This post was updated on April 25, 2019, to incorporate an additional quote and to clarify attribution of the report’s language.
A report issued by the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism concludes that anti-immmigrant views have become much more mainstream over the past 10 years, which was the last time the ADL did a report on this issue.
The 52-page report said that the increase in anti-extremist rhetoric has been caused by “a concerted push by anti-immigrant groups, including President Trump, using stereotypes and outright bigotry to blame immigrants for various problems in America.” The report examines how views once only espoused in back channels and behind closed doors have become accepted in everyday conversation.
Titled “Mainstreaming Hate: The Anti-Immigrant Movement in the U.S.,” the report focuses on the way that such rhetoric has gained legitimacy, and why American society is willing to accept such
“Sadly, it’s plain for all to see that extreme anti-immigrant ideas are a common feature in our political discourse,’’ said Jonathan Greenblatt, the ADL’s CEO and national director, in a statement. “We must take steps to remove this anti-immigrant ideology and xenophobia, and act on the U.S.’ longstanding belief that America is stronger as a pluralistic society that welcomes immigrants.”
In particular, the report explains how, over the last 10 years, many groups that espouse extreme anti-immigrant ideas, as the ADL notes, have increasingly used social media and 24-hour news outlets to promulgate their views. By taking advantage of a new media environment, groups that were once considered fringe are now in the center of political debate.
“Anti-immigrant groups are effectively appealing to more mainstream audiences on Twitter and Facebook by using nuanced rhetoric about immigration issues,” the report says, citing two groups in particular: FAIR and NumbersUSA.
The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), for example, tweeted a statement that Sen. Dianne Feinstein made in 1994 in which she used what is now seen as anti-immigrant language. The group provided no context, but used Feinstein’s words as justification for their own extremist points of view. The Tweet saw tremendous engagement, and the group gained credibility in the Twitter universe. FAIR now has 224,600 followers on a verified account. NumbersUSA, which has 32,100 followers on Twitter, uses similar strategies, the report said.
NumbersUSA objected to the ADL’s characterization.
“We are not an ‘anti–immigrant’ group, nor do we ‘traffic in anti-immigrant rhetoric,'” said the organization’s Andrew Good via email. “Among our statement of values: ‘Immigrant bashing, xenophobia, nativism and racism are unacceptable responses to federal immigration policy failures.‘ Neither are we ‘anti-immigration.’ We support policies that would allow ≈500,000 new green card issuances annually. We support a welcoming national posture to the immigrants we allow. We were founded based largely on the immigration recommendations and values of civil rights icon Barbara Jordan.”
The groups cited by the ADL have also cultivated larger audiences via 24-hour TV news networks, the report said.
The ADL cites two Fox News shows, Tucker Carlson Tonight and The Ingraham Angle, as prime-time platforms where spokespersons of anti-immigrant present their arguments as legitimate mainstream views. Both shows have millions of viewers.
To deal with this new reality, the ADL has offered several recommendations and initiatives.
Nancy Baron-Baer, the regional director of the Philadelphia-area ADL, pointed out one of the policy recommendations of the anti-immigration report that involves our area.
“More towns and cities need to adopt ‘sanctuary’ or ‘welcoming’ policies, as has been done in Philadelphia,’’ Baron-Baer said. “We need to send a welcoming and protective message to all community members as we have done in Philadelphia.”
In addition, the ADL recommends the following series of “intentional steps” to safeguard refugee populations:
A pathway to citizenship for Dreamers and protection for refugees from Muslim- majority countries
Comprehensive immigration legislation that addresses the millions of undocumented individuals living in the U.S.
Improved reporting of hate crimes to the FBI and more anti-bias training for law enforcement
Tools for students to combat hatred and bigotry and protect immigrant students
Expanded efforts between the government and social media, and other technology platforms, to counter extremism and bigotry online
The ADL also offered a series of policy recommendations, including the following:
Enact policies that provide legislative and legal protections for immigrants and refugees
Improve federal response to hate crimes
Build trust between law enforcement and immigrant communities
Make cities and towns work to become welcoming to immigrants
Have officials denounce anti-immigrant bigotry, racism and xenophobia
Expand dialogue between civil society and the tech sector
For more information, the report can be downloaded at adl.org/the-anti-immigrant-movement-in-the-us. l
[email protected]; 215-832-0737