, it’s this guy. All right? And I wouldn’t stop. I would think being hung, drawn and quartered is probably too good for him.”

Here’s a handy Wikipedia explanation of what it means to be hung, drawn and quartered:

Convicts were fastened to a hurdle, or wooden panel, and drawn by horse to the place of execution, where they were hanged (almost to the point of death), emasculated, disembowelled, beheaded and quartered (chopped into four pieces). Their remains were often displayed in prominent places across the country, such as London Bridge. For reasons of public decency, women convicted of high treason were instead burned at the stake.

Steinlight’s suggested punishment is gruesome, violent and disturbingly racist. I’m sure it’s lost on no one that he’s talking about hanging — and butchering — the nation’s first African American president. I’m also sure that “impolitic” is the last word I’d use to describe it. But should we be surprised by this rhetoric given that Steinlight works for a group created by white nationalist John Tanton?

Video of Steinlight’s speech was first uploaded to YouTube by Highlands Tea Party Chairman John Nelson on July 20 (it was removed, but not before Right Wing Watch saved a clip).

Is CIS taking this seriously or trying to sweep it under the rug? According to Huffington Post, CIS officials said Steinlight had been disciplined and instructed to avoid similar rhetoric in the future.

“I reprimanded him and put a reprimand in his personnel file,” said CIS Executive Director Mark Krikorian. Way to stick it to him.

Suggesting that the president should be executed is not just “ill-advised,” it’s inexcusable. Simply “reprimanding” Steinlight is a signal to its supporters that CIS doesn’t find his comments all that disturbing. Steinlight should be fired. Anything less is unacceptable from an organization that calls itself non-partisan.

Jill Garvey is the Executive Director of the Center for New Community 

Cross-post: Signs from a surprising rally in Texas

A View from the Border: Signs from a surprising rally in Texas

by Esther Yu-Hsi Lee, Jack Jenkins | Think Progress

Originally posted on July 20, 2014

MCALLEN, TX — At least 60 advocates braved sauna-like conditions near the Texas border on Saturday to rally across the street from the McAllen Border Patrol Station, showing their support for the influx of unaccompanied Latin American children being apprehended there.

About 57,000 children, mostly from Central America, have been detained this fiscal year by Border Patrol agents, many in Texas’s Rio Grand Valley towns, like McAllen. Studies show that — at least since 2009 — children have been leaving the Central American countries of Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala in droves because of increasing violence and grinding poverty, taking dangerous journeys to the U.S. to seek refuge.

The rally, which was also an interfaith prayer vigil, was meant to counter hundreds of planned “anti-amnesty” protests across the country over the Obama administration’s handling of the surge. Only three people showed up nearby as part of the national anti-immigrant protests. They said they expected others to arrive, but also speculated they may have “gotten the wrong address.”

Attendees at the rally in support of the children brought messages of love, compassion, and sympathy for children for whom they feared a return to Latin America could mean certain death.

Click here to read the full post and see the Top 10 Signs spotted by Esther and Jack.

Read more from Think Progress: They Came To America For Freedom And Opportunity, But Ended Up Trapped In Their Own Home


Image Source: Think Progress

Cross-post: 5 things last weekend’s rallies tell us about the nativist right

By Miranda Blue | Right Wing Watch

For weeks now, anti-immigrant groups have been hyping a “National Day of Protesting Against Immigration Reform, Amnesty & Border Surge,” meant to be two days of protests in cities across the country in reaction to the Central American children who are coming to the southern border to flee violence in their home countries.

The protests were a bust. Local news reports and pictures posted on social media show anemic turnout, from about 40 people in front of the United Nations in New York to just three at a McClellan, Texas, border control station who wondered if they had gotten the wrong address.

These small but vitriolic protests, although they didn’t meet the hype of their organizers, tell us everything we need to know about today’s anti-immigrant movement.

1. It’s driven by extremists.

This weekend’s protests were organized by three fringe groups: Make Them Listen, Overpasses for America, and Americans for Legal Immigration PAC.

Make Them Listen is run by activist Paul Arnold, who has close ties to the anti-immigrant front group behind last summer’s rally of extremists on the National Mall .

Overpasses for America is a group led by activist James Neighbors that organizes demonstrations over highway overpasses to call for President Obama’s impeachment. The group went a step further this year when it backed Operation American Spring, an effort meant to flood Washington with protesters and force Obama out of office , which also came up slightly short of expectations .

Overpasses frequently shares images like this on its Facebook page:

The group also uses the platform to share its views on immigrants, including this image and its accompanying caption.

Americans for Legal Immigration is a one-man anti-immigrant hate shop run by North Carolina-based activist William Gheen. Gheen has said that “illegal and violent” means might be necessary to remove President Obama from office and has a long record of virulent anti-immigrant rhetoric . Gheen’s last national action was encouraging his supporters to mail used underwear to undocumented immigrants.

Gheen also has ties to the right-wing militia movement: he personally invited the anti-government group Oath Keepers to join the weekend’s protests.

Other groups listed as “participating organizations” in the event included 2 Million Bikers To DC, whose leader wants to repeal all but the first 10 amendments to the Constitution and which deals in racist Facebook images, and Americans Have Had Enough Coalition, which is led by white supremacist Roan Garcia-Quintana .

The largest recent anti-immigrant protests — the attempts to turn back busses of migrant children in Murrieta, California, and Oracle, Arizona — were also populated by anti-government fringe groups. The Murrieta protest, which was organized by activists tied to the Minutemen and the John Birch Society, drew some of the same people who had recently set up shop at the anti-government standoff at the Bundy Ranch.

Click here to read the full post.

Miranda Blue writes for Right Wing Watch.

Five reasons why everyone should continue criticizing ACT!’s Brigitte Gabriel

Anti-Muslim figurehead tired of being criticized for always criticizing Muslims.

On July 16, anti-Muslim demagogue Brigitte Gabriel appeared on a conservative radio show to make her case against being labeled “Islamophobic.” Gabriel was responding to broad criticism that she has received following various appearances during which she has espoused anti-Muslim sentiments.

Gabriel, the president of the anti-Muslim group ACT! for America, was a guest on TruNews radio to discuss how she became the subject of scrutiny after a string of appearances on various news networks including CNN and Fox News. Much criticism, though, has stemmed from her anti-Muslim diatribe during a Benghazi panel hosted by the Heritage Foundation, which was caught on tape and subsequently went viral.

TruNews host Rick Wiles began the show by declaring, “The establishment news media has started attacking Brigitte Gabriel for her comments….”

Wiles was referring to publications such as The Washington Post and The Daily Beast which both featured scathing pieces on Gabriel who during that Heritage panel verbally berated Saba Ahmed, a Muslim woman who had posed a question about all-too-common characterizations of Muslims.

Gabriel explained the criticism to Wiles by saying her detractors were simply intimidated by how “effective” she was in communicating her points. She was right—she was effectively communicating her anti-Muslim beliefs, which spiraled across the political Twitter-sphere that day.

Clearly, though, this point falls deaf on Gabriel, as on the day she unabashedly insulted Ahmed’s identity by demanding to know if she was American (Gabriel is herself an immigrant) as well as charging that the peaceful majority of Muslims are irrelevant because “15-25 percent” are “dedicated to the destruction of Western civilization.”

How she arrived at those numbers is anyone’s guess.

Wiles also took issue with Fox News contributor Tamara Holder, who labeled Gabriel “the most dangerous person in society” during an episode of “Hannity” on June 20.

While Holder’s comments are hyperbolic (it is Fox News, after all), her motivations for saying so are not rootless.

Gabriel and ACT! for America’s mission is to portray Muslims as an omnipresent, monolithic threat plotting to overthrow and to replace the U.S. government with a radical Islamic regime. Further, she and her organization continue to push anti-Muslim legislation such as American Laws for American Courts (ALAC) and to assert time-and-again that Muslims are using secondary school textbooks to proselytize for Islam.

Of course, any attempt by Gabriel to argue against her own contributing to anti-Muslim fervor is moot when one simply examines her long track record of statements and work. In case one needs more, though, listed below are five reasons why Gabriel should continually be criticized for her extremism:

  • Perpetuating the fallacy that all Muslims are Arabs, she has gone on record numerous times calling the Arab world barbarous, arguing for example that “The difference between Israel and the Arab world is the difference between democracy and barbarism.”
  • Gabriel appeared in a video series produced by the anti-immigrant group NumbersUSA in which she expressed, “we need to scrutinize every Muslim running for office,” and warned that Keith Ellison (D-MN) — the first Muslim elected to U.S. Congress — is evidence of how Muslims have infiltrated “every aspect of our society.”
  • To further her idea that Muslims are trying to take over the education system, Gabriel warned they intend to “brainwash the children in our country,” and referred to American universities as “occupied territories.”
  • She has previously claimed a practicing Muslim who believes in the teaching of the Qur’an “cannot be a loyal citizen to the United States of America.”
  • Gabriel once stated Palestinians have “no compassion towards children.”

While some may not categorize Gabriel as the most dangerous person in society, her role in funneling anti-Muslim rhetoric into mainstream and right-wing media should not be dismissed and surely not at her own behest.


VIDEO: Stephen Steinlight of CIS says public execution “too good” for Obama

On July 17, Center for Immigration Studies Senior Policy Analyst Stephen Steinlight spoke to The Highlands Tea Party in Sebring, Florida. There, he expressed a desire not only to impeach President Obama but also to have him publicly lynched.

In discussing House Speaker John Boehner’s plans to sue the President, Steinlight lamented that “there’s no court that’s going to stop Obama from doing anything.” He then added,

“We all know, if there ever was a president that deserved to be impeached, it’s this guy. Alright? And I wouldn’t stop. I would think being hung, drawn, and quartered is probably too good for him.”

Video of Steinlight’s speech was first uploaded to YouTube by Highlands Tea Party Chairman John Nelson on July 20 (it has since been removed). Based on the video’s introduction, it also appears CIS gave Nelson permission to use its logo for the video.

This is not the first time Steinlight has made bigoted and racially charged statements before Tea Party and other far-right groups. He has previously claimed Hispanic immigrants will bring about “the unmaking of America.” In March of this year he also proposed a moratorium on Muslim immigration because “Muslims believe in things that are subversive to the Constitution.” As bigoted as these statements are, they are not as extreme as a leader within the anti-immigrant movement calling for the lynching of the first African-American President of the United States.

CIS has a long track record of standing firmly behind Steinlight, who is infamous for issuing racially and ethnically charged remarks beyond what’s above (here, here, and here).

Furthermore, as this summer House Judiciary Chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte has called two committee hearings at the behest of CIS and its research, Steinlight’s remarks again raise serious questions about elected officials who entertain the group’s work and/or maintain close ties with its principals.

Sheriffs’ participation in FAIR’s Border Tour deviate from responsibilities

Local sheriffs should be impartial peacemakers, not anti-immigrant spokespersons

In its 2012 annual report, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) noted that it was expanding its outreach efforts to law enforcement officials:

“Our commitment to educating the American public and promoting citizen awareness and involvement across the country is a continuing focus. This year, we expanded our outreach to law enforcement — specifically county sheriffs — in order to educate them about illegal immigration and its impact on the communities they serve.”

FAIR’s efforts that year included organizing a controversial “National Sheriffs Border School and Tour” in El Paso, Texas. In El Paso, many sheriffs from across the country were not only exposed to FAIR and its anti-immigrant agenda, but also likely returned to their jurisdictions inspired to advocate for the harsh enforcement policies FAIR so vehemently supports. FAIR’s latest law enforcement outreach effort occurred last week when it organized a four-day “fact-finding mission” for seven sheriffs from five states to observe Border Patrol facilities processing apprehended children fleeing violence from Central America.

While FAIR’s border trip seems to be an obvious attempt to advance its agenda during a humanitarian crisis, it also comes during a year in which many municipalities and sheriffs across the country are rebuking the burden of federal immigration responsibilities. From areas spanning from Oregon to Philadelphia, local officials are choosing to no longer honor immigration authorities’ requests for ICE detainer holds. In addition to straining sheriff department staffs and resources, in some cases honoring such requests have been found by federal courts to violate detainees’ constitutional rights.

Unsurprisingly, most of the sheriffs participating in FAIR’s border trip last week subscribe to the anti-immigrant movement’s view that all levels of law enforcement should fervently enforce federal immigration statutes. By travelling to the border with FAIR, these sheriffs continue to align themselves with – and validate the motivations of – a movement that has had no qualms exploiting the present crisis of children fleeing violence for political gain.

North Carolina’s Rockingham County Sheriff Sam Page was one of the seven sheriffs touring the border last week. His involvement was expected given his history with the anti-immigrant movement. Page travelled to El Paso with FAIR in 2012 and has been a regular attendee of FAIR’s annual media event in Washington DC, “Hold Their Feet to the Fire.” During the 2013 installment, he participated in a press conference organized the stridently anti-immigrant Sens. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and David Vitter (R-LA). Shortly after that conference, Page signed a letter to members of Congress along with other sheriffs and law enforcement officials in opposition to immigration reform. That letter was facilitated by National ICE Council President Chris Crane, who himself has worked closely with Kris Kobach and NumbersUSA.

Sheriff Tom Hodgson of Bristol County, Massachusetts similarly signed Crane’s anti-reform letter and has attended FAIR events. Hodgson has made additional trips to the nation’s capital to oppose immigration reforms. During an October 2013 press conference – again organized by Sen. Sessions – Hodgson disparaged undocumented immigrants for supposedly “creating public health hazards” and “public safety concerns.”

Frederick County, Maryland Sheriff Chuck Jenkins was also a predictable participant given that his ties to FAIR go back to at least 2009 when he spoke at FAIR’s advisory board meeting. Jenkins certainly advocates implementing harsh immigration enforcement measures. Under his watch, Frederick Country is the only county in Maryland that maintains a 287(g) arrangement with ICE. Issues with Jenkins’ department are not solely limited to immigration matters. In 2010, Jenkins said an “Arizona type law” or statewide 287(g) participation would be “ideal for Maryland.”

While these sheriffs and others toured the southern border with FAIR last week, another FAIR-affiliated Sheriff actions in Oracle, Arizona was denounced by editors of The Arizona Republic as “incomprehensibly irresponsible.”

Last Tuesday, Pinal County (AZ) Sheriff Paul Babeu (pictured above, from 2011) might have set a new low in recklessly spinning anti-immigrant sentiment into political opportunity. After passing on information regarding the arrivals of children fleeing violence to nativist protestors who then mistakingly harassed a bus of YMCA campers, only then did Babeu assert his presence on site as a “peacemaker.” Republic editors likened Babeu to a “pyromaniac who torches his own house, then throws himself on the mercy of the court as a homeless waif.”

Whether they are leaving their jurisdictions to tour the border with anti-immigrant organizations or creating dangerous standoffs in their own backyards, sheriffs should not entertain the anti-immigrant movement’s dangerous nativist agenda. As Babeu’s critics wrote earlier this week, it is “a higher order of cruelty — and carelessness — for a peace officer to use his elected office to play on anger and fear.”

Image source: Gage Skidmore

Week in Review: Murrieta organizers’ history, authorities colluding with protesters and more bizarre conspiracies

Colorado Governor’s Race Gets Ugly as Candidates Jump on Anti-Immigrant Bandwagon

Thursday, July 17, 2014  |  Imagine 2050

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper has his eyes on a higher office, and he is betting that picking on children fleeing violence will help him get there. Between jokes with Vice President Biden, and pool with President Obama, he took time to publicly state his opposition to hosting children who have fled the ongoing crisis in Central America. Hickenlooper’s cold comments follow similar statements from his Republican challenger, gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez.

It’s clear that both candidates seem to think that closing their state off to young refugees will further their political careers.

Read more


Anti-immigrant Arizona sheriff prompts protest against migrant children

Tuesday, July 15, 2014  |  Nativism Watch

An Arizona sheriff with a history of anti-immigrant rhetoric and activism has provided Oracle, Arizona residents with information that helped activists coordinate an anti-immigrant demonstration today. Oracle local Robert Skiba, who plans to protest a proposed site to shelter children fleeing violence in Central America, was told of the plans during a meeting with Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu.

Appearing on Breitbart News Sunday, Skiba recalled his meeting with Babeu and expressed shock before he reportedly told the sheriff, “We will take care of this.”

Read more


West: Migrant children are part of Democrats’ plan to boost voter base

Tuesday, July 15, 2014  |  Imagine 2050

Over recent months, the nation was surprised to learn that since October, more than 52,000 Central American children have been detained after fleeing violence in their home countries. What has been far less surprising has been the organized nativist movement’s efforts to politicize the issue and staunchly oppose humane responses to it. And even less surprising has been Frank Gaffney’s constant efforts to vilify the children and push back against policies that would aid them.

Gaffney, founder and president of the Center for Security Policy, has already demonstrated his lack of empathy by deeming these children an invasion. However, in his latest efforts against them, Gaffney proved why he’s worthy of the title of Islamophobia’s “most paranoid propagandist.”

Read more


Murrieta protest organizers have history of anti-Muslim activism

Monday, July 14, 2014  |  Imagine 2050

The shameful actions of anti-immigrant protesters who have blocked buses transporting Central American children fleeing violence to a Border Patrol facility for processing have been some of the most explicit public displays of nativism in recent memory. With intimidating chants of “Go back home!” and “U-S-A,” and signs accusing those seeking refuge of being public health threats, the Murrieta protestors have shown they have virtually no regard for the well-being of these children who have made this traumatic journey out of pure desperation.

As is well-documented, some of the organizers of the Murrieta demonstrations have a history of nativist activism that is not limited to demonizing immigrants. Muslims, too, have been a target of their bigoted fervor.

Read more


Image source: Los Angeles Times

Key players in anti-Immigrant movement to meet in Iowa on July 19th

The Remembrance Project (TRP) — an anti-immigrant effort whose principals hold close ties with numerous influential nativist organizations –  recently sent an email to supporters, announcing more details regarding its “Louise Sollowin Memorial Event” this Saturday in Council Bluffs, Iowa. The event is yet another attempt by TRP to opportunistically spin a genuine tragedy into grassroots political capital, casting immigrants as a threat to public safety.

Speakers scheduled to attend include:
US Congressman Steve King (IA)
Matt Walsh, Mayor of Council Bluffs
Mary Ann Hanusa, State Representative  (IA)
Sam Clovis, candidate for Treasure  (IA)
Dr. Leigh Hieb, candidate for Governor of Iowa
John Blue, candidate for IA State Rep.
Maria Espinoza, The Remembrance Project (TX)
Chris Baker, KFAB Talk Show host
Ruthie Hendrycks, The Ruthie Report Radio/Pres. of Minnesotans Seeking Immigration Reform
Bill Hartzell, grandson of Mrs. Sollowin and a co-director of The Remembrance Project
TRP’s email also notes that FAIR’s National Field Director, Susan Tully, is a sponsor of the event. On its website, FAIR offers that Tully and “FAIR’s Field staff can help you with group development, media skills, lobbying, and debating, as well as provide guidance on specific issues you face in your community.”
Clearly, the two groups have established an ongoing working relationship, especially with regards to planning and coordinating nativist actions. The groups have, after all, collaborated previously.
FAIR was active in organizing a “Vigil for Justice” to honor Sollowin in Omaha last September. Prior to that event, Tully told Breitbart News that the aim of that event was to ‘highlight Sollowin’s convicted murderer “as the poster child of both the DREAM Act and amnesty.” Tully was recently present at a controversial Minutemen movement event held in Chicago back on April 22nd.


Colorado Governor’s Race Gets Ugly as Candidates Jump on Anti-Immigrant Bandwagon

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper has his eyes on a higher office, and he is betting that picking on young asylum-seekers will help him get there. Between jokes with Vice President Biden, and pool with President Obama, he took time to publicly state his opposition to hosting children who have fled the ongoing crisis in Central America:

“Our citizens already feel burdened by all kinds of challenges,” Hickenlooper, a Democrat, said Sunday. “They don’t want to see another burden come into their state.”

Hickenlooper’s cold comments follow similar statements from his Republican challenger, gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez.

In a July 5 interview with AM radio station KVOR, Beauprez declared, “Dumping people on another nation is just simply wrong.” He called on the federal government to “send these people back home,” and warned that if federal authorities were to transfer detained young people to Colorado, Colorado citizens would “be in the streets to block them.”

It’s clear that both candidates seem to think that closing their state off to young refugees will further their political careers.

A Crisis in Central America, a Surge in Bigotry in the U.S.

Young people escaping record levels of violence in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador have increasingly sought refuge in the United States and neighboring countries including Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Belize. While the crisis in Central America has complex causes, we must recognize that the US has a long history of meddling in the region, from present-day drug wars and trade policy to past support for totalitarian regimes.

In Texas, as processing and detention centers become increasingly over-crowded, federal authorities have begun to transfer detained youth to other states. These young detainees have been met with racist hysteria as anti-immigrant groups mobilize to block their transfer from Southern California to Michigan and Virginia to Arizona.

Bob Beauprez and Gov. John Hickenlooper

In his interview, Beauprez warned that there would be similar protests in Colorado should the federal government transfer children there. He also predicted financial burden and imminent cultural change:

“…this simply is going to be another straw on the back that will fiscally impact states in a big way. It will culturally impact states in a big way. When you don’t enforce the rule of law, chaos breaks out. And this is an example of chaos breaking out.”

His comments are quite similar to those of his recently defeated rival, Tom Tancredo, who declared that the children and young parents fleeing violence were all part of Obama’s plan to “fundamentally transform America.”

This rhetoric plays upon anxieties about changing demographics, and the changing racial and cultural composition of the United States. As the country becomes increasingly diverse (and anti-immigrant activists join longtime anti-Muslim activists to block buses in California) it’s clear that at least part of the opposition is about resistance to a multicultural and multiracial America.

Who is to Blame?

The anti-immigrant movement has been instrumental in creating this hostile cultural and political climate. But they are not alone. Recent nativist protests have benefited from the collusion and support of elected officials and public employees, particularly from Border Patrol and ICE. Politicians have jumped on the nativist bandwagon, amplifying the messages of the anti-immigrant movement, and turning their talking points into policy.

These political leaders aren’t just taking advantage of an upsurge in populist racism. They are taking the lead. They are shaping a conversation and fomenting racist hostility.

Sending children back to the danger they escaped should not be a stepping stone for higher office, or political power. Beauprez and Hickenlooper should be taken to task for their recent comments. In their haste to cash in on anti-immigrant hostility, both seem to have forgotten their legal and moral obligations to these young people.  It’s time to remind them.

Lauren Taylor is a field organizer at the Center for New Community.


Image source: Thomas Hawk/Creative Commons


Anti-immigrant Arizona sheriff prompts protest against migrant children

An Arizona sheriff with a history of anti-immigrant rhetoric and activism has provided Oracle, Arizona residents with information to inspire an anti-immigrant demonstration today. Oracle local Robert Skiba, who plans to protest a proposed site to shelter children fleeing violence in Central America, was told of the plans during a meeting with Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu.

Appearing on Breitbart News Sunday, Skiba recalled his meeting with Babeu and expressed shock before he reportedly told the sheriff, “We will take care of this.”

It is unsurprising for Babeu to play a role in inspiring the anti-immigrant protest. For years he has contributed to Arizona’s climate of fear with his anti-immigrant rhetoric and has also associated himself with prominent anti-immigrant groups including the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). Earlier this month, Babeu continued this when he posited that the Central American children pose a public health risk when he claimed, “There are major concerns from a public safety perspective about that.”

Babeu’s work is the latest in a series of actions where law enforcement officials have provided information to anti-immigrant organizers. In recent weeks, enforcement officials have been complicit in leaking information to anti-immigrant activists protesting in Murrieta, California.