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House GOP Trots Out Trump Campaign Surrogate and Anti-Immigrant Extremist Chad Wolf

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Chad Wolf, unlawfully appointed former acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security under the Trump administration, is among right-wing officials set to appear before the House Judiciary Committee this week. While the hearing purports to concern border security, it’s really about keeping the base inflamed over immigration after hopes that nationwide chaos would follow the end of the Title 42 policy last month didn’t pan out.

Wolf, for example, claimed in the days preceding Title 42’s expiration on May 11 that crossings would be “astronomically high” following the policy’s end. The month prior, he claimed America would be “in for a reckoning.” It’s almost like he was giddily hoping for chaos. But as we’ve noted, the number of migrants crossing the border has hit its lowest point since President Biden took office due to a number of factors. 

Chad Wolf doesn’t have a clue about immigration policy. Not even close. But if you’re looking for a nicely-coiffed mouthpiece who, while serving in an unlawfully appointed position, downplayed white supremacist terror threats in favor of anti-immigrant lies and misused an entire government department as a Super PAC to politically benefit a president who would later get impeached for inciting an insurrection at the nation’s capital – phew! – Wolf is your guy.

Flashback to September 2020, when DHS’ own experts labeled white supremacists the deadliest threat facing our nation. But in a “State of the Homeland” speech just days after that report was leaked to the public, Wolf instead peddled supposed threats of “foreigners seeking to harm and kill Americans.” We noted at the time that “Wolf praised President Trump’s signature (literally) obsession, the border wall, while outrageously claiming that the ‘remain in Mexico’ policy of sending asylum seekers out of the country without a hearing or oversight is done to benefit migrants and keep them safe.”

Instead of delivering a somber account of the actual dangers facing our nation — white supremacist terror threats, which had already tragically played out in El Paso just one year prior – Wolf delivered what amounted to a Trump campaign speech. But as we know, it would be far from the only time that Wolf used his position to effectively campaign for his boss while on the public dime. 

“Wolf and other senior officials traveled to battleground states to publicize routine arrests, warned of dire national security risks if Trump wasn’t re-elected, and erected billboards in key states showcasing ‘immigration violators,’” TIME reported in 2022. Altogether, the politically-motivated trips to battleground states of Florida, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan cost taxpayers more than $223,000. DHS ​​during this time “held an unusual number of press conferences and speeches,” TIME reported. 

Of course, Wolf did all this while pretending to be the legitimate head of DHS. Months before being chartered to Texas to celebrate wall construction, the non-partisan Government Accountability Office had found that Wolf, along with deputy (and noted laughing stock) Ken Cuccinelli, had been illegally appointed to their positions. But they ignored Congressional calls to vacate their offices, with Wolf leaving only days before Trump’s term was to end, and Cuccinelli on the day of. Since then, Wolf has been a top staffer at the America First Policy Institute, which has partnered with hate group Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) and other anti-immigrant organizations. Wolf himself has associated with FAIR, attending its “Hold Their Feet to the Fire” event in 2022 and 2021.

We would eventually find out from whistleblower Brian Murphy, the former head of DHS’ intelligence division, that Cuccinelli ordered the modification of “intelligence assessments to make the threat of white supremacy ‘appear less severe’ and include information on violent ‘left-wing’ groups and antifa,” The New York Times reported in 2020. Wolf, meanwhile, wanted officials “to stop producing assessments on Russian interference and focus instead on Iran and China.“

Now House Republicans are bringing back Wolf as some sort of policy expert, along with a number of other unsavory figures from the right. Steven Bradbury, a Trump administration official who performed various roles at the Department of Transportation, is notorious for authoring the Bush-era legal memos that attempted to authorize the use of torture. Joe Edlow, meanwhile, works with the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), another designated anti-immigrant hate group. He’s also now part of the newly announced National Immigration Center for Enforcement (NICE), another nativist group hiding behind a legitimate-sounding name. 

In his recent blog post, America’s Voice Political Director Zachary Mueller wrote how NICE’s appearance before a House committee is part of a “clearly planned maneuver to fearmonger about our undocumented neighbors. Through the establishment of seemingly innocuous non-profit organizations, collaboration with elected Republicans, and eager right-wing media platforms chasing clicks, they continue to launder hate and xenophobia into the mainstream,” he wrote

For example, CIS, a frequent witness at GOP House hearings, was founded by white nationalist John Tanton, who once wrote a paper titled ‘The Case for Passive Eugenics.” Its executive director, Mark Krikorian, once argued that Haiti is “so screwed up because it wasn’t colonized long enough” by white people. We noted that CIS was on the witness list nearly a dozen times in the year after Republicans took control of the House in 2011.

Wolf won’t be at Wednesday’s hearing to offer any legitimate insight into immigration policy, since he was too busy running DHS like a Trump Organization subsidiary. Instead, Wednesday’s House Judiciary hearing “is the latest in a long list of proof points that for Republicans, the facts on the ground are secondary to their quest of using immigration as red meat for their base,” America’s Voice Executive Director Vanessa Cárdenas said earlier this week. “Republicans and the right wing media would rather keep their base inflamed and outraged about supposed border chaos than acknowledging the reality after Title 42.”