Valdez-Ward: Congress Should Avoid Anti-Immigrant Hardliners With Ties to White Nationalists

Kathleen Treseder

Evelyn Valdez-Ward and students from the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology department at the University of California, Irvine.

The termination of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) earlier this fall has created an immediate and imminent threat for hardworking Dreamers, like myself, whose lives have been left in limbo. If Congress is unable to pass a permanent legislative solution to protect the young people who arrived here as children, our lives will be torn apart. Since the Trump Administration’s announcement to rescind the program, I’ve gained faith in the bipartisan work Congress has done to pass a long-term fix like the Dream Act. However, I have also been troubled by reports of anti-immigrant groups with connections to white nationalists providing policy advice to elected officials. It has brought me to this question: in the midst of a bipartisan debate on my future and the future of my country, can Members of Congress refrain from seeking the advice of individuals and organizations with current and well documented ties to white nationalism?

Groups like the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), NumbersUSA, Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI) and Californians for Population Stabilization (CAPS) want people to think they support finding a compassionate and sensible solution for Dreamers, but how can they when for years they have attacked us and other immigrants through backdoor legal assaults and draconian legislative demands.

Threatening my safety and nearly 800,000 Dreamers like myself in exchange for a ‘deal’ that includes a 50% reduction to annual immigration levels, a dramatic ramp up of enforcement amounting to a deportation force that will devastate our economy, separate families and swoop up our coworkers and neighbors who enrich our lives, is not compassionate nor reasonable. In fact, it’s senseless, cruel, and inspired by the principles of their founders, funders and current leadership.

Anti-immigrant hardliners like Mark Krikorian, Dan Stein, Roy Beck, Kris Kobach, and Ben Zuckerman, all leaders in these organizations, share an ideological framework with John Tanton, the founder of the modern anti-immigrant movement in the U.S., which is rooted in eugenics. Even Fox News host Tucker Carlson once reported on Tanton and his troubling ethics, who in addition to founding and funding a majority of these groups, promoted forced sterilization methods, corresponded with members of the KKK and Holocaust deniers, and sought money from similarly minded donors like the Pioneer Fund and the Colcom Foundation. The Colcom Foundation presently provides generous donations to these organizations, and according to the Center for New Community’s resource Who’s Behind the Plot Against DACA, have since 2006, pumped more than $53 million into the anti-immigrant movement. Colcom’s founder, Cordelia Scaife May, the late oil heiress, believed nature was being assailed by overpopulation and left more than $400 million to her foundation with the goal of dramatically restricting and expelling immigrants to and from the U.S. Today, nearly half of her fortune is spent on this work, which includes deporting people like me from the only country we have ever known.

This worldview informs the “halt all immigration possible,” policies promoted by the anti-immigrant groups, who want to dramatically cut legal immigration, and talk about doing so often. Earlier this year, FAIR’s President Dan Stein said that Americans “would be perfectly fine if we didn’t have another immigrant for 50 years.” CIS’s Mark Krikorian once referred to immigrants as a “poor, problem-ridden demographic.” NumbersUSA’s Roy Beck bragged about making “immigration radioactive in as many places as possible.” IRLI’s Kris Kobach has fretted that Latino immigrants could commit “ethnic cleansing,” and CAPS President Ben Zuckerman recently advocated for “a prompt stabilization of the U.S. population.” It’s not only their commentary that is troubling, just have a look at their mission statements, or latest policy reports, which riddled with misinformation and lies, demonize immigrants at every turn.

As a PhD student in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of California-Irvine, and a DACA recipient, I can tell you that the current post-truth society that we are living in makes it very difficult to have a balanced bipartisan debate on immigration and just about every other issue. Fact based analysis is critical to every policy debate, and it is a fact that currently 86% of all Americans and 76% of Republicans support protecting Dreamers. It is also a fact that CIS, FAIR, NumbersUSA, IRLI and CAPS have direct ties to white nationalists, want to end all immigration, and are threatening the wellbeing of myself and other Dreamers in order to enact a radical anti-immigrant agenda. So I ask you Congress, when working to find a solution for me and the nearly 800,000 Dreamers around the country, please don’t seek their ill advice. Listen to the majority of Americans, because this country, the only country I have ever known, is great and a long term solution for us will only make her greater.”

Evelyn Valdez-Ward is a PhD student in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of California-Irvine, and a DACA recipient.

Evelyn Valdez-Ward is a PhD student in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of California-Irvine, and a DACA recipient.

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