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There’s the Senate “Gang of Hate“—and there’s their “brain trust” (or what we like to call their “drain trust”). These are the guys that supply them with so many of their ideas about immigrants and the restrictionist fantasy knowns as “self-deportation.” Meet some of the anti-immigrant nativists who are frequent collaborators with the Gang of Hate, the “thinkers” behind their devious strategies:
Mark Krikorian routinely blames immigrants for everything from global warming to the Wall Street crash to voter fraud. He famously mocked the pronunciation of Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s name, and once said that the reason why Haiti is “so screwed up” is because it wasn’t “colonized long enough.” Pro-imperialism much? During the 2012 election, when Mitt Romney started talking about “self-deportation”—an extremist position that would pave the way to his eventual shellacking in November, thanks to his failure to win more than a quarter of the Latino vote—smarter Republicans like John McCain, Jeb Bush, and Susana Martinez slammed the idea. But Mark Krikorian triumphantly lifted up Romney’s support for self-deportation, claiming credit for the idea under the name it used to be known by, “attrition through enforcement.” Krikorian only seems to have doubled down on his positions since the election, recently giving an interview where he encouraged the GOP to stop pursuing immigration reform and stop courting the Latino vote—because “a majority of the children that are born to [Latinos] … are illegitimate” and they have “very high rates of welfare use,” making them likely to be Democratic voters.
Another “drain trustee” who has only doubled down on his positions since the election is Kris Kobach, Mitt Romney’s immigration advisor and the man who encouraged Romney to make self-deportation the centerpiece of his immigration plan. Kobach is responsible for writing and pushing anti-immigrant state laws such as Arizona’s SB 1070 and Alabama’s HB 56, which are based on the concept of self-deportation. The theory behind them: make immigrants so miserable that they leave the country voluntarily, whether that involves forcing schools to check on kids’ immigration status or denying immigrants access to the police and the courts. After leading Romney to his overwhelming defeat last November, Kobach seemingly lapsed from the immigration scene, appearing to focus his time on his other pet project, voter IDs, and maybe his day job as the Secretary of State for Kansas. But when he came back to the national stage in an April Senate hearing, he amazingly professed as much support as ever for self-deportation, complaining that it’s “not some radical idea.” (Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) promptly took him to task for the comment.)
Working with Kobach these days is Chris Crane, the president of the ICE union who has spent the last several months complaining that President Obama’s prosecutorial discretion policies are harming his agents. The main target of his complaint, Obama’s deferred action (DACA) program, has now recognized almost 200,000 DREAMers, who are now allowed to work, drive (in most states), and live without the fear of deportation. But Crane claims that not deporting these young, non-priority immigrants who want to contribute to our country is a threat to border security. Crane has testified multiple times before the Senate Judiciary Committee, at the invitation of Chuck Grassley—and Jeff Sessions has long been very sympathetic to his complaints.
Former Senator and current Heritage Foundation president Jim DeMint (R-SC) recently began speaking for the 14% of Americans who don’t support immigration reform. DeMint, the man whose past leadership PAC and support helped bring you such Senate candidates as Todd Akin (R-MO), Sharron Angle (R-NV), Ken Buck (R-CO), and Christine O’Donnell (R-DE), is trying to derail the momentum and broad support behind immigration reform, no matter the consequences for his Republican Party. By backing many extreme, far right candidates who proved unpopular with the general electorate, DeMint was a major reason the Republicans lost a series of winnable Senate races and Democrats maintained the majority in the U.S. Senate. Now, by backing extreme, far right positions on immigration that are unpopular with the general electorate, DeMint again seems intent on undermining the GOP’s political future by opposing an approach to reform championed by leading contenders such as Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Jeb Bush and embraced by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI). DeMint’s Heritage Foundation has also released a reprise of their 2007 report on the economics of immigration reform, which argues that the legislation is too costly even though numerous other reports have highlighted the benefits that immigration reform will bring to the economy.
And finally, JOHN TANTON. John Tanton is considered the father of the modern anti-immigrant movement and is more an original source for its ideas than a current collaborator. Throughout this website, we referred to Tanton and the the anti-immigrant network he created, which consists of groups that he either founded, helped founded, or initially funded in their infancies (including NumbersUSA, the Center for Immigration Studies, and the Federation for American Immigration Reform). They all espouse the same ideas of controlling American immigration (legal and illegal), promoting self-deportation, and opposing immigration reform. The Gang of Hate Senators are all well-acquainted with these anti-immigrant groups, are quick to invite them to Congressional hearings, are quicker to support the bills these groups lobby, and in some cases even share a cross-pollination of former staff members.
Tanton’s groups now shy away from their connections to their extremist founder, but their ideals and agendas still clearly derive from his anti-immigrant vision. Roy Beck, the head of NumbersUSA, for decades considered John Tanton a mentor and friend. Dan Stein, the president of FAIR, has written about how immigrants engage in “competitive breeding” and how “immigrants don’t come all church-loving, freedom-loving, God-fearing countries. Many of them hate America, hate everything that the United States stands for.” Mark Krikorian, the Executive Director of CIS, has blamed immigrants for everything from global warming to voter fraud to the Wall Street collapse. And the Gang of Hate Senators—Cruz, Cornyn, Vitter, Sessions, and Grassley—in their support for self-deportation and opposition to immigration reform, try to carry the Tanton agenda forward in Congress.