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Kicking off Trump’s “Immigration Week,” Experts Discuss Implications of Breitbart-Led Presidential Campaign for Broader GOP

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As the Trump campaign kicks off “immigration week” and amid conflicting stories about Donald Trump’s stance on immigration, legal experts and civil rights and immigration reform advocates discussed the implications for the Republican Party of both a Breitbart-speared campaign and the Trump-led rise of the white nationalist movement.

For a recording of today’s call, click here.

Heidi Beirich, Head of the Intelligence Project, Southern Poverty Law Center, said “Breitbart News has always provided a platform for extremist anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim voices, and so Trump’s move to hire Breitbart’s Steve Bannon comes as no surprise.  Instead, it is just another example of how closely connected Trump is with the extreme right. It is going to be tough for our country to recover from the hate and misinformation that Trump has spewed into the mainstream throughout his campaign.”

Kathleen Frydl, political historian, said “The marriage of Breitbart and the Trump campaign created a dedicated Trump platform – which means his barnstorm is no passing fever or fleeting tantrum; it is the start of a breakaway political faction — or, as Trump likely envisages it, the full integration of his brand. The remaining question is whether this faction will form a distinct party or remain as a discrete bloc within the GOP.”

Maria Rodriguez, Executive Director, FLIC Votes, said “The biggest concern for Floridians is not Trump – it’s Trumpism. Right now, our community feels fear and anger, and, as organizers, our job is to channel that fear into courage and that anger into action. We’ve worked hard to unite the Latino, Haitian, Afro-Caribbean, and African American communities against Trumpism, and we’ve already seen an increase in naturalization rates and registered voters. This election is a referendum on racism and xenophobia, and we’ll keep fighting against Trump and the down ballot candidates complicit in his campaign.”

Rashida Tlaib, Former Michigan State Representative, 1st Muslim woman elected in MI legislature; Attorney with Sugar Law Center for Economic & Social Justice, said “It’s clear that this is not a presidential campaign, but a movement to mainstream hate and propagate widespread violence. When you hear Trump and his surrogates talk about segregation based on faith, that is the biggest threat to our country. They have opened the doors to the extremist movement in the U.S., and the recent murders in Oklahoma and New York prove that this movement is creating a national crisis. He has caused my Arab-American children to question their identities, which is why this year I’ll bring my children to the polls and remind voters of the stakes of this election: either you’re pro-America and what is beautiful about this country or you’re with Trump.”

Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, said “If he goes there, any tonal shift from Trump on immigration and Latinos will be a cynical attempt by a flailing campaign to reach suburban Republican voters and convince them that he isn’t as racist as they think. But many Republicans I know are appalled that the GOP has nominated such an overt bigot, who uses xenophobia and nativism as core elements of his campaign. Republicans who have worked hard to construct a modern Republican party are not going to be fooled by a candidate at home with white nationalism. So no matter what ‘shifts,’ ‘pivots,’ or ‘flip-flops’ Trump attempts in the coming months in hopes of bringing these voters home, they know that a vote for Trump is a vote for racism.”

A recording of today’s call is available here.